#BBOGCountdownTo6Weeks: Week 2 Statement; 21 to 27 February 2015
Review of Week Two
On February 22, 2015, we issued a report on the first week of our monitoring initiative of the 6 weeks period given by the Federal Government to restore peace in the North Eastern part of the country, so that a conducive climate for elections will emerge. We conveyed that our monitoring exercise is essentially for the purpose of helping entrench public accountability and as we stated then. Also we stated that our Movement will provide a Weekly Report each of the six weeks of the renewed military operations. Today, we are delighted to present the second Weekly Report covering period February 21st to 27th.
For the avoidance of doubt we wish to reiterate as we already did in our first Report that our Movement fully supports and endorses the on-going operations of our military. We also commended their early efforts and the results so far accomplished. As a Citizens movement that has been advocating for the rescue our 219 ChibokGirls and other abducted victims of terrorism, we cannot but continue to press for more results as the operations continue. We shall continue to laud every evidence of success even as we stand by our Ground Troop in executing this war to eradicate terrorism from our land.
We shall in doing so also continue to demand for accountability and better performance by our Government as it executes this constitutional responsibility of ensuring safety and security for all Nigerians and our land.
- Matters Arising From Last Week’s Report:1. In our maiden Report covering the period 14th to 20th February we requested that the reporting of the activities – successes and challenges- of the war be backed up with relevant evidence to enable Citizens fully grasp the progress being made. Since our demand, we have seen signs that the military and the Federal Government did take some steps to address the thrust of our concerns. We have since been seeing a spate of images and audio visuals of activities in the battle front now available in the public domain. For instance we and members of the public took delight in watching a video of aerial combat in which our Military was decimating a Boko Haram enclave. We applaud such public confidence boosting visuals and ask for more of such evidence. The reason is simply that in times like this, such evidence based messages of victory at the battle-front enormously help to rekindle citizens’ trust of the counter insurgency operation considering that it has unfortunately been ridden with many suspicions and challenges.2. Regrettably, the military has yet to take steps to respond to our call for third- party independently-verified accounts of the war. We do not wish that the efforts of our gallant troops be cast in any shadow of doubt by a disbelieving public because of previous disappointments. It is for this reason that we reiterate the importance of having journalists embedded among the ground troops to independently cover the counterinsurgency effort. Such practice is in fact a global standard by militaries prosecuting war in various countries. We have observed that this practice has been adopted by the Chadian military who have allowed independent reportage of their operations. Please visit the following link to read the details of independent media reporting of the Chadian military activities against Boko Haram:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2972964/The-fanatics-line-Soldiers-Chad-patrol-central-Africa-counter-growing-menace-Nigerian-militants-Boko-Haram.html3. We noted the displeasure expressed by the Nigerian Guild of Editors in what they considered a lack of disposition of our military for allowing journalists access to the warfront.
We wish to reecho their concern and request the military authorities to engage their association in resolving the issue. We absolutely consider it appropriate that our military would act like those of our neighboring countries and designate independent journalists as part of its contingents within the MNJTF.4. We also welcome the visit of the Chief of Army Staff and the President visits to the battlefronts as it is an issue on which we have long advocated as a morale booster for our troops who are making enormous sacrifice to ensure our safety. While the visits enabled citizens to follow the state of things in the areas visited, it was the sight of the citizens in reclaimed Michika that most conveyed a message of one successful exploit by our soldiers. No similar scenario of citizens settling back into the reclaimed Mubi and Baga was shown. The standard of victory which has been set in the Michika recapture with visuals of soldiers watching over jubilant residents should be adopted as the model for further media releases related to re-captured territories.
5. It bears repeating that the current military operation in collaboration with neighboring multinational forces is focused on ending the Boko Haram insurgency, reclaiming all the territories occupied by the insurgents and bringing back our #ChibokGirls. Despite the number of towns that have been reclaimed, a significant amount of communities remain under the control of the insurgents. This raises the need to constantly keep a focus on the breadth and depth of even the current renewed counter insurgency strategy.
For example, like most citizens, we were shocked to hear our President and Commander- In -Chief confess, during the week under review , that “his government had underestimated the war against our country by Boko Haram.” When viewed alongside the tragic reality that our country has lost about 13,000 lives to this war, it raises serious issues of lessons that we wish to see our leadership draw from previous failures of strategy and execution. In the renewed approach therefore it is crucial that we do not again under estimate nor be slow to respond due to failure of effective clarification of objectives and timelines.
CLARIFYING THE EXPECTATIONS OF CITIZENS FROM THE OBJECTIVES OF THE 6-Weeks MILITARY OFFENSIVE.
i. Rescue Our 219 ChibokGirls Speedily: Based on the assurances given by our President and the leadership of the military, we have been expecting a concerted effort to rescue our 219 ChibokGirls who have remained in the custody of the insurgents for over 300 days. It is thus disheartening that in the fourteen days of the operations, there has so far not been any mention of the specific measures targeted at their rescue. We are immensely worried that there seems to be a repeat of the eerie silence that characterized earlier purported rescue operations for the girls.
We therefore encourage the Federal Government and the Military to urgently douse the anxieties of their parents and the general public on how the plans for their rescue intersect with the ongoing operations. Our key desirable from the relaunched operation is that these long suffering young women and other abductees be rescued from the enemy den. We therefore urge that our Military be unwavering in achieving this objective.
ii. Following the confusion on which towns were under terrorist occupation or not before the renewed offensive, it has been difficult to fully follow the multiple victories of reclamation by our military. It is therefore expedient to publish for the benefit of citizens, the list of towns and communities that the Military acknowledges as still remaining under the control of the terrorists. Such transparency would serve the purpose of helping citizens fully appreciate news of re-captured territories. Our expectation based on the Federal Government and military stated objective is that ALL territories of Nigeria must be reclaimed from Boko Haram at the end of the six weeks renewed offensive.
iii. Another important expectation is for our military to advance on all terrorist locations to capture the terrorists and destroy their operational capacity and end their operation in Nigeria and the neighbouring territory. We do hope that as much information on the workings of the terrorists are being gathered in the course of the renewed offensive as our military decimates their enclaves. A soldier who deserted from the front lines gave insider revelations from the linked article by the Vanguard Newspapers:
iv. In reclaiming all terrorist occupied territories, we expect a robust security arrangement for the returning Internally Displaced Persons so that they can fully resettle into normal life as quickly as possible. Can there be a formalized arrangement of support for all returning IDPs to enable them return to normal life speedily?
v. The growing positive shift in the dynamics of the insurgency war rightly evokes a mood of victory. We however advise that the Federal Government and the Military should eschew any form of triumphalism at this time. Considering the huge objectives that remain a singleminded focus on achieving more targets would help ensure minimal distraction that our soldiers need for TOTAL VICTORY against our common enemies.
- CONCLUSION:As we stated last week, we eagerly look forward to victory of our military and the MNJTF. We are extremely hopeful that the military will succeed in bringing back our #ChibokGirls We are confident that Nigeria shall see an end of insurgent operations within and terrorist incursion into our territories. We wait in great and anxious expectation for the return of order, normalcy, peace and security to Northeast, Nigeria.Once again, we continue to be proud of our gallant fighting men and women of the military and the MNJTF, (not forgetting the Civilian JTF), in the frontline of battle and wish them resounding success in the weeks ahead.
We therefore join all Nigerians in saying, NEVER AGAIN!!!
GOD Bless Nigeria.
For; BringBackOurGirls Group