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BOKO HARAM 'LL SOON FIZZLE OUT -DEFENCE MINISTER

By NBF News
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Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed gave an assurance yesterday that the Boko Haram crisis would soon be resolved.

According to him, if the Niger Delta and Plateau crises could be settled, Boko Haram would not be different.

He spoke to reporters in Kaduna shortly after inspecting some facilities at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), even as the country's intelligence agency said it had changed its focus to training personnel on counter-terrorism and other related issues.

The Minister, however, declined clear comment on whether the government would dialogue with the islamic sect as suggested by some Nigerians.

'People can suggest dialogue or what they want to suggest about Boko Haram; we have our method of operation,' he said.

He noted that the increasing spate of insecurity has become world phenomenon, stressing that the government was so worried about insecurity and would modify its plan to counter any crisis that may disrupt the peace and unity of the nation.

'I assure you, we are handling the issue of Boko Haram in Maiduguri, and very soon it will be a thing of the past. But, we are worried for Nigeria and the Nigerians who become victims of the various incidents.

'People can suggest dialogue or what they want to suggest about Boko Haram, we have our method of operation; even before the Boko Haram, the Police and the military have got the modus operandi. They have their operational order, and we have a security plan for this country. We take suggestions from people; we also have our plan, so if it requires modifying our plan, we will modify it. But asking me how we do it will not be of any use because I am not going to discuss our security issue in the press.

'Insecurity is not limited to Nigeria; it is a thing that has come to the world since September 11, 200 bombing of American Trade Centre. Only recently, you heard what happened in Norway. There are reported instances all over the world.

'But we are very worried about what is happening in Nigeria, and the government is taking strong measures to make sure normalcy is restored.

'If you notice, the internal security operation in the Niger Delta has resulted in relative peace in that area. Internal security in operation in Plateau State has brought peace and quiet in that state,' the defence minister said.

Earlier, the NDA Commandant, Major-General Chukwuemeka Onwuamaegbu, informed the minister that the academy was facing challenges of obsolete equipment, insufficient accommodation for staff and the cadets, vehicles to aid movement of personnel and tools as well as laboratory to meet international standard, among others.

To these, the minister assured the commandant of the ministry's readiness to lift the standard of the academy, saying the 2012 budget would address the challenges.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) said it had shifted its focus from combat intelligence support of conventional warfare to training on counter terrorism and other related issues. According to NAIC, the idea was to effectively combat terrorism which it said now constituted the main threat to national security.

Similarly, the NAIC said it had purchased technical equipment relevant to the current security challenges and distributed same to groups and detachments to enhance their operational efficiency.

The corps said it was one of such equipment that was used to track down the notorious chief kidnapper, popularly known as Osisi Kankwu in Abia State.

Director, Military Intelligence (DMI), Major-General S.Y. Audu, who made this known at the 2011 Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps seminar holding at the Scorpion Officers Mess in Abuja, said the NAIC had intensified efforts on the training of personnel with emphasis on counter terrorisms where several of its officers and soldiers participated in seminars and fora organised locally by the United  States embassy and other foreign intelligence agencies on counterterrorism.

According to him, a good number of its personnel were currently undergoing overseas training on national security, strategic studies and counterterrorism in China, Israel and the United Kingdom and that its personnel had equally participated in seminars aimed at bolstering inter-agency cooperation.

A University of Ibadan don, Prof. Isaac Albert said the Boko Haram was a wake-up call on Nigerians to work together for the peace of the country.

The university teacher, who was the guest lecturer at the inauguration of Kutashi Centre for Peace and Development (KUCPED), an NGO in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, defined 'peace as the absence of physical, psychological and structural violence and presence of justice.' Prof. Albert is of Peace and Studies programme in UI.

He listed resources, values, psychological needs and communication as some of the causes of conflicts and violence in the society.

In a remark, pioneer chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Mustapha Akanbi said Nigeria would be better off if all could emulate the founder of the NGO, Alhaji Abdullahi Kutashi.

The erstwhile president of the Court of Appeal said, 'we don't all have to go into politics where it is believed when you are there you can make money by all  means. You can do something for the society so that it can be better than we met it. This is exactly what Kutashi has done.'

In a related development, leadership of Igbo ethnic nationality in Delta Central and South senatorial districts has called on President Jonathan to checkmate Boko Haram's activities, saying it was a threat to Nigeria's corporate existence.

In a statement issued yesterday and signed by the Onyeisi (leader) Ndigbo in the two districts, Eze Peter Chukwu, stressed that something must be done urgently to address the worrisome situation for the interest of national security.

He, however, expressed more worries that even foreign interests were infiltrating the issue and urged security agencies to be courageous enough to nip the issue in the bud.

'This worrisome issue is gradually turning into global issue and if care is not taken it may disintegrate this great country. Our president should take proactive step in addressing the issue,' remarked the Ndigbo leader.

An Enugu royal father and traditional ruler of Amadu in Udenu Local Government Area, Enugu State, Igwe Patrick Eze, has warned the president against the dangers of dialoguing with Boko Haram as it would tantamount to giving official approval to terrorism. The Islamic sect, he said, was executing a hidden agenda as well as violence, saying it was curious to note that the Boko Haram insurgency started soon after the April elections. 'This has betrayed its intentions and showed that its activities have political undertone.'

Meanwhile, the Special Task Force (STF) on  Jos crisis has denied rumours that members of Boko Haram were in the state to cause mayhem.

The speculations of the sect in Jos, JTF Commandant, Brigadier General Hassan Umaru, described as mere speculations, 'saying it is not true.'

The commandant debunks the insinuations yesterday in a press statement signed by the media and Public Information Officer of the (STF), Captain Charles Ekeocha, urging the public to go about their normal business without fear of molestations.