Counter-terrorism War: Are we nearing a donouement?

Posted by News Express | 13 July 2016 | 3,911 times

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Emeka Maduabuchi Onyemachukwu (not real name) was born and bred in the outskirts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. During his growing years Maiduguri was a friendly home for all Nigerians because the majority ethnic group of Kanuri and other indigenous groups were some of the most hospitable Nigerians you can find. He graduated with distinction from the respected federal university in Maiduguri known as University of Maiduguri.

Mr Onyemachukwu incidentally set up computer accessories' selling outlet in Maiduguri, while waiting for fortune to smile on him. But the opposite of the word fortune occurred when the daredevil armed Islamic terrorists known as Boko Haram began their indiscriminate bombing campaign in Maiduguri and other North-eastern communities. 

The business plaza where Onyemachukwu’s investments were located was among the first to be attacked, even as he barely escaped been killed. During the earliest bombing campaigns the armed Islamists carefully targeted Christians and moderate Moslems before snowballing into indiscriminate mass killings. 

This young struggling Nigerian decided with his entire family members to flee to Onitsha the commercial city of Anambra State in South-eastern Nigeria.

For many years, this gentleman who is of Igbo parentage had imbibed the unique cultural peculiarities of the Kanuri of Borno State so much that he found it almost pragmatically impossible to adapt to the new life in Anambra State, the home state of his parents. So, early last week, Emeka decided to visit Maiduguri to explore the possibilities of his childhood environment to try to restart his life, since most of his friends still stay in Borno State. 

At first, when he wanted to embark on the journey, his parents and relations did everything within their control to discourage him, but Emeka decided to take a plunge, believing that the emerging newspaper reports of series of military successes by Nigerian soldiers may have actually reduced the threats posed to lives and property of ordinary law-abiding citizens by the armed Boko Haram terrorists. His arrival back to Borno State coincided with the just ended Sallah festivities, which marked the end of the year 2016 Ramadan Season for Muslims.  Emeka arrived Maiduguri, which in the last four years was almost a war zone, to experience peaceful movements of civilians like never before. He quickly put a call across to his parents to announce to them that he has decided to stay back in Maiduguri to start up similar business with the little savings he could make from his brief stay back home in Onitsha, in addition to the generous assistance his younger brother in the United States gave him.

This good news of Chukwu-emeka, which typically represents the meaning of his first name, that is, “God has done marvelous things for us” seems to have happened in the North-east, going by the pragmatic evidence of real military successes spearheaded by the military troops, comprising the three segments of the Nigerian armed forces. The information about the heroic decision of  Emeka to return to Maiduguri to restart his private economic pursuit came about the same time that a symbolic event happened, which for a long time if sustained would form part of the good stories around the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.The symbolic event was the verifiable information that the road linking Nigeria to Central Africa, and by extension, North Africa, from the North-eastern region - the Maiduguri-Mafa-Dikwa-Gamboru/Ngala Road - was few hours back reopened by the Nigerian Army. The road, a total of 138 kilometres, is not only strategic but of economic importance to the nation. It was closed three years ago by the military at the peak of the Boko Haram crisis. (Daily Trust).

The reopening of the road, which closure had almost crippled the commercial prowess of Borno State by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Tukur Buratai, in conjunction with Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, was part of activities marking the 2016 Army Day celebration in Borno State.

In his remarks, Buratai expressed pleasure in witnessing the formal reopening of the road, adding that the road remains the life-wire of Borno State and by extension, the country.

“The Maiduguri-Gamboru-Ngala Road is one of the strategic roads operationally and that is the reason I ensured that it is recovered from the terrorists, bearing in mind its economic
importance to the state.
“It is time to keep the road busy so that economic activities on it will commence and I charge the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) to ensure that the road is always open to motorists and transporters, and avoid breach of security.” On the allegations of money for escort on other reopened roads, Buratai warned that anybody caught, be it soldier or civilian, would be dealt with.

Shettima, on his part, noted how the activities of Boko Haram insurgents almost consumed the state before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and that the subsequent taking over of the army by Buratai saved the situation.
“We eternally remain indebted to the Nigerian Army for all the sacrifices made for the survival of North-east. With the reopening of this road, the economic revival of the state and the region is certain,” Shettima said.
The Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Borno State chapter, represented by the Secretary of the union, Alhaji Ahmadu Musa, said in appreciation of the reopening of the road, the union had decided to commit 200 out of the 400 saloon vehicles donated to them by Shettima after the destruction of their buses by the terrorists to the reopened roads. He also announced that the union - in an effort to ameliorate the plight of their passengers due to economic hardship - has reduced the transport fare from N10,000 to N2,000, henceforth.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army concluded its 2016 Army Day celebration with the serving of lunch to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Dikwa, as well as offering free medical services to them. The Defence Minister, Major-General Dan Ali (rtd) has rightly said that President Buhari had directed the Army Chief of Staff, Buratai, to be with his fighters on ground in the North-east to mark the end of the fasting period.

