Frustrated by worsening insecurity, amid wide criticism of government’s inability to protect the citizenry, Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd), yesterday, called for God’s intervention in the fight against insurgents and other criminal elements in the country.
The resort to divine intervention came on the heels of reported military air strikes in the North-east, which were said to have routed scores of terrorists. The terrorists had, allegedly, fired mortar bombs at civilian targets in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State, recently. That was as the security situation in the country continued to deteriorate, with armed extremists striking at will, kidnapping many, and killing scores.
In Imo State, the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, said persons blaming Buhari for insecurity were the ones behind banditry in his state. Uzodimma spoke on Monday in Owerri at the wedding ceremony of Chinedu, son of business mogul and politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, which held at the Cathedral Church of Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL).
In the continuing climate of insecurity, terror groups, Boko Haram and the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP), yesterday attacked a military formation in Molai area of Maiduguri, killing two security personnel.
However, breathing a sigh of relief, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, said the recent mass surrender of over 35,000 Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters and commanders was as a result of divine intervention following prayers from all over the world.
The air interdiction in the North-east came as Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya, charged troops to sustain the tempo of attack on terrorists.
The Nigerian Army Headquarters also reported the killing of an alleged member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State by military troops.
In his Easter message, Magashi called for religious harmony in the country, and prayed for God’s intervention to give the armed forces victory in their various campaigns against security threats across the country. He assured Nigerians of the military’s commitment to defending the sovereignty of the country.
Magashi said the Easter prayer should also focus on “remembering members of the armed forces presently engaged in various campaigns, for God to grant them total victory over all threats to national peace.” He prayed that this year’s Easter celebration “will usher in the desired peace and prosperity as well as a complete turnaround for the Nigerian Armed Forces to clear the doubts of cynics and return sanity to the dark spots in the country.
“The celebration of Easter, which coincides with fasting in the holy month of Ramadan by Muslims, is not a mere coincide, it underscores the need for religious harmony as well as portends spirituality and specialty of this auspicious times of festivities,” the minister stated.
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He urged the Islamic and Christian faithful to embrace peaceful coexistence and religious to make Nigeria a better country for all.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force said, after credible intelligence, it launched a devastating attack on Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters on four gun trucks at Kaffa, killing scores of the terrorists and destroying their trucks. This followed Sunday’s midnight attack by insurgents on Goniri in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State, where they fired mortar bombs on civilian targets, killing many civilians and injuring others,
A military update said the Nigerian Air Force also scrambled additional Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the location and inflict heavy casualties on ISWAP. It said the aircraft was, at the time of filling this report, still patrolling Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to ensure that the city remained safe.
Similarly, the Chief of Army Staff, who was represented by Maj-Gen GM Mutkut, urged troops to avoid any unprofessional conduct while discharging thier duties. Farouk said the troops should redouble their efforts in order to sustain the current tempo in the fight against the insurgency.
He spoke at the Headquarters Sector 3 OP Hadin Kai and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in Monguno, Borno State, as he joined the Christian faithful and troops of both commands to celebrate this year’s Easter.
In a similar vein, the Nigerian Army said troops of 34 Artillery Brigade, Sunday, neutralised a member of IPOB and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN), at Ihioma community, in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.
The army stated, “Troops’ on routine patrol encountered members of the irredentist group, who fired sporadically at Banana Junction to enforce the illegal sit at home order on law abiding citizens going about their legitimate businesses.
“The IPOB/ESN criminals on sighting the troops withdrew in a blue Toyota Highlander towards Ihioma Community for reinforcement. In the firefight that ensued during the operation, one of the criminals was taken out, while others fled in disarray. Troops are combing the general area in a follow up operations to track down the fleeing dissidents.
“Having suffered casualty and effectively denied freedom of action by the troops, the irredentist group has resorted to cheap propaganda to whip up public sentiments by circulating a doctored video on the social media alleging troops complicity in their mindless atrocities. This propaganda should be disregarded in its entirety.”
People Blaming Buhari Behind Banditry, Says Uzodinma
Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, took exception to the assumption that President Muhammadu Buhari should be blamed for the spate of insecurity in the state, saying those, who harbour such thoughts, are the ones behind banditry in the state.
