Rout the cowardly terrorists – Leadership

By The Citizen

Even as the nation mourns with the parents and relations of 50 to 60 male pupils of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, in Gujba LGA of Yobe State, who were callously murdered by armed bandits on Monday night, and with the people of Adamawa State whose relations were murdered by the same evil people yesterday, our gallant soldiers must be cheered as they pursue the cowards to the ends of the earth. Boko Haram terrorists have shown, by their tactic of invading hapless villagers and students on the fringes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, that they have no agenda other than to cause fear and sorrow. If it is to prove that Nigeria is incapable of protecting its own citizens, they have failed.

Everybody must now join hands to root them out as quickly as possible. It is of no use arguing over who was right or wrong between Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno and the Presidency: our troops are superior to Boko Haram. The latter is composed of wild animals or timid beasts that seek to destroy innocent children, old men and women. They have been driven to the caves, mountains and forests where they, like other wild beasts, deserve to live in.

The dastardly pre-dawn killings in villages like Bama, Izge and Malari in recent times suggest, however, that the wicked terrorists are facing defeat and therefore wanting to go down with hundreds of innocents. At least 360 lives have been lost this month alone in these villages. In some cases, several school maidens were taken away as prisoners to satisfy the sinful desires of the gunmen who have no morality and pay no allegiance to any religion. Only deranged fanatics, as President Jonathan described them, would deploy explosives, AK 47 rifles and rocket launchers in a 'war' with unarmed kids and villagers.

No doubt, the emergency rule in the three north-east states has not been useless. But this time calls for a change of strategy. The brazen and unhindered ease with which the insurgents capture 'secured' places of worship and barracks highlights the failure of intelligence. For instance, a traditional ruler in one of the villages attacked last week narrated how he put a call to an army commander when he got information about the presence of the terrorists. The phone rang, but, rather than pick his call, the commander switched off his phone altogether for the four or five hours during which the murderers operated. Similarly, a checkpoint near the college in Buni Yadi was dismantled a few hours before the assailants moved into the school on Monday night. Soldiers manning checkpoints in Adamawa fled yesterday on sighting the terrorists. Is the mask of 'Boko Haram' coming off? That the sect has members in the armed forces is no longer in doubt. But why have all the Judases not been spotted and eliminated? Are some people prolonging this war because of monetary gains?

In all the counter-terrorism designs so far experimented with, the military has not been able to connect the dots in terms of intelligence. And that explains why they have been caught napping at times. The timing, logistics, firepower and technical competences may favour our military, but the ultimate victory will come from good intelligence. The top echelons of the military should wake up to their responsibility, stop playing the ostrich and to the gallery, and halt the marauding forces. Failure in this anti-terror war is not an option.