Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Troops swoop on Boko Haram, claim end of sect is near

N’Assembly wants security agents to tackle terrorism

Soyinka, Bakare warn against reprisal

Petinrin says sect running out of suicide bombers

Reps shift probe into fuel subsidy

SECURITY agents operating under the aegis of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on Operation Restore Order (ORO) in Maiduguri have killed four persons suspected to be members of the fundamentalist Islamic sect Boko Haram.
But the uncovering of vehicles laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) cast a shadow over this victory.
The vehicles with the IEDs said to be owned by members of Boko Haram were uncovered in Kano where about 200 people were killed by the sect last Friday.
It was learnt that two vehicles, Honda and  Camry cars, were discovered to have contained the explosive devices at Gorondutse and Sheka parts of the metropolis.
Though there is no official reaction to the discovery, it is believed that the explosives may have been abandoned by Boko Haram members.
To ensure the return of peace to the state, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, yesterday led hundreds of Muslim faithful in a special prayer session.
However, commercial banks that initially opened had to shut down at about 10.00 a.m. when false news filtered into town that the state government had declared yesterday a work-free day.
Armed soldiers and plain clothes security personnel patrolled strategic points within the metropolis and stern-looking security operatives barred residents from gaining access to any of the police formations within the metropolis.            
Suspected Boko Haram  members took their terrorism to Minna, Niger State as they set ablaze a Christian missionary home, Bethany Home, and destroyed property worth millions of naira.
Although no life was lost in the attack, occupants of the home, mostly orphans and the less-privileged were rendered homeless as a result of the attack.
The Chief of  Defence Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin yesterday assured  that Boko Haram might soon run out of suicide bombers.            
Petinrin disclosed this during the official commissioning of the newly acquired naval ship Thunder in Lagos.The ship was officially commissioned by the First Lady Patience Jonathan at the Nigerian Naval Base in Apapa.
Petinrin said on the occasion that security agencies  would  soon stop bombings.
He said: “I wouldn’t say the bombings in Nigeria are incessant but it is common in some of the states in the North-East sub-region but even then, not every state there is unmanageable. We have some successes like in Yobe State. Peace has returned, unfortunately, it is now Kano which they are using as a quiet base where they hope to launch attacks from, against us.”
Petinrin maintained that Boko Haram was growing weaker because people were beginning to notice that they were not a religious group.
According to him, “the people have turned against them because they have seen through them (Boko Haram)… Nobody should leave where they live or where they make their livelihood because of threats from Boko Haram.  A terrorist organisation gets desperate; they start using suicide bombers because you won’t kill members of your organisation if you can achieve the same purpose without doing otherwise.
“This is why they have resorted to suicide bombers and by the grace of God, they will soon run out of idiots.”
For enduring peace to reign in the country, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and the convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare, have urged Nigerians not to attempt any reprisal attacks on themselves.
Speaking on the topic “Endemic corruption: The bane of good governance,” at a town hall meeting organised in Lagos yesterday by SNG, Soyinka described terrorism in the country as “an international violence spreading its venom all over the world. We should not attempt reprisal but protect ourselves.”
Soyinka stressed the importance of the recent struggle of the masses directed at battling corruption in governance and also advised those who did not believe in the movement to keep quiet rather than subject it to ethnic colouration. “Do not depress all of us because you have refused to believe in our cause,” he said.                  
According to the literary icon, the recent rally at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota Lagos, has registered how potent collectivism could eventually turn out to be. He said that  “something compact has arrived as a result of the five-day nationwide civil protest.”
Soyinka noted that the “presidential system of government in Nigeria is a disaster” considering the chunk of the budget allocated to its running. He identified the legislature as the centre of corruption because, according to him, some lawmakers actually earn more than the United States president. “We must change the legislative structure if we are to battle corruption,” he said.                
He said a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) was what the legislature could do but they could not be objective because of their respective interests.
According to Soyinka, the reduction in the salary of public office holders would not be an effective move because most of the officials have numerous channels through which they make more money within the government.
He said that the SNG was standing on the side of the masses to demand their rights from the government.
