The Inspector General of Police (IGP) recently called for the screening of vigilantes who are supplementing efforts of the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
This is a shocking development because the civilian forces comprising of hunters, vigilantes and Civilian-JTF members had begun to bring hope to the nation with their reported victories against the enemy. Armed civilian forces of Rabih Azzubair Ibn Fadlallah have been reported to have liberated Maiha and Mubi in Adamawa State. They allegedly captured the ‘Emir’ installed by Boko Haram.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) received news about the invitation for screening with a pinch of salt, particularly with the alleged arrest of two key vigilante leaders, Sarkin Baka Adamawa, who led Ibn Fadlallah vigilante civilian forces to liberate territories captured by Boko Haram insurgents.
Ironically, Boko Haram fighters reportedly burned the house of the same Sarkin Baka in retaliation for wreaking havoc on their men. Is this the way to compensate a hero and great patriot? The second person allegedly arrested is the founder of Civilian JTF, Col Sagir Musa.
We are at a loss regarding what might have informed the call for screening and these two arrests at this crucial time. Are we fighting the people or we are fighting insurgents? It is not only interesting but disturbing to note that whereas the local vigilantes were able to liberate Mubi and Maiha from the stranglehold of the insurgents, the so called screening gave Boko Haram the opportunity to capture Gombi, Hong and advance on Song en route Yola, the state capital.
While we appreciate the fact that some kind of discipline must be established in the operations of the vigilantes, we affirm that the period of Boko Haram advancement is not the best time to embark upon such an assignment. The enemy must be confronted and halted before we start talking about discipline.
Is it not an irony that the IGP holds the hands of those who confront terrorists after soldiers reportedly flee? Does this action not raise eyebrows? Does it not raise more questions than answers? Why can’t we first deal with the wolf and return later to ask the hen relevant questions? It is our considered opinion that unless there is more to this than meets the eyes, the IGP is putting the cart before the horse.
This has ignited lack of confidence in the tactics being employed by the Nigerian authorities, leading to calls from certain quarters for civilians in the North East to defend themselves. It is a very dangerous development.
Equally curious is the initial seizure of all sorts of weapons from indigenes of the troubled North East by soldiers (bows, arrows, cutlasses and knives) thus rendering them completely helpless during Boko Haram raids and the hundreds of soldiers who escorted former Governor Modu Sheriff while returning to Borno a few days ago.
MURIC calls for the immediate release of Sarkin Baka Adamawa and Colonel Saghir and the creation of a conducive atmosphere for the civilian JTF and vigilante groups to continue playing their complementary role in the war against insurgency. More importantly, the Nigerian military must urgently find ways of boosting the morale of our gallant soldiers and supply them with state of the art weaponry.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
E-mail: [email protected]
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