By Suleiman Umaru
For the past five years there had been complaints by the former Service Chiefs, now Non Career Ambassadors, that why the military have not be been able to dislodge the Islamic Fundalmentalist and Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, Insurgents and Bandits in the north .
They had blamed the military ineffectiveness to dislodge the Insurgents in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and the Bandits in the north western states of Zamfara, described as home of the Bandits, Kaduna and Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari to insufficient arms and weapons.
Unknown to maNy , the Katsina state born Nigerian President had approved $1billion for the procurement of modern arms and ammunitions tackle the Insurgents in the north east and Bandits in the north west which was said to have been taken from the country’s Excess Crude Account, ECA, lodged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, with the consent of the 36 state states governors irrespective of the political dive.
There have been rumours making the rounds over the years that the arms Fund was not judiciously used for the purpose of the arms procurement for the military which put the county where it is today where Insurgents, Bandits and other militias armed to the teeth could rice up to make a section of the country ungovernable for years.
But Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security ADVISER, NSA, who would not sit-by and watch the former service Chiefs who had served the country diligently before they tendered their letter of resignation and which was accepted by the Nigerian Present to be sent to the cleaners.
In the heat of the Controversy over the alleged missing $1billion, under a regime which had been noted for fighting Corruption in the country from the onset, the NSA, was forced to give an insight into the arms procurements made by the then military Chiefs when the money was withdrawn from the CBN.
He was said to have told those that care to listen that the procurements made by the then service Chiefs had been full delivered by the oversea arms suppliers , noting that $536million of the amount was paid directly in a government –to-government transaction with the North American Continent country of the United States under former President Donald Trump.
Given an insider information to the arms deal , he disclosed that hat it was in 2018 that the United States government gave approval to the Nigerian government to buy to buy 12 Tucan aircraft believed to be suitable for use in the north east. He further disclosed that other military hardwares were procured by the military with the arms funds.
The NSA, who may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President had said that nearly 100% of the arms procurement had been delivered for the soldiers, adding the Air Force had bought 35 attack helicopters from Ukrain.
He noted that the army may not have made any appreciable impact in dislodging the Insurgents in the north east or the Bandits and other armed militias in the north west because there have been problems with the procurements that was made by them as the arms have coming into the country in bits and pieces which does not making for good planning. He noted that biggest of the arms procurement had been held up in the United Arab Emirates , UAE, over the last couple of years begging to be released to the Nigerian government.
The question on the lips of most people was why the UAE Authorities had been sitting on the arms that had been paid for by the Nigerian government, to fight Insurgency in the north east and Banditry in the north west which speaks volume. This may have informed why Bashir Salihi Magashi, a retired Major General and the minister of Defence, had taken up the matter with the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria in order to resolve matter through Diplomatic approach so that the procure military equipment would be released.
Notwithstanding the action of the UAE government to withhold Nigeria procured arms in their country for now, Munguno, the NSA, had said that Nigerians have no cause to worry as these arms procurement s are ongoing. Hear him, ‘’arms are not something that could be bought on the shelf, stressing’’ that they are bought on order’’.
He had urged those looking for an opportunity to indict the former service Chiefs of diversion of funds meant for arms procurement to look elsewhere. He may have alluded to the former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration where $2.billion meant for arms procurement for the Insurgency war in the north east was allegedly misused.
The Nigerian President may have known that time is no longer on his side to keep to his 2015 promise of crushing the BokoHaram Insurgents in in the north east six months, which had turned to six years, and the subsequent emergence of the ISWAP , Bandits and other armed militia groups that he has become very desperate to fulfill his promise to Nigerians.
Aware that his efforts over the last six years to tackle the spate of insecurity across the country have not proved to be good enough may have informed why he had said that his government ‘’is becoming desperate in its attempt to tackle the security menace’’.
It s not surprising why he has given a shoot-at sight order to security operatives against anyone found allegedly carrying AK47 on Thursday, March 11, 2021. He may have handed down the order to the security agencies personnel due to the intelligence he was said to have been getting that ‘’the Criminal elements still don’t seem to be short of arms and ammunition’’.
The Bandits in the north east may have sent a signal to the security Operatives that Presidential directive is not for them as they had continued to operate as usual attacking Communities and abducting students for ransom which are used to procure arms from the gunrunners for their operations in the north west. Only recently, 39 students, to be precise, were said to have been kidnapped by the Bandits in Federal College of Forestry in the Afaka area of Igabi Local government of Kaduna state. Butt for the quick intervention of the army, the gunmen could have abducted 180 other students including staff.
The worry of many was that the Bandits on the College and kidnap of its 39 students should not take place because it is a security area. The attack on the school, which is just a few Kilometers away from the Nigeria Defence Academy, NDA, also in Kaduna. Has raised a lot of questions. On March6, 2021, the gun men had attacked the Federal Airport Authority,
Note the College of Banditry and kidnapping in the state is also not too far away from the Kauna airport road, described as one of the hotbeds . While Nasiru El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state is worried over the repeated attack and kidnap of students, the Bandits , who many see as an offshoot of BokoHaram, because of the sophisticated weapons at their disposal and style of operation which is not different from the north east Insurgents had attacked six Zamfara states.
The state which had been declared a No-Fly zone as a way to tackle insecurity in the state by the Nigerian President had attacked six villages in two Local government areas of the state simultaneously.
Five of the attacked villages are located in Maradun LGA. The Maradun villages attacked by the gunmen included Damaga, Jihiya, Shadame, Gidan Runji, Daki Hudu while Kira, the sith village is in Tsafe LGA. The bad news was that the Bandits had killed scores of people from the six villages.
The attack and gruesome murder of the people may have forced Bello Matawalle, the state governor, to caught short his official visit to Sokoto, the Caliphate state to return to the state which was on fire. He was in the state on invitation on three social engagements which included the Joint Convocation Ceremony of Sokoto state University alongside Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice Presidnt and Mauloud Ceremony of Prophet Muhammed SAW, and the historic turbanning Ceremony of Shettiman Sokoto by Sa’adu Abubakar, a retired Brigadier Geneal and Sultan of Sokoto, which has been conferred on him.
He was said to have cancelled all the events and proceeded to Maradun town, to symphatise and Condole the families of those who lost their lives as a result of the Bandits attacks. Aware that the Bandits may want strike again in another Communiy in the state, the governor was said to have directed the security agencies in the state ‘’to evolve more ways as a further push to bring an end the activities of the Bandits and bring lasting peace to the state’’.
The ear in both official and unofficial circles was that if the Federal government decides to open up Negotiations with the Bandits which may eventually lead to granting them amnesty as been canvassed by Matawalle, the Zamfara state governor and Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, a cleric, would it give them room to penetrate the ranks of the security operatives and do more havoc in the in Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states.
It is not surprising why Munguno, the NSA, had said that the government would never Negotiate with Criminals.’’ Negotiations would give Legitimacy to the Bandits and their method and undermine actors who have pursued political change through peaceful means’’, analysts had said. They noted that such Talks can destabilize the Negotiating governments, political systems, undercut international efforts to outlaw Banditry and terrorism, in the country.
This is bad news to Gumi, a non state actor , who had expected to be participate in the Negotiations between the Government and the Bandits in the north west in order to restore normalcy in the region.