Ibrahim A.A, a native of Maiduguri in Borno State has called on the Service Chiefs to come to the rescue of his people, Nigeria and humanity at large by flushing out remnants of Boko Haram terrorists like they did in time past.
Ibrahim gave this charge in a touching letter to the heads of the nation’s security architecture on Tuesday.
The Maiduguri native recalled the genesis of the Boko Haram insurgency, its transition into a national and then regional crisis and how President Muhammadu Buhari’s election in 2015 ushered in a new phase.
According to Ibrahim, the appointment of the Service Chiefs particularly triggered the turnaround.
Among others, he recollected how troops repelled the terrorists’ attempts to take over Maiduguri with superior firepower.
He recalled how the military killed many of the radical Islamists and pushed them farther to the fringes of the Lake Chad.
Ibrahim, who is a businessman, acknowledged that “many of us have returned to our work and businesses and no longer had to be looking over our shoulders before taking a single step.”
However, following the recent attack at Zowo community in Gubio Local Government, Ibrahim urged the military chiefs to bring back their ruthlessness.
He, therefore, urged them to sustain the momentum which he said “has restored our hope and not allow evil to triumph over us.”
Read full letter below:
Dear Service Chiefs,
I believe a little introduction of myself would suffice in the light of what I am going to say to you.
I have lived in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital all of my life. Since the Boko Haram issue started in 2009 with a common confrontation with the police over the use of helmet, I have not stayed outside Borno State for more than two weeks.
The longest time I have stayed outside the state for the more than 10 years that the crisis erupted was for a little over a week when I went to attend my brother’s sons wedding in Abuja and decided to extend my stay to catch up over a number of issues with my elder brother.
Prior to the crisis, I have lived in Borno State for over 30 years and attended schools there before I started working as a businessman, though I went to do my NYSC in the Southeast.
This background I believe puts me in a good position to comment on what is happening in Maiduguri and other parts of the Northeast as regards the security situation in the country.
I was in Maiduguri when the Boko Haram insurgents attacked Giwa barracks shooting non-stop until they freed some of their members who being detained there.
I have also been around, the several times Boko Haram attempted to take down the state capital and I have come face to face and experienced the fears of residents and the height of hopelessness that at a time culminated in us giving up completely and were only waiting for when the worst would happen.
I’m a witness to how something that started as a non-issue within our homes and vicinities, with persons who we all know and relate with, galvanizing into one of the most heinous and devastating catastrophes of our time with a death toll that is now more than 20,000.
Boys who we could call and send on errand or reprimand when they err because they are our children, nephews, cousins etc, suddenly became uncontrollable and began to look us in the face and not only dared us but attacked us in the most vicious manner at will.
We thought we had defeated them when we began to report them to the security agencies and they removed themselves from our midst and converged in bushes and later in the Sambisa forest and the Mandara hills, until they began to invade communities, and abduct young girls at will, attack schools to kill innocent underage students and overrun communities killing people and destroying legacies.
I have seen families separated; breadwinners killed and wives and children fleeing in different directions never to reunite. I have been to many IDP camps and I have seen hunger, fear and near hopelessness on the faces of the people.
Hopes were lost when it was reported that even our soldiers started fleeing at the sight of the terrorists, but our hopes began to be restored when shortly before the 2015 elections, our military men were mobilised to face the insurgents.
When the military in that period killed many of the terrorists and pushed the insurgents farther to the fringes of the Lake Chad, we began to realise that it was not for lack of capacity that our troops were fleeing before the insurgents; that it must have been due to a number of factors.
Our former governor, Senator Kashim Shettima captured one of the factors when he said at one time that the Boko Haram fighters were better equipped than our military.
This is true because, at that time, the weapons the Boko Haram were using were quite sophisticated.
Our military couldn’t do much partly because the resources for the purchase of equipment were being swallowed through corruption and unpatriotic acts.
We were happy when President Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015 election because we knew him as someone with an adequate military background and war experience coupled with a zero-tolerance for corruption persona, who has the capacity to restore the pride and dignity of our people.
The President on assumption of office did not disappoint as he launched a probe into the funds meant for fighting Boko Haram which were allegedly diverted through the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the revelations that came from there.
Better still, the president ordered that the operational command for the fight against insurgency to relocate to the Northeast.
Shortly after that, he appointed the current set of service chiefs.
It was at that point that we started noticing significant changes in the fight against Boko Haram and we were not surprised when they were dislodged from their base in Sambisa and they started running helter-skelter into Chad and other neighbouring countries.
I am witness to how they were repelled when they attempted to take Maiduguri several times after and forced to flee when confronted with the superior firepower of our military in recent times.
The relocation of the Chief of Army Staff to Borno State since March which enabled him to visit hot spots of Boko Haram operations was good and his reported engagement of troops one-on-one served to boost their confidence as we could see the troops moving around with new gusto and air of confidence.
We were not surprised therefore when we began to hear about the series of victories recorded by our soldiers in Konduga, Dikwa, Bama and other places.
We were overjoyed when we heard the audio of the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau crying shamelessly and begging for mercy.
Our happiness knew no bounds when 30 of the top Boko Haram commanders were reported to have indicated an interest in surrendering to the Nigerian authorities and when 11 of them did so.
We applauded the Chief of Army Staff when he was shown on television reporting to the President how troops killed over 1400 of the Boko Haram terrorists within four months and arrested their informants.
We clapped because not only did we know that he was reporting the factual truth, but because we have seen the positive effects of the military operations in our lives.
Many of us have returned to our work and businesses and no longer had to be looking over our shoulders before taking a single step.
Some of the terrorists that ran back to our communities confessed of the devastation they suffered through air raids and ground counter-attacks by our troops.
But the last attack on Zowo community in Gubio Local Government almost eroded all the joy.
We saw ourselves in the same position we were before the coming of the current administration where communities could be attacked and humans slaughtered without a single fire in defence.
We are therefore appealing to the current set of service chiefs to sustain the good work they have been doing which has restored our hope and not allow evil to triumph over us.
We thank President Buhari who felt our pains when he summoned the security meeting in Abuja and asked the service chiefs to do more.
We join our voices to that of the President to call on the service chiefs to reenact their best which freed us from death and torture in the time past.
We appreciate what they have done in the past but wish to remind them that the battle is not over and they must not relent or relax.
Long live the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long live President Muhammadu Buhari.
Long live Nigeria.