THE concerted efforts needed to tackle the menace of the Boko Haram insurgency in the epicenter of the violence, Borno, may have run into a major crisis as some eminent citizens of the state and the Governor, Shettima who is the political head of the state, are currently at loggerhead over the deployment of the Joint Military Task Force.
The troop had been responsible for tackling the violent insurgents, whose dastard activities are said to have claimed hundreds of lives in the past three years, with most of the victims being from Borno and neighbouring state of Yobe, and extending to Bauchi, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Lokoja and the FCT Abuja.
While the senior citizens under the aegis of Borno Elders Forum (BOEF), have declared publicly that they wanted the JTF withdrawn from the state, the governor, who is the Chief Security Officer of the State, yesterday distanced himself and his administration from such call.
Supported by his Chief Security officer, the governor declared that “without the presence of the Federal Government, insurgents would chase everyone out of Borno and the entire Northeast”.
On Friday, traditional and religious leaders along with prominent elders of Borno State had expressed disappointment with the manner of handling the security situation in the Northeast by the Federal Government.
Having “assessed and reviewed” how the Government has been handling the insurgency, the elders declared that President Jonathan and his administration had not shown much “sincerity and concerns” for the plights and sufferings of Borno residents.
Also, they claim there were no genuine or concrete measures of ending the ongoing insurgency in the state and the entire North.
The declarations and assessments were arrived at after members of the BOEF met with the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai Ibn El-Kanemi in Maiduguri at his palace.
Addressing the elders, traditional and religious leaders at the palace, Garbai Ibn El-Kanemi said: “it was time for the people of Borno State to take their destinies into their hands, because it appears that the Federal Government of Nigeria has forsaken the citizens of this state.”
Aside from condemning the call by the elders, Governor Shettima, inaugurated a 12-man committee on the Gwange Boko Haram crisis, insisting that the JTF presence was to protect people’s lives and property, against the insurgency that has persisted for over three years.
Gov Shetimah, however, cautioned members of the JTF to exercise restraint and abide by the JTF’s rules of engagement, while bringing an end to the incessant attacks, killings and bombings of innocent citizens and men of the security agents that wanted to restore law and order in the state.
He added: “let me use this opportunity to condemn the calls by some residents and the ‘Abuja politicians’ for the immediate withdrawals of JTF troops by the Federal Government from this state. The fact of the matter is that if the Federal Government withdraws these soldiers from Borno, all of us will be chased out of the state by the Boko Haram insurgents.”
Among those who met with the Shehu and top traditional rulers in the emirate were chairman of the Presidential Committee on insecurity in the Northeast, Amb. Gaji Gatimari; first elected governor of Borno State, Alhaji Mohammed Goni (1979-1983), his successor, Alhaji Asheik Jar’ma (1983), ex-military administrator of North Central states, Brig. Gen Abba Kyari (rtd) while the first Nigeria Petroleum Minister and one time Nigeria representative at the United Nations, Shettima Ali Monguno was represented.
Meanwhile, Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam has assured residents of Damaturu, the state capital of his administration’s commitments to their security and welfare, despite the challenges posed by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He gave the assurance at the weekend, while receiving the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Zone 12, Alhaji Ibrahim Audu who was on an official visit to the state