Few weeks back, Nigerians were greeted with the story that Sambisa forests- the notorious enclaves of the armed Islamists of Boko Haram have been leveled down and that the rebel fighters responsible for some 30,000 killings have escaped.
Incredibly, President Muhammadu Buhari was shown in the media joyfully receiving what was referred to as the Islamic State flag of the terror-mastermind with ‘nine lives’ Abubakar Shekau.
A copy of the Hadiths was reportedly also recovered and handed over to President Buhari just as the copy was said to be the personnel copy of the terrorist-in-chief, Abubakar Shekau.
Whilst Nigerians debated the relevance or otherwise of this symbolic flag handing over ceremony in Aso Rock between the Commander-in –Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Chief of Army Staff, the Boko Haram kingpin surreptitiously released a video recording on the internet where upon he rubbished the claims of the military to have displaced them from their stronghold.
Abubakar Shekau also promised more devastating bombing campaign.
The Nigerian authority dismissed the video recording of Abubakar Shekau as propaganda but Boko Haram terrorists have since then sent out over half a dozen suicide bombers to three key North East States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
There have been increased spikes in attacks targeting military institutions with over 16 bodies of soldiers and a senior military Officer reportedly recovered in the Gashigar area of Borno state. Scores of armed terrorists were also gunned down.
The explosions in Adamawa which claimed several lives were blamed on Boko Haram terrorists who reportedly invaded Madagali local government from that wing of Sambisa forests. Which Sambisa forests, one may ask?
The Madagali Council Chairman answered by saying that the bombers emerged from Sambisa forests which are the same enclaves from which the terrorists were said to have been displaced.
To be very fair to the Army, considerable damage has been unleashed on the so-called ‘camp zero’ inside Sambisa forests.
At least Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai didn’t mince words in revealing to Daily Trust about the extensive damages the Army inflicted on the armed terrorists.
But there are lingering doubts on the logic behind the declaration of victory made by politicians in Abuja based on the recent verifiable exploits of the soldiers.
Whereas President Buhari was reported as claiming that Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated following the exploits of the Nigerian Military in the Sambisa forests, the dare-devil attacks of these terrorists since after their reported defeat may have compelled a rethink in a very fundamental way within the Presidency.
Only few days back, the media again reported what looked like a recantation of the victory song by President Buhari who was said to have agreed that the final onslaught against the terrorists can only be achieved when the Chibok girls are all recovered.
Recently, one of the abducted girls sauntered into a military facility in the North East with her six month old baby.
The Civil campaigners known as Bring Back Our girls have reportedly accused the Nigerian government of abandoning the search for the remaining dozens of School girls kidnapped over a thousand days by the armed terror gang of Boko haram from their school in Chibok village in Southern Borno State.
That rebuke earned them an invitation to hop into a military aircraft for an adventurous flight around the vast expanse of land known as Sambisa forests. The trip originally planned for Monday January 16 2017 is being worked out.
But something sinister happened in this Monday when the verification flight ride to Sambisa forests by soldiers and Bring back our girls campaigners was planned to take off from Abuja.
On the morning of Monday January 16th 2017, a 7-year old suicide bomber sent by Boko Haram struck at the University of Maiduguri whilst students and lecturers were praying in the mosque.
This latest bomb explosion in the citadel of learning in Maiduguri, Borno State took the life of a University Professor and many other victims.
The students have also raised alarm regarding their safety following what they termed as lack of freedom to exit their hostels.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was seen clearing the debris of this latest bomb explosion just as they were spotted moving out several body bags of suspected causalities.
President Buhari has already condemned the latest round of bomb explosions and named Boko Haram as irreligious people with scant respect for citadel of worship and learning.
A number of issues need to be addressed in our collective national search for an end to these circles of deaths being waged by these terrorists.
First, the military is doing a fantastic job. There is no doubt about that. The military has also suffered enormous casualties of professionally trained soldiers.
Only on January 15th 2017 when the nation marked the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, the three segments of the Armed Forces recalled with shock their losses in terms of precious lives and manpower.
The Nigerian Air Force symbolically narrated that it has spent millions of gallons of the elusive aviation fuel to power their military jets in the last one year in their coordinated bombing attacks against Boko Haram terrorists.
Secondly, the civilian victims of these unwarranted terror campaign is increasing in number just as the number of internally displaced persons has witnessed astronomic rise but sadly, the mismanagement of the fund for the assistance of these victims has denied the people the much needed succor just as the top officials of the current government implicated in the scam have remained untouchable.
