Nigeria: Military Denies, Disagrees With Ceasefire, Calls It A Joke

Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade

  • DHQ authorises restoration of phone services in Adamawa 
  • Yobe to make schools impregnable to attacks

July 12, 2013

By Senator Iroegbu and Michael Olugbode

The military authorities have expressed doubt over the authenticity of the recent ceasefire said to have been reached between the federal government and Boko Haram Islamic insurgents, saying they were not carried along in the whole process.

Sources within the military, who confided in THISDAY Thursday, cast doubts on the credibility of the ceasefire, which was spearheaded and announced by the Minister of Special Duties and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution on Security Challenges in the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki (SAN).

They noted that the process leading to the pact with the sect was defective, since the military authorities and even the commanders on the ground, especially in the north-east geopolitical zone, were never at anytime involved or consulted before agreeing to the ceasefire.

One of the military personnel demanded to know the terms of the ceasefire agreement, asking, “On what grounds was the ceasefire signed and agreed upon? There must be caution, so we are not fooled.

“Obviously you cannot just wake up and announce that there is a ceasefire without the terms of some agreement.”
Another wondered, “Is that how to sign a ceasefire. They are not serious. They are just fooling themselves and I am sure that the man is on his own.

“Surely, that is not how to sign a ceasefire. You cannot sign a ceasefire without carrying the troops along. He cannot fool anybody.

“I am not aware of any ceasefire or whatever you call it, neither are the commanders on the ground to the best of my knowledge.”

The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, while responding to THISDAY enquiries this week, had said the military was yet to be informed of the ceasefire agreement.

“We are not aware of any ceasefire yet,” was his response when informed about the purported agreement on Tuesday.

However, Turaki has maintained that the ceasefire announced on Monday was real and was signed with the “mainstream” Boko Haram insurgents.

He insisted that the federal government had also accepted the ceasefire with the group and that a formal agreement would follow soon.

As at the time of going to press, the minister was yet to respond to the military’s position that it was not carried along on the ceasefire arrangement.

Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has authorised the restoration of mobile phone services in Adamawa State, while the decision to restore telecommunications services in Yobe and Borno States still remain under consideration.

Olukolade, in a statement Thursday, said the restoration of phone lines was as a result of the security evaluation in the states affected by emergency rule.

He said the development was in line with the planned phased restoration of phone services and was in response to the reality of the situation in the states.

According to Olukayode, phone services would be restored in the other states as soon as subsequent evaluation indicates sufficient clearance for the restoration of services.

“This measure is also in consideration of various appeals and need to reassure the public that the measure is purely for security reasons, as well as the need to ease the situation in line with the Ramadan season,” he said.

boko haram capacity 9He also disclosed that the DHQ fact-finding team set up in the aftermath of the attack on a secondary school in Yobe State last weekend, which led to the death of 30 students, one teacher and a local resident, has since returned to Abuja to brief the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

He said while in Yobe, the state’s governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, had commended the federal government and DHQ for the interest shown in the security of the state by promptly sending a high-powered fact-finding team to the state after the weekend terrorist attack on Government Secondary School (GSS), Mamudo.

He said Gaidam, while receiving the team in his office in Damaturu on Wednesday, declared that the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed in the state was doing its best in addressing the security challenges.

According to him, the governor remarked that the incident in Mamudo was an unfortunate and painful disaster, and observed that like many other facilities, the school was situated in a forested environment hence the action by the terrorists who exploited the situation to attack the school and the defenceless students.

Olukolade, also said the leader of the DHQ team, Maj-Gen   Obinali Ariahu, had informed the governor that the team was in the state to assess the deployment of the JTF troops as well as their requirements to carry out their task in forestalling any breach of security in the state.

Despite the visit by the fact-finding team from DHQ, the state government yesterday revealed that it would soon map out a plan to make schools in the state impregnable to terrorist attacks in the future.

Also, the government has ordered the movement of students from the school, which was attacked by suspected terrorists, to a new boarding facility recently built by the present administration.

The state’s Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Mohammed Alamin, said the state’s governor would soon set up a committee to look at the secondary school sector and propose ways to better protect staff and students and improve the teaching and learning environment.

Alamin said the state government was equipping 17 new boarding schools that had been recently completed and that the committee would look at how to merge smaller secondary schools, including that of Mamudo, and move them to some of the newly built boarding facilities.

“GSS Mamudo is one of many built by previous administrations but not equipped to the right standards. We are now devoting large amounts of resources to fence some of these schools and provide them with the needed facilities.

“We have renovated 16 now and work will continue. But we feel it is better to merge some of them and move them to the new boarding schools we have built,” he said.

Alamin added that the state government had already started liaising with security agents and community leaders around the state to provide adequate security for the schools.

“This is why Governor Gaidam ordered the closure of all schools until the new academic session in September. We will work within this period so that when schools resume, we will have a conducive, secure environment for all our students and their teachers,” the commissioner said.