Boko Haram: ‘Military won’t shield errant officers, men’

The Acting  Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. John Agim has  said that Boko Haram insurgents  do not control any local government area in the North-East.

He also said the military is doing its best to curtail Boko Haram despite the huge cache of arms and ammunitions at the disposal of the insurgents.

He admitted that the insurgents had taken porous borders and free movement treaty to recruit members.

He said the proliferation of the arms from Libya and Mali has caused a lot of problems for Nigeria.

On alleged abuse by some troops, he said the military would not shield errant officers and men.

Agim made the clarifications at a session with reporters in Abuja.

He said: “Currently there is no local government under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East. Concerning alleged collection of taxes in some of the areas where their cells are located, I think they resort to desperate means to survive as they move from one area or the other to hide from troops.

“But Boko Haram is not running government anywhere. They always subject people living within their cells to intimidation and extortion to survive.”

Agim explained that the campaign against the insurgents in Sambisa Forest had been continuous because “the Forest is a vast area, it is 10 times the size of Lagos State.”

He picked holes in a recent report by the Amnesty International on the activities of the military in the North-East and alleged abuses by troops.

He  said the military had its mechanism for disciplining any soldier who misbehaved during an operation.

He said no errant military officers and men will be spared of misbehaviour.

He added: “When there is  an operation going on, the military puts some things in place to check  anybody who misbehaves. For example in the North -East, there is a standing court martial that is trying anybody  (officer or soldier) who misbehaves.

“There is no way we have a military such as ours and you will not see one person misbehaving.

“While I was in Maiduguri, I saw  some of the cases that had been decided by court martial there.  A  soldier who shot and killed five rescued civilians without any just cause was tried and sentenced to death. If anybody does anything that is against the law, report that person.”

Agim said the porous nature of Nigerian borders and free movement treaty had made it possible for Boko Haram to recruit members from many countries.

He said: “We have those people that come into the country. The Immigration complained of the porous borders and all that. People come in and go out and our country is something different.

“When people are here, nobody even cares to check anybody. In Nigeria, people will do things they want to do freely in our country and nobody checks them, nobody says anything.

“Go to Chad and Niger, there is somebody who monitors you and you will know that you are being monitored. Only here, nobody talks to you. You are free to do anything you need to do, may be because of the size of the country or something.

“The porous borders are actually causing a lot of problems. And the proliferation of the arms from Libya and Mali has caused a lot of problems.

“It surprises us that the kind of weapons these people are having. That is something that should worry all of us. They don’t run short of arms. They don’t have problem of arms.

Agim urged Nigerian media to deny Boko Haram publicity which he said was the fuel the insurgents needed to perpetrate  terrorism.

“The only way you can check them is to reduce the way you  talk about their activities,”, he said

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