The Secretary to the Federal government Mr Babachir Lawal indicted over alleged disappearance of N2 billion of terror victims support fund is still cruising around as a top government officials even as President Buhari is yet to act on the Senate far reaching indictment.
Importantly, there seems to be an unusual interest among the federal government officials to circulate propaganda materials in the media to paint the impression that the war on terror is almost won. This propaganda is a scam.
The absence of honesty in the dissemination of information emanating from the theatre of the Counter terror was is unfortunate.
The heads of information in the Nigerian ministry of information are so much in a hurry to play up partisan politics with serious issue of national security.
If only the minister of information can take little time to read the phenomenal book titled “You have a brain: A teen’s guide to T.H.I.H.K B.I.G” authored by the American Brain Surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, perhaps they could have a rethink.
In the Chapter Fifteen of this beautiful book, the author narrated the essence of honesty even in smaller things and indeed in bigger affairs.
Ben Carson after narrating an encounter he and his sibling had when they stole the candy bars hidden by their aunt who is said to be so generous to a fault called for total respect to the principle of honesty.
He had written thus: “Curtis and I each took one, ate the candy bars, and carefully disposed of the wrappers. I never knew how Aunt Jean found out…”
The long and short of these stories are that when eventually they were found out for stealing these candy bars, they showed a high sense of remorse and there and then decided to be honest in every of their dealings with their aunt and uncle.
Dr. Ben Carson encapsulated their encounters with both their Aunt and Mother thus:
“The implied message being that if we had spent just a little bit of time thinking surely we would have come to a different conclusion and behaved differently.
“While mother wanted us to recognize how our behavior had demonstrated ingratitude towards our Aunt, the primary message about honesty came through loud and clear.”
The above lessons apply to Nigerians in our dealings with the government on these whole issues of counter terror war.
Many atimes, we have been told tales that sounded so unbelievable regarding the exploits of the government in waging the war on terror, but we the people have swallowed these ‘sweet’ pills of falsehood hook, line and sinker, hoping and believing that the government officials will on their own discover the embarrassing lack of value and respect in dishing out lies to the citizenry, but the litany of lies keeps expanding in leaps and bounds.
The continuous bomb explosions by Boko Haram terrorists are clear evidence that the soft tissues of lies from the government isn’t working.
Above all, the government has never been honest with prosecuting the mass murderers known as Boko Haram terrorists but has shown unbelievable penchant in releasing the suspected members of this terror gang.
Sadly, each passing episode of release of these terror suspects has come with reported cases of bomb explosion but the justice ministry of Nigeria has failed till date to begin vigorous prosecution of these terrorists who have killed over 30,000 Nigerians.
What is responsible for the lack of honesty in prosecuting these terrorists is shocking and disappointing to all discerning minds.
Sadly, the Nigeria Army just released another batch of terror suspects only on January 15th 2017 and on the morning of January 16th 2017, a 7-year old suicide bomber was sent to the university of Maiduguri by the terror masterminds and the result is the high number of casualties including the life of a Professor of that citadel of higher learning.
The media report of the release of the latest bunch of boko haram terror suspects says that: “It is being done as part of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, and that the Nigerian Army on Sunday released 257 suspected Boko Haram members who were in detention to the Borno State government.”
“The detainees – comprised of men, women and children – were released to the Borno State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Usman Durkwa, during a ceremony at the Ramat Square in Maiduguri.”
“Handing over the detainees, the head of the military’s counter-insurgency operation in the North East (Operation Lafiya Dole), Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the 257 Boko Haram detainees had been screened and found to be clean.”
He said, “After screening them, we found them clean, but we will ensure that they are monitored even after the release.
“The Army Day celebration has afforded us opportunity to free them to mark the occasion.”
What independent forensic screening certified these suspects free of culpability?
The whole counter terror war will remain a perpetual drama of politics except and unless the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice takes concrete, verifiable and transparent prosecutorial measures to bring the masterminds of the nearly five year old terror campaign to trial.
The International Crimes Courts in The Hague, Netherland should also pay closer attention to this apathy on this current government to prosecute terrorists.
The most honest thing to be done is to invite the United Nations to investigate these whole stories of Boko Haram terrorists so a clearer picture is painted and the characters responsible are brought to account in accordance with our laws or with the international laws.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and can be reached @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.com