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By Capt Hashim Abdullahi 
The Nigeria Army on Tuesday called on Nigerians to volunteer useful information to assist the military succeed in the counter-insurgency campaign. This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the service chiefs meeting in Maiduguri. The communique signed by Maj. Gen. John Eneche, the Director Defence information, called on Nigerians to provide veritable information to fast track the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East. Eneche stressed that such information is imperative to identify insurgents ‘sleeper cell’ locations, concentration camps and out-post locations. The army also called on members of the public to expose insurgents’ collaborators and informants as well as suspicious habitation in urban and rural areas. “The army appeals to the people to report isolated settlements and camps outside normal living areas”.  The communique reiterated the commitment of the military to end insurgency and ensure return of peace to the troubled North-East region. The meeting was attended by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Olanishikan, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Air Staff, AVM, Sadiq Abubakar. The heads of the military were in Maiduguri sequel to the presidential directives requesting them to relocate to the war theatre, to ensure effective management of the counterinsurgency operations.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, has assured that neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad Basin have been working together to end terrorism in the region. Osinbajo said yesterday, while receiving a delegation from the African Union Peace and Security Council, which has been visiting countries in the region on a fact finding mission on the crisis, which is part of its mandate. “The Lake Chad Basin collaboration is one we are extremely proud of, where we as Africans are working together on our own issues. I am pleased to say the countries have worked greatly together,” the Acting President said. He cited the progress of the Multi-National Joint Task Force set up to address the terrorist insurgency, noting that unlike in the past when there were difficulties, militaries of the four countries have tried to work together, the MNJTF surmounted the challenges.  According to him, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was “extremely pleased with what we have seen, and we like to see more,” of such cooperation.  However, he observed that the humanitarian consequences of the insurgency are compounded by deep poverty, making the costs of dealing with the situation “huge and enormous.” He recalled that there are for instance about 2.4 million displaced persons, extensive destruction of property, infrastructure, schools, homes and farmland. In some cases, he said, the situation required the “rebuilding of whole societies.” While expressing satisfaction with the work of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, he said: “I am extremely pleased and encouraged by the work of the PSC, the time and attention paid to this issue.
Former President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark, on Monday applauded the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, for the restoration of combat training at the Nigerian Military School (NMS) Zaria. This is contained in a statement signed by the NMS’ spokesman, Capt. Haruna Sani. According the statement, the senator made the commendation during the NMS’ Speech and Prize Given Day Ceremony in Zaria, Kaduna State. Mark, who was the President of the 6th and 7th Senate, said the reintroduction of training at NMS would boost students’ morale. Mark also an alumni of NMS said that the school had produced eminent Nigerians that contributed immensely to the development and unity of the nation. He observed that the school had remained the benchmark of not only academic excellence but also for character moulding. While congratulating the graduating boys for a successful six years journey, the lawmaker urged them to count themselves privileged to have passed through extensive military training. Mark charged them to remain committed, dedicated disciplined and prepare their minds for greater challenges ahead. The lawmaker enjoined them to be good ambassadors of NMS and contribute their quota to national unity and development. The statement said the event featured the unveiling of the Young Leader Magazine, presentation of awards to deserving students and souvenirs to dignitaries at the event.
• N.7 trillion spent in two years
Amid budgetary and human resource constraints, the Nigerian armed forces are fighting internal wars on many fronts and will have, by the end of 2017, spent about N700 billion in 24 months. Lawmakers are now taking steps to create an “Armed Forces Reserve” group to ensure that the military is not overwhelmed. The special reserve force, according to the lawmakers, will involve retired military personnel. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara says legislators are now poised to review the current architecture of policing to make it “structurally strong and effective.” Although officials would not disclose the expenditure profile for the war against the Boko Haram in the Northeast, more than half a trillion naira (N657.1 billion) have been budgeted between 2016 and this year as the military also grapples with pipeline vandals in Niger Delta and uprisings across the country. The amount, worth more than the N581.2 billion budget of the entire five states of the Southeast in 2017 — can build the contentious Second Niger bridge (estimated at the cost of N14. 4 billion) 45 times over. The old bridge links the Southwest and South–South of the country with the region. Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola recently fell out with the Senate for appropriating only N10 billion for a second bridge in 2017 Appropriation Act recently signed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. The Lawmakers argued that government would not be able to meet its financial obligations regarding the project, the reason they had to slash the budget. The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says the military has the capacity to contain any form of insecurity nationwide but declined further details. “When you talk about personnel that you have, you know it is not strategic information to be given out,” Director of Defence Information, (DDI) Maj. Gen John Enenche told The Guardian when asked for details of the military’s numerical strength and financial capacity in its ‘numerous wars.’ “It is not in our national interest and security to give out such a figure,” he insists. “But I will tell you that we have what is needed now at every point in time to contain insecurity in the country.” The 2017 report however says Nigeria’s more than 186 million people are backed up by a military strength of 181,000 personnel, with 124, 000 being active. The country also has reserve personnel of 57,000 soldiers.