Bakare said that the “mandate of the SNG is to unblock the minds of our citizens, raise a critical mass of enlightened citizens who know their rights, duties and perform them. Raise citizens who can also demand their rights.”
An economist, Henry Boyo, said on the occasion that “corruption can only thrive when there are opportunities for it.” Also speaking at the event were the Afrobeat musician, Femi Kuti and Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin.
The four Boko Haram suspects are believed to have been involved in recent killings in Maiduguri.
But in the face of the massive destruction being caused by the sect, the killing of the four suspects may not elicit much cheer from  the citizens.
The National Assembly apparently had this in mind yesterday when it urged the nation’s security agents to do more and win the current terror war against Boko Haram.
JTF Field Commander, Col. Victor Ebhaleme, said in a statement in Maiduguri yesterday that the suspects were shot on Sunday at Pompomari ward in Maiduguri.
“Four suspected members of Boko Haram sect involved in recent killings of innocent souls
in Maiduguri and its environs were shot dead in Pompomari area of Maiduguri.
The suspects have been under surveillance of security agencies for some time before they were shot,’’ Ebhaleme said.
He added that the JTF also recovered a large quantity of IED in their possession. He warned those still harbouring members of the group to desist from this and give security agencies useful information “about their movements for action.”
Senate President David Mark yesterday said the authorities would not allow misguided persons to take Nigerians hostage.
He reiterated the resolve of the Federal Government to check the disastrous activities of Boko Haram.                  
The Senate president who led members of the National Assembly, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, to some of the areas affected when the Boko Haram  struck on Friday last week spoke while condoling with Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso at the  state government house.
“We cannot allow a few misguided persons to take this country hostage; there is no way we can allow this to continue as this problem is not about the North or South or about religion that we all belong to. It is a problem that affects us all and we have to join hands in nipping it in the bud. Kano is a commercial and trading hub of this country. If anything affects it, it affects the nation.”
Urging well-meaning Nigerians irrespective of their status to rise in unison to join hands with government in tackling Boko Haram, Mark charged security agents to redouble their efforts in the task of bringing the culprits to book.
The Senate president noted that the National Assembly was ever willing to make relevant legislation to redress the problems of terrorism in the country.
He hinted that the National Assembly may review the Anti-terrorism Act if this became necessary.
The Senate president who expressed similar views when he visited the  Emir  of Kano, Ado Bayero, in his palace condoled with  the victims of the blasts,  adding that it behoved  them to take their case to God who has the ultimate power of punishment and forgiveness.
Kwankwaso thanked the Senate president and members of his entourage for the visit, adding that the casualty figure was still being compiled.
Noting that the state government had put in place measures to avert a recurrence of the blasts, he revealed that he had placed an order with all government and private hospitals to treat all those wounded at the expense of the state government.
Also yesterday, the police said that a lone Boko Haram gunman attacked the Tandari residence of a Maiduguri High Court Registrar, Baba Loskurima (47), killing him at about 7.00 p.m. on Sunday in the Budum ward of the metropolis.
Loskurima, according to an eyewitness, Badigma Kolo, was shot dead before his wife and children, before the Joint Task Force (JTF) rushed to the scene and prevented the gunman from killing more people in the affected ward.
Confirming Sunday night’s killing, the Borno State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Samuel Tizhe said: “An unknown gunman approached the house of the Court Registrar and fired severally into Loskurima’s head and chest with a Kalashnikov rifle, before he fell and died in front of his wife and children. So far, no arrests have been made. But investigations are ongoing to trail the assailant that may have been going from house to house to kill innocent people in their houses.”                  
Due to the spate of killings in the country, the House of Representatives’ investigation into the management of funds allocated for subsidy was temporally put on hold yesterday to allow members of the committee to attend to issues arising from the blasts in Kano.
But because of the impromptu nature of the postponement of the public hearing, some of the agencies already scheduled to appear showed up at the National Assembly before they were told to re-appear today.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were among those that should have appeared to make presentations to the committee yesterday.
Confirming the postponement of the public hearing, the Chairman of the Committee, Farouk Lawal, who is a Kano State indigene, said the nature of the attack was such that could produce negative effect on not only members of the committee but persons who were supposed to make presentations as well. He said the open investigation would continue in earnest today.