Mukaila Ola in Maiduguri
The Nigerian military has described as baseless and unfounded, the allegation that troops prosecuting the war against terrorist groups in the North East are engaged in illicit farming and fishing activities.
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, had alleged after his convoy was attacked in Baga by suspected Boko Haram terrorists about two weeks ago that it was a sabotage by the military.
The governor had also accused that the military were involved in illicit fishing and farming activities in Borno State, while calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to take step to arrest the drift in the fight against terrorism
Addressing a press conference on Friday in Maiduguri, the Deputy Theatre Commander, the military counter-insurgency operation in the North East (Operation Lafiya Dole), Major General Felix Omoigui, who led an investigation team set up by the military to investigate the allegation, said: “The allegation was conjured by overzealous personnel of security agencies who for personal glory and without recourse to tenets of agency coorporation, decided to propagate the story.”
He lamented that: “His Excellency, the Governor of Borno State believed this allegation levelled against troops in Baga given his recent utterances.”
He regretted that: “Remarks of highly placed personalities is capable of demoralising the troops which negatively undermines the confidence of the locals in the military.
” His Excellency, the Governor of Borno State, has been in constant touch with the Theatre Commander and Sector 3 Commander, he could have reported the allegation for investigation. Allegation of this nature could have been avoided if the military authority was contacted on issues concerning troops activities before going public.”
Omoigui said: “The realisation that the allegation emanated from personnel of security agencies could trigger reaction and animosity on troops. The investigative team recommended that the security agencies should ensure to educate their personnel to verify an information before disseminating same.
“His Excellency, the Governor of Borno State should be respectably informed that the allegation was false. The Governor should be informed of the need to contact the military headquarters for issue of this nature. Troops should be sanitised to be professional in line of duty.”
He said the investigation revealed that there was no commercial activities in Baga with the streets totally deserted and the only people in the town were military and members of the Civilian JTF.
He said: “There is no civilian presently in Baga. The town is presently occupied by soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Taskforce who are still undertaking operations and providing security in the area.
“The entire Baga is heavily mined with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which has not allowed for any farming activities.”
Omoigui revealed that the investigation was not only a military affair, but that other security agencies and even the media were involved on the Baga trip in order to ensure it was open for everyone to see.
He said the military decided on addressing a press conference to show to the world that the allegation was unfounded and to clear the air.
He said it is however left for anyone to take a decision on what should follow.
On who fired the gunshots at the governor’s convoy, Omoigui said: “The investigation on who shot during the governor’s trip is still ongoing and the report will come out in due time.