The animosity between Nigeria’s security agencies and their unwillingness to share intelligence are hampering effort at effectively combating the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North-east, the United States government has stated. It stated this in the Country Report on Terrorism 2016 published by the US Department of State’s Bureau for Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism. For instance, the report said the failure of the State Security Services, SSS, which is primarily saddled with investigating cases of terrorism, to share information with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, makes it hard to investigate terrorist financing. “While the Nigerian military had primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the northeast, several government agencies performed counterterrorism functions, including the Department of State Security (DSS), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), and the Ministry of Justice. “Counterterrorism activities of these agencies and ministry were ostensibly coordinated by the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA). The level of interagency cooperation and information sharing was limited and at times hindered overall effectiveness.” The report also took a swipe at the EFCC and the Ministry of Justice for their apathy in prosecuting financiers of terrorists, observing that while it is political will to confiscate properties of known terrorists or their financiers, bureaucratic processes cause delay. However, it noted that the Nigerian government routinely shares the names of known terrorists and terrorist organisations to banks and other financial institutions. The report also stated that the military’s gain against Boko Haram appeared to have slowed down recently and the military has been incapable of exacting its control over recaptured territories.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Saddiq Abubakar, have relocated to Maiduguri as directed by the Acting President. They arrived the Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri on Tuesday. Maj-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, disclosed this to newsmen in Maiduguri. “Right now, we will be having an interactive session with the Service Chiefs where they will be briefed about the ongoing operation,’’ Attahiru said. He said that their relocation to Maiduguri was imperative toward achieving the overall objectives of the counter-insurgency operation. He said the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, and other heads of military commands would also be attending the meeting.
The UN has set up a new fund, Nigeria Humanitarian Fund, primarily to tackle the crisis-hit Northeast Nigeria caused by the destructive activities of the Boko Haram terrorists. The UN said the fund has also allocated more than $10.5m to help thousands of women, children and men in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. “The fund plays a vital role in ensuring an effective, coordinated, prioritized and principled humanitarian response, providing funding to international and national NGOs, UN agencies, funds and programmes, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent societies, with a focus on frontline responders. “To date, the NHF has received $25m in contributions and pledges, thanks to the generous support of Sweden, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, the Arab Gulf Program for Development, Azerbaijan, Malta and Sri Lanka.” “Another allocation is expected in the coming months,” the UN said. The UN said the 10.5 million dollars allocation by the new fund – NHF – would prioritize life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable, and also expand the humanitarian assistance provided by the UN and partners to the hard-to-reach and newly accessible areas. “The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s northeast and the Lake Chad region is one of the most severe in the world today. “There are 8.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the three worst-affected Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone. “Of them, 6.9 million people are targeted for humanitarian assistance,” the UN said. The statement quoted Edward Kallon, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, as saying the fund will address key humanitarian challenges in the northeast.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has inaugurated the NAF Post-Service Mortgage Scheme for young recruits and newly commissioned officers, in collaboration with the Federal Housing Authority Mortgage Bank Limited (FHAMB). To this end, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Cdre Olatokunbo Adesanya, on Tuesday said that over 1200 new recruits and young officers have registered for the scheme, which is part of efforts towards meeting the welfare needs of its personnel. Adesanya said the scheme, which also accommodates airmen/airwomen and officers with between 10 and 20 years to spend in the Service, is aimed at assisting personnel to have houses after retirement. According to him, the newly enlisted airmen/airwomen and commissioned officers as well as those with up to 10 to 20 years in Service are expected to open accounts with FHAMB and make monthly deposits. With this scheme, he said, the difficulties usually encountered by NAF personnel in raising funds from commercial banks, coupled with the relatively high interest rates, would be eliminated. The Spokesperson noted that one advantage of the scheme is that respective mortgage contributors are at liberty to choose where they want their houses located after which the NAF Housing and Construction Company Ltd would access their contributions and build the houses. He explained that the construction of the houses would be financed by the FHAMB while subscribers are expected to pay for the mortgage for the period of their service or within 10 to 20 years as the case might be.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Medical Services Branch has commenced a two-week de-induction programme for NAF Special Forces returning from counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East. The Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Cdre Olatokunbo Adesanya, on Tuesday stated that de-induction programme, which is at the instance of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, is the first of its kind in the history of the NAF. Adesanya said it is aimed at ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of combatants before they are reunited with their families and re-integrated into the larger society. According to him, the programme is also to ensure that personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder such as anxiety, nightmare and psychological depression are adequately treated. “While serving in the North East, some of the personnel could have developed physical and mental stresses as well as direct physical/combat injuries, the effects of which could last for a long period well after leaving the combat zone and hence, the need for the programme,” he stated. He said that while  declaring the programme open at 351 Medical Centre, Minna, the Chief of Medical Services (CMS), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Saleh Shinkafi, stated that a team of various health professionals such as psychiatrists, physicians, clinical psychologists, counsellors and social workers has been constituted to conduct the de-induction programme. According to the CMS, the NAF would take full responsibility for anyone found to have any medical problem now or in the future while there would also be close monitoring of their health for a few months after the programme. While commending the returning personnel for their commitment, dedication to duties and sacrifices made in the fight against insurgency, AVM Shinkafi further stated that the re-integration process is part of the efforts of the current NAF administration to add value to the lives of the personnel.
Police in Katsina State said they had arrested three suspects in connection with the recent killing of two Customs Officers in the state by armed robbers. The Public Relations Officer of the Police Command in the state, Mr Gambo Isah, on Tuesday, said “The two customs officers killed by the suspected armed robbers were Assistant Superintendent of Customs Nuraddeen Babandi and Chief Superintendent of Customs Maidamma Yabo.” Isah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the slain officers were serving under the Federal Operations Department of the Nigeria Customs Service and were on routine patrol when they were killed. He said the command had deployed a Deputy Commissioner of Police to the Daura Zone to investigate the matter. “The Command has deployed officers and men to the scene of the crime, with the aim of carrying out an intensive investigation on the matter. “The police command has recovered a motorcycle and a military belt from the suspects arrested near the scene of the incident,” he said The customs officers were killed at Dogon-Hawa, near Shargalle village in Dutsi Local Government Area of the state on Sunday night. The Katsina State House of Assembly has invited four top state government officials in-charge of security matters to provide an explanation for the increasing cases of armed robbery in the state.

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