A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental body – Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked the National Assembly to pass a legislative framework which will make funding of the Defence sector as a first line charge to ensure efficient and effective roles by the military to stabilize national security.
HURIWA has also canvassed the creation of what it calls ‘War budgets’ and the time line for what national security objectives that must be achieved by a particular set of service chiefs and a specified tenure so other competent professional and combat tested and trusted military Generals are appointed to replace the serving military chiefs so the counter terror war does not become a commercially viable sector to be used by them for personal aggrandizement.
HURIWA also asked the Nigerian government to adopt newer and much more effective combat approach in the war on terror and must stop forthwith the intermittent releases of captured Boko Haram terrorists in the guise of being repentant fighters.
‘The releases of terrorists amounts to the undermining of the fundamentals of law and order which requires that offenders must be made to pass through the crucible and heavy weight of the laws of Nigeria to serve as deterrent sanctions/factors and check re-offending.
Besides, HURIWA has called for expedited funding mechanisms that would allow for the supplies of combat hard wares and soft wares and other essential combat weapons to be transparently procured to enable the military achieve success in the ongoing counter terror war in the North East of Nigeria.
HURIWA spoke against the backdrop that the $1billion USD said to have been taken from the escrow account has yet to drop at the Defence Ministry, just as the Rights group wondered why the government could allow bureaucratic bottlenecks to slow down the process of releases and utilization of fund for the prosecution of the ongoing war against terrorists.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA categorically stated that it could as well be taken to be a crime against humanity if the central government continues to adopt old fashioned bureaucratic processes in the procurement of special fighting military weapons at this period of national emergency whereby there is clearly a formidable resurgence of armed terrorism threatening the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“How can a leadership of this nation be chasing after rodents when our house is on fire? How can our President be globetrotting attending insignificant conferences such as the ongoing climate change event in Poland that at best can be attended by ministers when critical issues of funding of the war on terror is left unattended to?
“How can we allow the hitherto rag-tag Boko Haram terrorists to now become embolden and well equipped to an extent that they have acquired capacity for use and deployment of drones and other sophisticated weapons whereas the country is slowing down on the process of buying combat weapons?
“How do these terrorists obtain their weapons and cash? How much have Nigeria paid as ransoms to Boko Haram terrorists?”
HURIWA said the central government has also failed to find out the sources of funding and procurement of weapons by the terrorists.
“Nigeria will not easily defeat the terrorists unless we have actionable intelligence on the sponsors and exact locations from which these terrorists purchase their combat weapons including sophisticated arsenals such as drones and anti-aircrafts’ gunboats as reported recently.
“Government must put politics aside and pursue bipartisan panacea to the dwindling fortunes that we have made on the war on terror”.
“All citizens must rally round the nation’s military and support our fighters to achieve holistic victory against our common enemies.
“The special forces in the North East must also be equipped with special combat weapons. The national security of this nation is indeed at the crossroads requiring all hands to be on deck.”
HURIWA said it is a phenomenal statement that the Nigerian Army had challenged its Special Forces to prove that they have better training and tactics than terrorists by making the difference and positive impact in the on-going counter-terrorism operations.
“But the Rights group said it was an impossible mission if you train soldiers and then send them out to confront enemies that by your official admission has already upgraded the sophistication of the military weapons at their disposal.
HURIWA therefore reminded President Muhammadu Buhari that it is real that the killing of 23 soldiers in Metele, Borno State by insurgents and the angry response from Nigerians have stirred up an already simmering disquiet in the military over the continued stay in office of the service chiefs and the handling of the war against insurgents in the North-east.
HURIWA however emphasized that the current Chief of Army staff was right to continuously motivate his fighters to put up their best but the Rights group said the Nigerian government must also stop adopting steps that allows for dysfunctional bureaucratic bottlenecks to slow down the speed of purchases of combat weapons.
HURIWA recalled that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who charged the soldiers in Maiduguri recently, while addressing the Armed Forces Special Forces and Army Strike Group deployed in the North-east, said they were selected specially and deployed in the troubled region after being given special training, saying that is why they are called Special Forces.
Buratai said, “I am here to tell you that you have a great job to do and you must do it properly. You are deployed in the North-east to make a difference because of your special training.
“If there will be any challenge in terms of capacity, I believe you will fill that gap and you have all it takes to do that.
“If you apply the training that you are given, we will all have cause to be proud to belong to the armed forces of our great country.’’
He warned them against exhibiting cowardice, saying, “We do not have time for the chicken-hearted, the cowards; you all must brace up and be brave. We have done the greatest job so far in the North-east; the greatest in terms of degrading the terrorists.
“We are better trained, better equipped. We know tactics better than them and what is remaining for us is to dominate everywhere and dominate our areas of responsibilities. We must dominate the whole of the North-east.’’
HURIWA, however, said all hands must be on deck to ensure that the war on terror is winnable.