Some photographs from the activities marking the end of fasting by some of the military fighters who are Muslims reminded one of the photos of illustrious exemplary leadership skills of the ‘Holy Father’, Pope Francis, who since the last three years of his papacy has always mingled with the poor and has led the over two billion global Catholic faithful with the power of personal examples of humility and service. Apart from these virtues of humility and service showcased by  Buratai, which were in abundance at all the events that heralded the reopening of the important international highway in the North-east. One other salient achievement is that if properly managed, the gains of opening up the road could trigger renewed good governance and truly return Nigeria to the path of globalisation and good governance.

In the book Globalization, National Development and the Law edited by Professors S.A.Guobadia and Epiphany Azinge (SAN), we are told that: “The global efforts to promote international relations have suffered inexorably from international terrorism”.

There is no gainsaying the fact that armed Boko Haram terrorists with their recent affiliation to the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq, has assumed a notorious status as one of the most deadliest terror groups worldwide.

In 2015, Global Terrorism Index, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, found that Boko Haram, the Nigerian jihadist group, was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, compared to 6,073 at the hands of ISIS. 

Boko Haram - which was founded in 2002 as an Islamist movement against Western education and morphed into an armed insurgency in 2009 - has rapidly expanded its scope and ambitions over the past two years, achieving international notoriety in the spring of 2014 by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls. Much like ISIS, the organisation controls a territory in Nigeria (although it has lost some of it over the past year) and has declared a caliphate in that territory. 

The group is also international. Although based in North-eastern Nigeria, it has launched attacks in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. In the latest incident, Boko Haram is the suspected author of an attack in the Nigerian city of Yola that has left people dead.

The writers of this report stated that the scale of Boko Haram’s bloodlust may come as a surprise to those who are more used to hearing about Mosul than Maiduguri, but the Obama administration is well aware of the threat posed by the group. The US government it reported, “has been providing training, equipment, and funding to countries menaced by Boko Haram, though it has notably declined to sell weapons to the Nigerian government.” That was before President Buhari was inaugurated.

Currently, the top 10 most dangerous groups in the world based on terrorist and rebel activity over the past 30 days as of 14 April 2016 are shown with their GTI rankings and score. Up-to-the-minute GTI rankings for all groups are contained in the Intel Center Database (ICD). The danger posed by Boko Haram terrorists has declined significantly since Gen Buratai took over the counter-terrorism war, alongside other top military chiefs and the National Security Adviser.

Intel Center’s Group Threat Index (GTI) examines the volume of terrorist and rebel alerts, messaging traffic, videos, photos, incidents and the number killed and injured by a group over the past 30 days and runs it through an algorithm to assign the group its GTI.  Boko Haram isn't among the top ten today. 

 The Ranking of Terrorist/Rebel Group  GTI Score today are as follows: Islamic State (IS)   1,542; Taliban 304; al-Shabaab 280; Jamaat-ul Ahrar 232; Jabhat al-Nusrah  151; Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) 146; al-Huthi Rebels 118; Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 82; Islamic State (IS)-Wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyyah 70, and the tenth being the  Islamic State (IS)-Wilayat Sinai         44. 

What the most recent information on the global ranking of terror networks around the world shows is that the current government in Nigeria successfully built upon what military strategies it met on ground, and that the soldiers with the technical assistance of friendly nations have mastered the art of war, which in the considered thinking of a great philosopher, Sun Tzu (C.544-C.496 BCE), is of vital importance to the survival of any nation state. Tzu rightly affirmed that a morally justifiable war punishes those who threaten or harm the state; just as criminals within the state are punished to ensure a stable and prosperous state. He reasoned logically that planning and waging and avoiding war determines foreign policy, even as he also asserted that military strategies provide a framework for domestic political organisation to ensure a stable and prosperous state. That was the great thinker, Sun Tzu, who reigned in the late 6th century when China was said to have reached the end of an era of peaceful prosperity: the so-called Spring and Autumn Period in which philosophers had flourished. (The Politics Book” edited in 2013 by Sam Atkinson).

In as much as we commend the Nigerian government for almost bringing to a successful end to the monumental terror attacks of Boko Haram terrorists, Nigerians expect a much more sustainable plan to sustain the peace when the war is finally over. The justice component is crucial to sustaining lasting peace. The Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice must roll out effective mechanisms for the efficient prosecution of the suspected terrorists who are in military detention facilities. Government must also go after the real terror masterminds who funded the well-coordinated terror attacks across Nigeria, which has so far lasted over three years with over 25,000 innocent Nigerians killed. The Nigerian government must also put to good use the funds donated by our foreign partners to care for the victims of terrorism.

The pictures of heavily malnourished internally displaced children and other Nigerians in the North-east vis-à-vis that of governors and politicians of the zone looking so robustly rich are bad advertisements for Nigeria.

To win the war on terror successfully, we must guarantee social justice to the victims.

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via

Source: News Express

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