Elders of North East have renewed the call for removal of Service Chiefs to strengthen the war against terrorism and banditry.
The call was made by the elders under the aegis of Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD).
The elders said the protests continued after scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) because of frustration occasioned by worsening insecurity in the country.
The group noted the disbandment of the unit was not the end to insecurity, insisting that “general restructuring of the sector starting with the removal of the Service Chiefs was the best way moving forward”.
They had kicked against the planned move by the Chief of Army Staff,Lt. General Tukur Buratai to launch a new operation Codenamed “Operation Fireball” to tackle insecurity in the North East.
The elders, in a statement by its National Chairman, Engr Zana Goni, said the declaration by Buratai to launch the operation was diversionary, saying it was “new wine in an old bottle.”
“We read in the news the renewed pledge by the Chief of Army Staff,Lt. General Tukur Buratai to launch new operation to tackle the worsening insecurity in the North,particularly in the North East following increasing activities of Boko Haram elements in the region.
“The Chief of Army Staff,who was quoted in the news as saying the country was approaching its critical stage in the counterterrorism stage, had promised to launch a new operation which he called “Operation Fireball,” saying it was the final onslaught against Boko Haram insurgency,” the statement read.
Buratai was also quoted as saying the new operation would be extended to insurgents’ hideouts of Sambisa Forest, Mandara Mountains and the Lake Chad region.
But the elders said while they welcomed the development, they believed it was a new strategy to get President Muhammadu Buhari to keep retaining the Service Chiefs in office.
According to them: “As a body of elders deeply rooted in peace advocacy in the country,particularly in the North, we see this plan as welcome development, given the worsening insecurity in our region. However,we wish to state that like many other pledges in the past,Buratai’s promise could be another way of getting President Muhammadu Buhari to back down on his plan to immediately restructure the security architecture which he fears would affect him.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari’s reasons for keeping the service chiefs whom he was supposed to have replaced due to overdue tenure, were because they were doing well in the fight against terrorism, neither the Senate nor Nigerians would be asking him to sack them.”
“Besides, it’s often said that one good turn deserves another. But reserve is the case as they’re underperforming. Civilians and soldiers are being killed every day by men of the underworld (Boko Haram), and other defiant sects. There are no safe places in the country again.
The group noted: “Recently, over 200 experienced soldiers were reported to have resigned. The Nigerian Army would later debunk it, but investigative efforts by some media outfits contradicts the position of the military authorities.
“Besides the recent news of resignation of over 200 soldiers, there were periods our media were pervaded with the videos in which some Nigerian soldiers were cussing and blasting the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, for not supplying them the needed weapons and ammunition to combat the Boko Haram terrorists. Most of these videos were made in the theatre of operations”.
It continued: “Churches, mosques and schools are not safe as they’re being invaded by terrorists. Some Nigerians in the North are seen fleeing to neighbouring countries to seek refuge.
“Soldiers who are supposed to be at the war front are tugging their khakis and resigning over lack of motivation from the service chiefs. There are cases of inadequate weapons and platforms”
“Soldiers have repeatedly complained
that their heavy platforms cannot move conveniently again. This has resulted in more and unprecedented blood bath. The toll has been always on the side of the troops because insurgents don’t tell when they want to strike.
“The troops struggle to get intelligence on Boko Haram plans against our troops while Operation Lafiya Dole plans are always on the media.
“There is so much politics involved in their operations and that is very unprofessional. We are always playing to the gallery without results.
“With all these,we wish to state that we see his new plan as a new wine in an old bottle, meaning without sounding pessimistic that like many other operations launched by both the Nigerian Army in particular and the Nigerian Military as a whole,no concrete achievements will be recorded in with what he’s planning.
“We cannot claim to have gained victory over the insurgents when our soldiers are still being killed in their numbers, when our civilian population is being decimated in large numbers by the Boko Haram elements and when those who fled their ancestral homes over a decade are still not safe to return.
“In spite of the several trillions of Naira spent,in spite of the several operations launched by all military formations in the country, it is still unclear how the rate of insecurity is on the steady rise across the country.
“It upon all these that we wish to appeal to the president not to be swayed by the Chief of Army Staff to launch another operation with a view to ending insecurity in the region. This we view as a new strategy for him and his colleagues to hold on to their positions.
“Despite his pledge,we wish to appeal to the president not to be distracted with the trick of the Chief of Army on this operation. The president should without consideration proceed with the sack of the service chiefs .
“Our position is because many indices have pointed to the fact that the nation’s service chiefs at the moment have lost touch with ideas on tackling emerging security situation in the country. There is no denying the fact that they are now bereft of ideas to change the game in the fight. They are also weary and should leave the stage for other younger generals.
“Besides,it’s been noted that each time Nigerians raise their voices on the sack of the Service Chiefs over obvious lack of performance,the Chief of Army Staff or one of the Service Chiefs would come up with a new operation to divert the public and government’s attention.
“This strategy by the Service Chiefs to hold on to their positions despite that they are still being retained illegally is unacceptable to majority of the Nigerian public. This is because in actual sense of it, people are still dying in their numbers daily in the North.
“In case the president is not aware,may we remind him that the growing tension being experienced today because of the ongoing #Endsars campaigns is beyond police brutality. It is simply, the result of frustration of Nigerians because of his adamant posture to restructure the entire security architecture.
“Nigerians are tired of insecurity not only in the North East but also the entire North which has no doubt taken toll on our national budget.
“The new twist by the service chiefs being currently championed by the Chief of Army Staff to hold on to their positions is not welcomed by greater Nigerians hence we implore the president to without further delay act by relieving them of their positions.
“We are tired of the cosmetic approach of the Chief of Army Staff and his colleagues over insecurity. We want them to go now so we have have new hands who can change the game against the terrorists holding us down”.