Burnt Commuters by Boko Haram

The recent incidents of insecurity especially the killing of 30 commuters in Auno, Borno State has moved the Nigerian House of Representatives to call on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the North-East.

The decision of the House was a sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance following the recent Boko Haram attack on Auno, Borno State where about 30 commuters were burnt, moved by the Chief Whip, Hon. Mohammed Monguno.

In his lead debate, he said that because of the security challenges in the North-east zone of the country, commuters on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Road are compelled to suspend their journeys once it is 6:00 pm.

Monguno noted that Auno village is one of the spots where the Nigerian Armed Forces instructed the commuters on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road to spend the night before proceeding on their journeys the next morning.

He stressed that on Sunday, February 9, 2020, while commuters in their hundreds were waiting in Auno village, the military men left them to their fate or at best abandoned them, adding that while the commuters were waiting to spend the night, Boko Haram insurgents attacked, kidnapped and burnt some of their vehicles.

The lawmaker expressed concern that the occupants of two Hummer buses and one Sharon bus were kidnapped, 18 vehicles burnt and 30 people killed including an infant while lamenting that no super military camp exists on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road, hence exposing the commuters to the danger of being killed, maimed or kidnapped.

In his contribution, Hon. Ahmed Jaha said that he traveled to Maiduguri to attend wedding ceremonies of his younger sister and brothers, but expressed sadness when he heard about what happened in Auno.

He alleged that the military authority got an intelligence report of the impending attack, yet they did nothing about it.

Jaha stated: “By the time they locked the gate, 15 minutes preceding the actual time designated for the closure, they left the checkpoint. And for your information, the gate linking that particular village with Damaturu was equally locked. So, the commuters were left helpless and they were exposed to these attacks.

“And to the best of our knowledge and from the feelers we have been hearing, this attack was preventable, this attack was avoidable, this attack was equally repellable. But failure or inability on the part of the Nigerian Army to have a constructive listening of intelligence gathering from the DSS and other relevant informants in the community led to this attack.

“From the feelers, they have been receiving and communicating that there is a potential attack by the Boko Haram insurgents as they were sighted in the community A and they were heading to community B. Three or four hours preceding the attack, but nobody cares to do anything. The world is watching us.”

Jaha noted that he was ready to give his life if the people of the North-east can live in peace, noting that the most painful thing on earth is for you to stay in your comfort zone when your constituents are dying like animals.

House of Representatives

He said as far as he was concerned, it is a national issue, noting that it happened today in Borno, only God knows tomorrow where it would happen in the 36 states of the federation because of negligence or complacency of the part of the security operatives.

Jaha also noted that the “super camp” approach by the military contributes to the increasing sporadic attacks in the North-east.

He added that it was a deliberate attempt by the military to shield themselves from Boko haram attacks, while the civilian remains vulnerable.

Jaha noted: “There was what was introduced by the Nigerian army known as super camp. It is the contributing factor to all these sporadic attacks from late last year to early this year. The concept of ‘super camp’ called for the closure and withdrawal of all military bases, military checkpoints and all military formations along the major roads and stationed them in one location or position. I don’t think the entire military operatives were widely consulted for that particular decision. I don’t think the standing committees of this honourable chamber were consulted for them to take that decision and to add the end victims.

“It is a deliberate attempt by the Nigerian Army to shield themselves against Boko Haram insurgents’ attack, thereby exposing civilians to a series of attacks. Shielding themselves in the sense that they operate a super camp, thinking that they will be repelling attack continuously. For how shall we be repelling attacks instead of taking offensive attacks. Proactive measures provide a permanent solution.”

In his contribution, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, said he still stood by the call that the service chiefs have outlived there usefulness.

He added that the lawmakers cannot come to the chamber every now and then and keep discussing this matter while expressing worry that one day, the lawmakers would be chased out of the chamber by Nigerians.

According to Elumelu, “I think it is the right time the right thing is done. I still stand by the resolution of this House that the services chiefs have outlived their usefulness, they should go.”

The House, therefore, resolved that “State of emergency be declared on security. House Committees on Army; National Security and Intelligence to investigate the remote causes of the attack. The Committee on Army should investigate the setting up of super camps and withdrawal of the military from checkpoints.”

It also directed the military authority to henceforth stop keeping commuters overnight at a particular period on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road and directed the military authority to allow commuters to proceed on their journeys even after 6:00 p.m, while also ordered an investigation into the incidents of low morale amongst troops fight insurgents in the North-east.