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Stop renewed Boko Haram adventures now

Boko Haram has in recent times renewed its violent attacks on innocent citizens, leaving no one in doubt that the war against terrorism that has lasted more than a decade and claimed more than 30,000 lives is not ending yet.

Although the capacity of the insurgents to cause huge devastation as in the early stages of the war has been reduced, the group remains a threat to peace and well-being of citizens in the North-east region.

An attack on travellers in Auno, a community on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, left no fewer than 30 people dead last Sunday night. Eighteen vehicles, shops and houses were set ablaze, just as food items being conveyed to Maiduguri in trucks were ransacked. The incident evoked so much concern that President Muhammadu Buhari had to pay a sympathy visit to the state.

In an audacious move, the terror group launched another deadly attack shortly after Buhari’s departure from Borno State and its leader released a video, warning the president against such visits in future but the Presidency said it was a 2016 video.

Residents of Jidda Polo area of Maiduguri, which was  stormed by the terrorists, firing gunshots and detonating explosives, were forced to flee their homes into the heart of the city.

The unending activities of Boko Haram reinforce disappointment of many Nigerians that the Buhari administration had hastily claimed victory in a war that is still raging. Senior government officials and military chiefs had made the declaration of victory a swan song. The Army authorities also made a presentation of seized Boko Haram flag and a copy of the Holy Quran believed to belong to Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the insurgents in December 2016 after the group’s enclave, Camp Zero, was captured in Sambisa Forest.

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Undoubtedly, the Nigerian Army has succeeded in curtailing the spread of the war to other regions of the country. The Boko Haram leader, Shekau, who has been declared killed several times by the military forces, is still busy issuing threats and deepening the destructive activities.

Government’s declaration of victory against Boko Haram has turned out as mere political propaganda. Interestingly, the Buhari administration officials, who were unsparing in their criticisms of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s failure to end the insurgents’ terror reign, now want Nigerians to appreciate that many countries that had been battling with terrorism even before the Boko Haram emerged were yet to succeed in totally eradicating the scourge.

And particularly disturbing are the utterances of President Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai that suggest that the government had exhausted its bag of tactics to completely rout the Boko Haram.

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Buhari had during his visit to Maiduguri wondered how the Boko Haram had managed to survive.

Gen. Buratai, apparently disturbed by the pressure on the government by the National Assembly for the removal of the service chiefs, lamented in an interview that the critics of the military’s handling of the Boko Haram war confuse internal security with national defence. His contention was that securing areas liberated from Boko Haram was entirely the responsibility of the police and that the armed forces had only been intervening where and when the police were overwhelmed.

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In statements that suggest that the government had run out of ideas, the president blamed the attack on Maiduguri on the local leadership. Buratai on his part believed the insurgency had persisted because the people had been indoctrinated for more than 10 years and that it would be impossible to sway their minds within a short time.

We note that the significant stride achieved by the Buhari administration in curtailing the Boko Haram but until the group bent on foisting its evil ideology has been completely routed out, the government cannot claim victory.

To achieve the ultimate success, the government needs to review and revitalise the security apparatus and personnel. There is an urgent need to bring on board military officers with fresh ideas. The welfare of soldiers on the frontline should be improved and corruption in the military eliminated to bring a fresh impetus into fighting the terrorists.

We also urge the government to deploy technological devices not only for surveillance of the war region but in eliminating the leaders of the terrorist group.

The allegation of funding of the terrorists by foreign governments to undermine Nigeria should also be investigated and the cooperation of friendly powers sought to be able to defeat the insurgents.

Unless the government gets back the vigour with which the insurgents were beaten back shortly after its ascension in 2015, it should not be a surprise if the Boko Haram gets more vicious and overrun the Borno State capital.

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