by Peregrino Brimah
In an attempted rebuttal of my recent article, “Jonathan defeated Boko Haram while Buhari mopped up,” a certain “Anthony Kolawole,” wrote the article captioned “Boko Haram: Of sugar coated lies and poisonous potions” which has unusually successfully appeared in Nigeria’s top mainstream dailies including the Vanguard and TheNation.
In this piece, I attempt to further the discussion by providing necessary evidence of my opinion and historic analysis.
There are a few main points the “Anthony Kolawole” individual delved in that I shall discuss. Other parts of his article which appeared to be pressured by the Nigerian military top command, bearing insults to my person, obviously do not merit a response.
1. In his or her piece, “Anthony Kolawole” introduced an unrelated issue for unknown reasons. He said that I fought for the surviving and dead Muslim minorities killed in the December 2015 Zaria massacre and that this discredits me. To this, I say that I am happy to be in the ranks of Femi Falana, SAN, Amnesty international, International Human Rights Watch and Nigerian Human Rights Watch, The USA and the Kaduna Judicial Inquiry panel who all condemned the massacre of hundreds of Nigerians in Zaria that December and their secret burial in the middle of the night.
2. Purchasing Military Gear: I challenge the military to defend its argument there stated that Goodluck Jonathan and not Buhari of today, deserved to be blocked by the US from purchasing ammunition for the Nigerian army due to his record of human rights abuse. Is the Zaria massacre of hundreds of Nigerians and exhumation of the dead and follow-up secret mass burial and the continued detention in contempt of the court of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat, not a violation that Nigeria’s own judicial inquiry panel indicted the Nigerian military in? How does the military view itself today in light of similar massacres and secret burials and other violations of the rule of engagement in Onitsha and Delta states? Why is Amnesty international being hounded by sponsored rioters today under the Buhari government?
3. As relates to the conversation on Buhari’s obstructing Goodluck Jonathan’s efforts to combat Boko Haram, the military defence as contained in the article claimed Buhari only commented in 2013 against violations against civilians. I provide herewith the link to the article in the Nation as well as a quote from Muhammadu Buhari emphasising the content in review:
Article caption: “Buhari faults clamp down on Boko Haram members“
Quote: The former Nigerian leader said that unlike the special treatment given to the Niger Delta militants by the federal government, the Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished by government.
“Because of that (injustice), his (Mohammed Yusuf’s) supporters resorted to what they are doing today. You see in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua sent an aeroplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled, and they were given money and granted amnesty.
“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the north were being killed and their houses were being demolished. They are different issues, what brought this? It is injustice”.
From the above, it can be seen that Buhari in 2013 was not talking about civilians but arguing in defence of Boko Haram terrorists who had decided to be a law onto themselves and act above the law through terror.
The above reference is an example of the outbursts I raised in my article as the resistance northern elite gave the weak Jonathan if and when he attempted to combat Boko Haram.
4. As relates to the territories captured by Jonathan vs Buhari, I would have been pleased had the military provided dated and referenced DHQ releases of the dates when Buhari liberated the towns I mentioned. I provided a list given by former Chief Media Consultant to the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response, Agencies, FOSSRA, Yushau Shuaib. I again quote:
“Some of the towns recovered before the coming of President Buhari were Abadam, Askira, Baga, Bama, Bita, Buni Yadi, Damboa, Gamboru Ngala, Goniri, Gujba, Gulani, Gwoza, Hong, Konduga, Kukawa, Marte, Madagali, Michika, Monguno, as well as Mubi and many others.
“A clear testimony to some of the accomplishments was the official DHQ release dated March 16, 2015 with reference No: DHQ/ABJ/901/32/DDI and entitled: “Troops finally rout terrorists from Bama and last stronghold in Yobe.”
In the response for the military, it was carelessly presented that Jonathan lost all the towns he liberated. I have painstakingly researched media stories from June 2015, days after Buhari took over, that provide evidence of Nigerian control of most of the towns listed above. I stand to be corrected if the military can provide us counter-evidence of when forces under Tukur Buratai re-liberated these same towns. I don’t believe there is any dispute Yobe and Adamawa were liberated ahead of the elections and remained so.
Towns Liberated As of June 2015 Before Tukur Buratai Took Over
- Nguru, Damaturu, Geidam, Gashua, Katarko, Goneri/Buni
And several others as listed that I am not bothering to list due to space and time.
In my article I acknowledged that in July, under Jonathan’s momentum and before Tukur Buratai functionally took over, Buhari re-captured Damasak and Dikwa; and that in September Buratai captured Gamboru-Ngala.
In June of 2015, BBC said, “Despite losing territory this year, Boko Haram still controls a few areas,” and the AFP put it this way, “There have been reported military gains in recent months by a coalition of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon but continued attacks underscores the ongoing threat from the rebels.”
The Nigerian military never countered these reports in the dailies. A problem, of course, has been the lack of transparency of the Buhari government without any information ever being released and all operations or the lack of them in the northeast being kept in sworn secrecy with intimidation of the locals.
5. In answer to the writer’s question on why Jonathan did not relocate people to liberated territories; that is simple. Firstly there was a need to remove mines planted by the terrorists. Secondly, there was a need to mop up wandering terrorists who were still laying siege to now abandoned liberated towns. Thirdly, there is always need to rebuild and make towns safe and liveable before relocating its inhabitants. This is what the Buhari government has slowly been achieving.
For keeping accurate history, Nigerians would be pleased if the Nigerian military can give a full and timely account of the progress of the war against Boko Haram especially in the pre-election sprint by Jonathan and on through the Buhari administration till date. Declaring Boko Haram defeated is a relative term as was recognised when in just 6 months Buhari first made the claim in December of 2015. However evidence thus far available in public realm points to major successes with towns liberated and numbers of terrorists killed, by the Jonathan government in its eleventh hour rush, while mop up as well as Sambisa operations as the main achievements by Buhari.
Neither of the two leaders has caught a single top politician sponsor of Boko Haram.
Both leaders have been implicated in funding Boko Haram with massive amounts of foreign currencies.
My conclusion remains that though Jonathan is to blame for the proliferation of Boko Haram, we must note that he allowed himself to be obstructed by the Northern elite who discouraged his efforts to battle them. We must also acknowledge that when Jonathan saw the role Boko Haram would play in the elections, he in an eleventh-hour war, acquired serious equipment, mercenaries and regional military cooperations and tactically defeated the terrorists leaving mop up operations to the Buhari government.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Dr. Perry Brimah; @EveryNigerian