Uzodinma stated that members of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state had become targets of attack by politicians and their collaborators, alleging that they are behind the banditry and killings in Imo State.
Speaking at the wedding ceremony in Owerri, Uzodimma said wicked politicians had decided to hold Imo State captive, killing innocent persons and burning public and private property in the name of politics. He urged the Church and the congregation to pray for such persons to repent.
On Sunday, while addressing the congregation at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Ozuh Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, on Easter, Uzodimma reiterated that the killings going on in the state were politically contrived. He said it was, therefore, pointless to point fingers at Buhari or the governor, as “some soulless persons” were wont to do.
“I pray that God will touch the hearts of these people, who are sponsoring the killing of innocent ones, burning houses and destroying public property in the name of politics,” he said.
The governor said it beat his imagination that in the incident, which took place at Ogberuru in Orlu last week, all the victims – ward chairman, ward secretary and woman leader – were of the APC.
“I have crosschecked since the inception of this mindless blood letting in Orlu, Orsu and other communities in the zone, not one Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) person has died, their houses burnt or attacked. It is clear to me, therefore, that these killings are the handiwork of politicians who are after the APC members,” he said.
The governor enjoined all men of goodwill to remain fervent in their prayers for God to touch the hearts of both the sponsors of the bandits and their collaborators to come to their senses, particularly, in the light of the occasion of Easter, when Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Firefight, Terrorists Kill One Soldier, Police Officer in Borno
Boko Haram and ISWAP extremists attacked a military formation in Molai area of Maiduguri, and killed two security personnel.
Eaglesforesight gathered that a large number of suspected Boko Haram elements in many vehicles and motorcycles, armed with sophisticated weapons, invaded the security checkpoints manned by officers of the joint task force, Operation Hadin Kai, comprising military and men of the 30/50 Police Mobile Force (PMF).
Military sources said sporadic gunshots rocked the area during the attack, which started about 6pm, forcing many residents of Lawanti Kura, NNPC Depot, and Molai to scamper to safety.
“After a fierce battle, one soldier, one Police Sargent, Babangida Yusuf of 50 PMF, were killed in action while one Inspector Chindo Samuel sustained injury.
The sources stated that one military gun truck and military ambulance were carted away by the terrorists. They were later burnt and abandoned as the insurgents fled on arrival of the military air support.
Molai is situated along Maiduguri-Damboa- Road, which is about 10 kilometres from Maiduguri. The attack came less than 24 hours after the Islamic State spokesman, Abu Umar al-Muhajir, announced on April 17 that it would launch attacks in retaliation for the assassination of its leader.
Surrender of over 35,000 Boko Haram/ISWAP Members is Through Divine Intervention, Says Zulum
Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, said the surrender of over 35,000 fighters and commanders of Boko Haram and ISWAP was a divine intervention through endless prayers from all over the world.
Zulum said this in his Easter message, stressing that the surrender is a miracle towards the healing of Borno State and the North-east.
He said, “The mass surrender of over 35,000 fighters and commanders is, certainly, one of Allah’s many miracles towards healing Borno State and rest of the North-east.
“This mass surrender is the product of the endless prayers citizens across Borno State, the North-east region, rest of Nigeria and, indeed, the world have been offering, seeking God’s intervention to heal Borno State. It is the product of immense sacrifices by the armed forces and volunteers. It is product of repeated calls by political leaders, clergies, elders and traditional rulers, asking insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace peace.
“We must, therefore, be optimistic in welcoming the likely benefits of disarming, demobilising, rehabilitating and reintegrating mass-surrendered insurgents.
“However, we must welcome them without disregarding the risks associated with the programme, hence, the need to sustain stringent security profiling and other Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) procedures that can ensure the overall safety of the programme.
“I, therefore, urge all citizens to fervently pray for the success of our DDR for the mass surrender of those who seek peace, and for the successes of our armed forces and volunteers in frontlines against those who insist on violence.
“May God grant us enduring peace in Borno State, the North-east and rest of Nigeria.”
Zulum added, “In over 12 years of our battles with insurgents (Boko Haram and later ISWAP) Borno State, for the first time, has a golden window that has the potential of ending the insurgency.”
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