Borno residents’ letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the fight against Boko Haram

The residents of Borno State have written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the state. The letter which highlighted 12 observations and 10 demands was presented to the president by delegates who visited the president on some issues which bothered about the fight against insurgency in the state.

In the letter to the president, it was observed that the Borno State Police Command is faced with challenges of low man-power and they are dependence on AK-47 rifles to counter Boko Haram fighters who attack communities with AA (Anti-Aircraft) rifles”, thereby making it difficult to meet up with their duty to preserve constitutional authorities in liberating and rebuilding ravaged communities in the state. Consequently, they have demanded in the letter that President Muhammadu Buhari should consider the provision of AA rifles for the Borno State Police Command for capacity enhancement as against the current dependence on AK 47 rifles” and also provide adequate manpower to the command.

The letter also questioned why majority of the 800 Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) members who were recently recruited by the Nigerian Army were deployed to other states rather than Borno State where they have a perfect understanding of the terrain and the strategies of repelling Boko Haram attacks.

The letter demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should prevail on the Nigerian Army to redeploy the 800 ex-CJTF to Borno State to help them fight insurgency in the state. The 800 ex-CJTF were described in the letter as fearless men who understand the terrain and strategies of combating Boko Haram insurgency in Bornu State.

In response to the request for redeployment of the 800 ex-CJTF to Borno State, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen SK Usman stated that  “the Nigerian Army does not deploy personnel based on the three extraneous variables of religion, ethnicity, or geography.” He also said that it is one of the reasons that the army is one of the most credible institutions in the nation.

The high powered delegates which represented the people of Borno State which was led by Governor Kashim Shettima met with the President at Aso Rock Villa on Monday 7th January, 2019 to present the letter to him comprise of religious leaders including the state chairmen of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Jama’atul Nasril Islam, journalists, labour, local government chairmen representatives of unions of women, national and state assembly members, elders, traditional rulers and two former governors. In presenting the letter Shettima stated that the letter contained key observations made by the people of Bornu State and 10 demands which require urgent intervention by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the letter, it was noted that more than 26,000 JTF members who are currently fighting Boko Haram alongside the military are making use of crude weapons. Consequently, they are prevailing on the president to work with the National Assembly to see the possibility of equipping a selected few members of the civilian  JTF with non-prohibitive weapons for a specific period of time under the strict supervision and regulation of the Nigerian military.

The letter to President Muhammadu Buhari was an off-shoot of the meeting convened on 31st December, 2019 by the state governor in Maiduguri which have in attendance senior military officers and other important security figures in the state. The letter to the president, although was not made public was divided into two sections which comprises of 12 critical observations and 10 demands of the people during the meeting.

The letter also expressed worries about the released of repentant Boko Haram fighters which were arrested by the active participation of the civilian JTF in intelligence gathering, identification and arrest.  They fear that these repentant Boko Haram fighters may act as spies to the terrorist group and also display some level of animosity to the civilian JTF members which were actively involved in their arrests.

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