Insurgency: Senate, Chief of Army Saff in shouting match
Posted by News Express | 14 November 2014 | 5,069 times
Senators and the Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Kenneth Minimah, yesterday engaged in a shouting match following the refusal of the army chief to respond to questions in the presence of newsmen. The Senate Committee on Defence had invited the Chief of Army Staff and other service chiefs to a briefing on the security situation in the insurgency affected areas. Trouble started following a request by chairman of the committee, George Thompson Sekibo, that the army chief should make some remarks. Major-General Minimah, however, insisted that he would not discuss military’s operational strategies in front of the media. The meeting almost ended in a shouting match, as senators demanded that he should make some comments, but the army chief insisted that he would not discuss military operational matters before the press. The Senate Committee had invited service chiefs, including the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, and the Director-General, Directorate of State Security (DSS), Mr Ekpeyong Ita, to brief its members on the state of affairs in states under emergency rule. Even the intervention of a member of the committee, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who reminded Minimah that the press is an important stakeholder in the polity, did not help matters. Minimah stood his ground, and the senators eventually asked the press to excuse them, before the meeting went into closed doors. At the end of the meeting, some two and a half hours later, Sekibo told newsmen that it was “loaded." He said: “You (reporters) were here with us when we started at about 1:00 p.m. Now it is about two and a half hours. We have deliberated on the security issues affecting our country and the Chief of Army Staff has also responded on all the issues that were raised before him. “As a committee, we have come to find out or have an opinion that the Nigeria Army is doing well. There are areas where we may, however, have setbacks, because this insurgency is not a conventional warfare. “We are also assured that within a very short period, some of the territories that were taken by the insurgents will be taken back for the country. “We are assured to inform our constituents that it will not go worse than what we have now. We believe from the charge we have given to them from tomorrow and perhaps the nearest couple of weeks, we are going to have better results. “I think this is our dark hours and I believe that as we are going towards the end of the tunnel, we are going to see light and the military will be able to salvage Nigeria from this problem.” When asked if elections will hold in the troubled north-eastern states, Sekibo said: “If we are able to get back all the territories that have been captured by the insurgents, then it means that we are good for the elections. That is the assurance they are giving to us that in a couple of weeks from now, they will be able to take back all those places.” Speaking further, he said: “You will recall, for some of you that followed us to Borno sometimes last year, the insurgents were controlling about 17 or 20 local government areas, but today, it has been reduced drastically to about nine. “It means we are taking over some places. In some states like Yobe and Adamawa, we believe that in a couple of weeks, they will take them back.” Fielding questions from journalists after the meeting, Minimah assured Nigerians that the military is at the verge of retaking lost territories. “We had a setback in Bassa that resulted in loss of territories up to Mubi and painful though, but we are working very hard to retake those territories," he said, adding: “Very soon, we will reclaim those territories and, indeed, other territories that the insurgents have taken,” he said. •Adapted from a Nigerian Tribune report. Photo shows Army Chief, Maj.-Gen. Minimah.