Leading civil Rights Advocacy group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said the Nigerian Army is misplacing her priority by confronting and killing unarmed members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and then letting Fulani terrorists in the North West, and elements of the Boko Haram terrorists to continuously launch deadly attacks in the North West, Niger State of Nigeria, Adamawa in the North East and Kogi State.
HURIWA also accuses President Muhammadu Buhari of selective justice by spending taxpayers funds to rehabilitate abd deradicalise hardened boko haram terrorists responsible for the killings of over 30,000 citizens including women and children but the Commander-in-Chief permits the killings of totally unarmed members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra in the South East of Nigeria.
HURIWA wondered why the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya is fixated about a bunch of boys under the auspices of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and constantly dishing out warnings to deal with Igbo youths whereas Fulani terrorists are allowed to go on rampage in parts of Northern Nigeria killing, maiming and destroying lives and properties including the kidnapping and killings of pastors and students in Kaduna and Kogi State.
HURIWA is challenging the Army Chief to launch a successful rescue mission to bring out some Northern female students abducted by North West terrorists since the last eight months.
“It is a crying shame that Nigeria has a functional Army that falsely prides itself as the biggest army in Africa but rag tag terrorists and Islamic rebels are allowed to kill at will. Where are the over 30 Fulani terrorists declared wanted by the Defence Headquarters and why are these terrorists being allowed to continue to expand their frontiers of attacks on soft targets including school girls whom they routinely raid their dormitories to kidnap?
HURIWA reca that eight months after the abduction of 80 students from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, in Kebbi State, more than 10 of them are still in captivity despite payment of ransom and prisoner swap, at different times.
The Rights group quoting deoendable media sources also reliably gathered that no fewer than 13 of the female students were married off to bandits with some of them already pregnant. Bandits loyal to a kingpin, Dogo Gide, ransacked the school on June 17, last year, and left with dozens of students and five teachers of the federal government-owned mixed boarding school. HURIWA reliably gathered that between 11 and 14 of the students are still being held by Gide with only one of them a male.
Also, one more student of Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna is still being held by his abductors, over seven months after he and scores of his schoolmates were rounded off at night by attackers who killed two security personnel on guard duty.
HURIWA recalls that at least 10 schools abductions were recorded last year as bandits’ gangs targeted schools in Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Kebbi states.
The abductions followed the first of such attacks by bandits in December 2020 when a gang led by one Auwal Daudawa attacked Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State, and abducted over 200 students.
HURIWA stated that the FGC Yauri attack, which occurred less than 20 days after the mass abduction of pupils from Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, Niger State, caused a stir and raised concerns among stakeholders about the safety of students, especially in schools around areas affected by security challenges.
Immediately after the abduction, HURIWA learnt that a few of the victims were retrieved by security forces while others were released by the bandits as part of negotiation talks.
Dozens of the abductees were subsequently released in two batches to negotiators in October and January.
Gide, who is believed to be the bandit closest to jihadi groups due to his long association with the Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Bilad as-Sudan, better known as Ansaru, had in a telephone conversation threatened to convert the students by training the males on gun-handling and marrying off the females.
The terrorist group, Boko Haram, had meted out similar treatment to captors, notably the Chibok girls abducted in 2014.
Persons familiar with efforts to secure the release of the victims told Daily Trust that the bandits’ kingpin had made good his pledge as he married off at least 13 of the students.
The girls were said to be given out to bandits and a few interested persons living in villages around areas controlled by Gide, along the boundary between Niger and Zamfara states.
The bandits’ kingpin is holding on two the students despite receiving huge amounts in ransom and two of his men freed as part of negotiations in October, as reported by Daily Trust at the time.
Speaking during the national campaign on out-of-school children in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital in late January, the then Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, confirmed that 14 of the students were still in captivity.
Also, the Special Adviser on Security to Kebbi State Governor, Garba Rabiu Kamba, told the media by phone recently that there were 14 students yet to be released by the bandits.
But a source who had participated in past talks to release the students said that three more schoolgirls were released to their parents in mid-January, with all of them coming back pregnant. “Eleven are there now; 10 girls who are married and one boy. The three he released to their parents in January came back pregnant,” said the source who craved for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
HURIWA reminded the Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya that a 12-year-old JSS 1 student of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna State, who was kidnapped on July 2, 2021 along with dozens of others, has remained in captivity, Daily Trust gathered.
The student (names withheld) is the only one left after the bandits released his schoolmates in batches following a series of negotiations. The latest release was on January 2 when two out of the three students were released to the detriment of negotiators and family members who expected release of all the three remaining captives.
HURIWA therefore expressed strong reservations that whereas the well armed and sophisticated terrorists of Fulani ethnicity are successfully taken in several hostages in many States, the Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, on Monday, issued a stern warning to violent groups across the country to desist from threatening the sovereignty of the nation, because the army would do everything within its power to contain all forms of threats against Nigeria.
Yahaya, who gave the warning in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference 2023, also hinted that operations against saboteurs had raised oil production to 1.3 million barrels per day.
Lt.Gen. Yahaya said Monday that, the peaceful conduct of the general election across the country, including in the South-east despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region was a testament to Nigerian Army’s resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.
Yahaya noted that this was made possible through successful conduct of Operation Safe Conduct 2023 across the nation, which saw the Nigerian Army along with other services and agencies ensuring successful general elections.
His words: “Our additional efforts through Joint Task Force Operation Udoka paid off in the South-east thus ensuring successful elections in the region as well, even though, long before the actual elections, IPOB/ESN and their supporters had threatened that there would be no elections in the zone.
“Elections were, therefore, held in the South-east and successfully too, just like other parts of the country. Generally, our operations and decisive actions against the criminal elements have impacted positively on the security situation in the region, giving confidence to law abiding citizens in the South-east.”
Yahaya explained that the army’s “continuous injection of specially trained troops and special equipment through Operations Lake Sanity and Desert Sanity to complement efforts by Operation Hadin Kai, has been rewarding. The insurgents and terrorists no longer have freedom of action and that has amongst other benefits resulted in massive surrender by the unauthorised on this sheet violates the adversaries.
“These efforts expectedly have enhanced troops’ poise and greatly improved the security situation and public confidence in the North-east. It is on record that last year (2022), Nigeria attained its best record against terrorism since 2011. Put differently, in the past 11 years, from 2011 to date, Nigeria recorded its highest rating against terrorism last year, 2022”.
The army chief, however, commended officers and personnel for the achievements recorded so far.
He said, “This is indeed a commendable effort and achievement by all of you, the other sister services, stakeholders and indeed our able predecessors. Though impressive are these efforts, but we are not relenting. Rather, we are even channeling more efforts towards consolidating on these successes in order to completely neutralise insurgents that fail to surrender.”
Yahaya reassured Nigerians that the Nigerian Army would not relent in its our efforts at safeguarding the nation’s commonwealth, rather, “We are now even more resolute to sustain the ongoing efforts to ensure maximum revenue accrues to government coffers from oil explorations in the South South region,” he said.
The Rights group reminded the Army chief of staff that the Kaduna State Government has confirmed the abduction of 10 students from Government Day Secondary School in Awon, Kachia Local Government Area of the state.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the students were abducted on Monday.
HURIWA is therefore urging the Chief of Army Staff to pay more attention and focus on eradicating boko haram terrorists, Fulani terrorists in the North West and rescue school children kidnapped by terrorists rather getting unnecessarily fixated with Igbo youths who are completely unarmed.