As the federal and state governments blame each other for the insurgency rocking Nigeria’s Northeast, political elders in the region say authorities cannot claim ignorance of the helicopters which drop arms and ammunition, food and medicine to areas known to be strongholds of the insurgents.
The elders, who spoke at a press conference on the platform of the Borno and Yobe people’s forum, also asked the government to provide answers to the attack on the Maiduguri Air Force Base by members of the Boko Haram sect, who reportedly de-mobilized and set alight air crafts and other military equipment despite the state of emergency and curfew in the town.
Speaking on behalf of the group, former chief of defence staff, Al-amin Daggash, a retired Air Marshall, asked the federal government to tell Nigerians those that authorized the withdrawal of security personnel from the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, few hours before the recent attack that claimed the lives of 59 innocent children.
Daggash said about 18 communities had been attacked by insurgents in the last one month with heavy civilian casualties and that official statistics released by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, revealed that over three million people have been displaced by the insurgency and terrorist attacks in the affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in the first three months of 2014 alone.
“The continuous bloodletting has led to the loss of over 17,000 lives. Most of the victims are women, children and the elderly,” he said.
The elders also wondered how the situation in the Northeast region deteriorated to the extent that criminals can move freely and act swiftly and successfully under a state of emergency without being apprehended.
“How did a little band of rag-tag misguided youths metamorphose into a well-kitted, well-armed killing machine moving freely in convoy of vehicles and supported by helicopters? How did the Shilka Tank, a multipurpose self propelled anti-aircraft artillery weapon, positioned to secure Giwa Barracks, fail to function resulting in heavy loss of lives of both civilian and military as widely reported in the media?” the elders queried.
As the state of emergency, originally declared in May last year and renewed for another six months in November expires on April 19, 2014, the elders said the people would resist plans to extend it as they believe it has failed to serve its purpose.
They, however, maintain that the developments in the region underscore the urgent need for the government, the international community, as well as all Nigerians, to arrest the brewing humanitarian crises in the area.
Other notable persons present at the conference were former minister of finance, Adamu Ciroma, former secretary to government of the federation, Babagana Kingibe, an elder statesman, Shetima Mustapha and other political leaders from the two states.