• How Boko Haram caught Army pants down • Why group is sustaining attacks
From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna
Jaji is in the outskirts of Kaduna metropolis. It is more of a rustic town. It is just about 23 kilometres from Kaduna, the capital city. The area only became popular as a result of the military formation –Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), cited there.
And in recent times, following the wave of terrorists’ activities in the country and other neighbouring countries, it has been churning out officers and men of the Nigerian army and other para-military outfits in the country, including from other African countries, on counter terrorism act. But it failed to guard its loin properly and it paid dearly for it last Sunday.
Travelling through the expressway either leading to Zaria, from Kaduna or from Zaria, going to Kaduna, one sees a long stretch of fence from the eastern part of the college, with a fortified gate, manned by gun-wielding soldiers and other plain clothed intelligence officers from the military. But that is how far the fence can go. Saturday Sun’s investigations revealed that the South, West and northern end of the college is unfenced, as such could be accessed by all and sundry.
The porous nature of the college, it was further learnt, provided easy access for the terrorists who had early in the year, even invaded the 1 Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, Kawo, Kaduna, located within the Kaduna metropolis. Unlike Jaji, the 1 Mechanised Division Headquarters in Kaduna is well-fenced, with armoured tank placed right in front of the entrance gate, with about 13 gun-wielding soldiers, guarding the place. Is the army headquarters in Abuja therefore, ever aware that Jaji was this porous? If it was not, what did successive Commandants of the College do, to bring it to the notice of Abuja?
Or is it also possible that someone may have diverted the money meant for the fencing of the College? Answers to all these and more may as well be provided by the Board of Inquiry, already set up by the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim to look into the circumstances surrounding the incident. But even at that Saturday Sun further gathered that in spite of the porous nature of the college, if the authorities concerned had maintained the security arrangement hitherto put in place by the college, it would also have been difficult for the sons of the devil to feast on innocent Nigerians who had gone to the church to commune with their God, the way they did, right inside the precinct of a highly rated military formation, not only in Nigeria, but in Africa.
Investigations revealed that in the wake of the insurgency in Nigeria, the authorities in Jaji, had soldiers, stationed strategically, up to the middle of the college, from all directions, to repel attacks. In fact, it was gathered that it had up to 11 sectors, in charge of the security arrangement. “But once they felt that everything was normal again and things were over, they all go back to their normal life. This is the situation. I am sure if those responsible had taken their jobs seriously, we would not have been beaten to this ugly and embarrassing situation,” one of the sources said. Another source told Saturday Sun: “I understand some are saying the report about the porous nature of the College (as published in Daily Sun earlier) was being disputed in some quarters. Thank God the Senate committee on Defence was here yesterday (Wednesday).
They went round the place. I also saw the defence minister. In fact, I saw the NTA Defence Correspondent in her team. But I am sure; they will not allow him to report everything they saw. However, even if the Senate cannot discuss it in the open, they will discuss it in their closed-door session.
The college is porous. And so nobody should lie that they came in through the gate, just to punish the innocent soldiers on duty the day of the incident,” the dependable source volunteered. Senate panel wants civilians out of Jaji Interestingly, the Senate committee chairman on Defence, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, after visiting the college, last Wednesday, stopped over at Kaduna Governor House, to rob minds with the governor, where he not only confirmed the porous nature of the college, but also called on the governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa to assist in relocating the civilians, currently living within the cantonment, out of the place.
“We have seen that the back of the cantonment is not fenced; so if civilians who have nothing to do with the military formation there, remain there, that person can bring in someone who may cause harm to the military men in the barracks. We have also observed that there are four roads linking to Zaria, Jos and other places and these roads are open; so, if anyone can get to the houses in the barracks, then anything can happen. “Jaji cantonment is a military formation and as such should remain so, it should belong to the military, it’s possible the state government can relocate these people and give them other possible areas to live.
You cannot see a military building and the next one will belong to a civilian, with this kind of arrangement, you will not be able to take care of your security as military personnel. “I think this appeal should go to the government of Kaduna State to understand this because the security of lives and property for every person belongs to all of us and we must all help to see that it is achieved; if that is done, it will afford them taking care of the peace and security of every environment,” the Senate committee chairman added. How suicide bombers accessed Jaji Military Barracks Contrary to insinuations that the suicide bombers who launched their second attack on military formations in Kaduna at the weekend, may have beaten the water-tight security at the entrance of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, to accessed the place, Saturday Sun gathered that there was no security to beat.
The bombers accessed the area, through the unfenced rear of the barracks, which is as porous as any un-kept public building in Nigeria. Unlike the attack on the I Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, Kawo, Kaduna, earlier this year, where it was obvious that the sons of the devil gained access through the exit and entrance gate, sources confirmed to Saturday Sun that that of Jaji was a completely different situation. This is even as one of the sources declared that the Sunday’s attack was a further confirmation of the fact that the road block mounted by soldiers on the highway, within and around Kaduna, was no longer “useful and helpful.”
Instead, the source said, the army and other security apparati in Nigeria, should concentrate on intelligence gathering, rather than continue to “waste valuable time and manpower on the highways and on the streets.” “Look, because the big men at the top make brisk money from these roadblocks, by way of cutting down the allowances of soldiers, they will not just listen. Otherwise, as you can see, the road blocks are meaningless.
“You remember the one that came to you people’s office? Inside his car, booth and everywhere, he had 11 camp gas cylinders, wired to the steering of the car. And it was in the day time, so where did he follow, to beat all those roadblocks? I think you guys were just lucky. “Look at Jaji, you know the place very well. No matter who you are, once you approach the gate, you will come down and be searched. So, it was not possible for them to have come through the main gate. When I read the reports in the papers on Monday, about the fact that they beat the security at the gate, I just laughed, because these are people who even search their own officers, let alone some bloody riffraff. “Jaji is very, very porous.
This is a fact that you also know very well. You know from behind, there is no fence. So, I can bet my life that they came though the back. More so, I have interacted with all those on duty at the time it happened. “Also, every Friday and Sunday, we allow worshippers troop in for their religious activities; so I am sure, those guys took their time to study us very well, before they struck. I think they tried, but God will catch them,” the source said. Another source told Saturday Sun: “You know I have always told you that the place you think is the most secure is the most insecure place in Nigeria.
This is so because we take so many things for granted in this country. As I speak to you, about 300 of our soldiers who are supposed to be living within the barracks, have no accommodation. So, they rent houses within the villages in Jaji town. So, tell me how this kind of arrangement will not cause security breaches? I sympathise with the families of those who lost their loved ones, but let us also pray and hope that this will help our ogas in Abuja to wake up to realities on ground. Jaji is not really secure as they want to make you people believe.
Is it not an irony that it is this same military formation that trains officers and men of the Nigerian military and other Para-military institutions in Nigeria, on how to combat terrorism. What a funny country!” the source that is also a uniform man added. Why Boko Haram sustained attacks despite ‘dialogue’ moves Long before the PDP-led Federal Government made any attempt to dialogue with the group, the incumbent Borno State governor, Hon Kashim Shettima, had set machinery in motion, with a view to bringing an end to the senseless killings in the state.
But each time the government’s effort is about to yield positive result, Saturday Sun learnt that spanners would be thrown in the work, thus giving the impression that certain persons within the government circle are interested in prolonging the insurgence. Investigation also revealed that certain prominent Nigerians have suddenly seen the Boko Haram menace as another conduit pipe. Although there are few members of the sect who may not be in the trenches presently, they have no powers to either call for a negotiation or even lead the process.
Though Saturday Sun could not readily establish whether or not the last month’s proposal for dialogue by one Abu Mohammed Ibn AbdulAzeez, who claimed to have the mandate of the leader of the sect, Imam Shekau, to initiate the process, wherein prominent Nigerians, including General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) were named as mediators, was from the group, the mere fact that General Mamman Shuwa (retd) was killed in Maiduguri a day after the offer of dialogue was made public, casts a lot of doubt on the genuineness of the move, a source told Saturday Sun. Even the Borno State government was also circumspect on Ibn AbdulAzeez’s call for dialogue.
Hear the state’s spokesman, Inuwa Bwala, on the demand: “… this call for ceasefire as much as we are very enthusiastic about it, as much as it sounds very good and as much as we want to come in, we still have our suspicion because he who comes to equity should come with clean hands. “You have stated your terms, then you should allow the FG or whoever it is, to produce who they feel will adequately represent them, because the mention of names as possible negotiators will have far-reaching implications. This is because Boko Haram has its own modus operandi, one of which is that at the background of any of its conferences, you will see a display of Arabic inscriptions, which is what it believes in.
And part of it principal demand has always been the enthronement of the Sharia law in some states, even across the federation. But these were missing in the last statement through which they were said to have called for a ceasefire. Boko Haram opens addresses in Hausa, but the two addresses were in English. So, sometimes when we begin to read between the lines, you find it very difficult to understand from where the demand was coming from: from the real Boko Haram or from other sources. “As a government, we believe in dialogue; whoever comes to us for a dialogue, we are ready. Even if it is coming from those who are not actually Boko Haram, of course, we will embrace it because we don’t want our people to be killed any further.
We want to call on people to stop playing politics with this very serious issue that we found ourselves in Borno State and come on board and give us very solid solutions on how we can resolve these things. Our doors are open.” Saturday Sun further learnt that the attacks by the group were intensified in recent times, as a reaction to the declaring of its leaders wanted by the JTF. One of the sources said: “We have information that the main leader is no longer in Nigeria. And so to get any form of foreign assistance, government needed to do what was right by first declaring him and others wanted. This is to respond to your question, why now, since we know all along that he is the leader. “So, what you are seeing now is a reaction to the effort of security operatives, who are already closing in on them.
They just want to show they are still very much around. But I tell you, it will not be long before we get their leaders. It may take us some more time, but certainly not too long,” the source added. Sultan caution Nigerian media on activities of the group Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto and leader of Nigerian Muslims has called on media practitioners in Nigeria, to always separate criminal activities from what the supposedly adherents of Islam do, insisting that terrorists are not Muslims.
Speaking in an interactive session recently with Nigerian journalists in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Sultan said: “We believe that our religion is a peaceful one, not a violent one. But unfortunately some things have been happening, which are given the toga of Islam, but which we still say no, it is not Islam. These violent things that have been happening are not Islam and they neither represent Islam nor Muslims. So, it is very expedient for the media to uphold the true principles of objectivity and stop associating these violent things to Islam or Muslims.
They should disassociate Islam from them, instead of calling the perpetrators Islamist terrorists they should call them simply ‘terrorists or criminals.’ “I don’t think if a Christian commits the same criminal act, he would be called a Christian terrorist. I think terrorism should be terrorism, irrespective of the faith of its perpetrator. This is a very important issue, but unfortunately the world is not giving it much attention.
All the Abrahamic religions teach and preach peace and mutual co-existence. So, if someone wakes up one day and say, ‘I am doing this for my religion,’ then I think he should be helped, by telling him that ‘no, that is not what our religion teach.’ He should be told that he is the terrorist and criminal not the religion he claims to profess, no matter who he is,” the Sultan added.