Insecurity: Northern elders berates CSOs for defending service chiefs

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  • Say groups being sponsored to sell ‘a dummy to Nigerians’
  • Say groups’ claim that service chiefs’ removal demoralise Armed Forces is ignorance on 
From Adeniyi Ajayi, Abuja
Northern elders under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD) have berated some civil society organisations (CSOs) opposing its position that service chiefs be immediately replaced following the worsening insecurity in the country.
Recall that the CSOs numbering about 16 in number had last Saturday issued a statement in Lagos, condemning the Northern elders for demanding the sack of the service chiefs following the security situation in the country.
The CSOs had accused the Northern elders of failing to acknowledge the efforts and landmark achievements that have been made by the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency and other forms of banditry across the nation over the past few months.
“Let’s not forget that Boko Haram insurgents are lurking around waiting to strike. If we lowered our guard by acceding to the call of those who want the Service Chiefs removed, it may spell doom,” the group’s spokesman was quoted as saying.
But the Northern elders, while reacting said the groups’ defence of the service chiefs in the face of their glaring incompetence in securing Nigeria was a confirmation that they lacked respect for the lives of citizens who have been killed and those that are at risk of being killed with the increasing and rising wave of insecurity in the Northern states.
In the statement signed on Monday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni, the elders said the CSOs’ claim that removal of service chiefs would demoralise the armed forces was a testament that they know little or nothing about the workings of the military but were only out to promote the course of their paymaster without taking into cognisance the consequence of their action on the citizenry.
The statement tagged: “Re-Sack of Service Chiefs will demoralize nation’s armed forces- CSOs”, the elders said as people not only living in the north but also stakeholders in the region’s peace process, they know nothing compared to them to speak on the issue.
“As stakeholders in the northern peace process and resident of the North, we know what we are saying. Those living in Lagos should please, give us a chance since they know little or nothing about the area they are not familiar with,” the Northern elders said in the statement.
The statement read in part: Our attention has been drawn to a statement in the media and released by some faceless civil society organisations led by one unknown organization which goes by the name Campaign Against Impunity in reaction to our widely published statement earlier on the state of insecurity in the country.
“In the media report, one Mr. Shina Loremikan, who claimed not only to be National Coordinator of the faceless Campaign Against Impunity but also speaking on behalf of the unknown 16 coalitions of civil society organisations, picked hole in our statement which had demanded the immediate sack of the current service chiefs following the worsening security situation in the country.
“In the writeup, the authors and their sponsors obviously were not bold enough to disclose their true identity knowing that what they sold to the nation was an evil and failed attempt to repackage their paymasters for public acceptability following negative perception in many quarters about them occasioned by their glaring incompetence to tackle the nation’s security challenges.
The Lagos-based civil society organisations in the sponsored and warped writeup, described our group as “a fraction of the Northern Elders” just as it claimed that our position that the service chiefs be replaced was an attempt at demoralizing the nation’s armed forces and its leadership.”
The Northern elders said: “For the record, contrary to the position of the sponsored Lagos-based ‘civil society organisations’, the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development which parades Nigerians of reputable standing like Engr. Zana Goni as National Coordinator does not need an introduction. This is why the  attempt by the  organisation’s traducers intended to interest their paymasters will fail.”
“Unfortunately, our group can’t be stigmatized for any reason given its disposition as a promoter of peace in the entire country. So, sentiment and prejudice can’t work against our group. Rather, it belies the reality of what it is and what it stands for,” it noted.
“To the sponsors of the warped write-up, peacemaking does not mean to deny facts nor overlook the reality of prolonged insecurity in the country in the face of increasing injection of several billions of naira into the security by the federal government. Do they want us to be applauding them in the face of failure to arrest the increasing and the rising wave of terrorism, insurgency, banditry, and killings across the nation? Is anyone in doubt about the current state of insecurity in the country? It asked.
The statement said: “Taking our group for vilification and popularity seeking cannot serve any good purpose nor will altering the facts and covering the truth about the pervasive insecurity that has become the order of the day in Nigeria today make meaningful sense.”
The statement further read: “The writeup had quoted the Lagos based groups as expressing dismay over our position, claiming we failed “to acknowledge the efforts and landmark achievements that have been made by the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency, and other forms of banditry across the nation over the past few months.”
“Let’s not forget that Boko Haram insurgents are lurking around waiting to strike. If we lowered our guard by acceding to the call of those who want the Service Chiefs removed, it may spell doom,” the group’s spokesman was quoted as saying in their desperate attempt to repackage their sponsors.
“But we challenge the so-called Mr. Shina Loremikan, to come to an open debate if indeed he has respect for the lives of citizens that are at risk of being killed with the increasing and rising wave of insecurity in the Northern states.
“If the Shina Loremikan’s led Campain Against Impunity doesn’t know, the Northern Elders for Peace and Development which has been following developments across the country would like to inform him that recently, over 200 experienced soldiers were reported to have resigned. The Nigerian Army would later debunk it, but investigative efforts by some media put paid to the position of the military authorities.
“Besides the recent news of the resignation of over 200 soldiers, there were periods our media were pervaded with the videos in which some Nigerian soldiers were cursing and blasting Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, for not supplying them the needed weapons and ammunition to combat the Boko Haram terrorists. Most of these videos were made in the theatre of operations.
“The soldiers who made the videos would later bite their fingers as they were dealt with. General Olusegun Adeniyi would never forget what befell him a few days after he appeared in a viral video where he asked the Nigerian Army to empower his team with the necessary weapons he mentioned. Another soldier that was dealt with was Lance Corporal Martins who indicted and cussed Buratai in a viral video. They’re not getting what they need and they mustn’t complain. However, if these service chiefs are not supplanted in these critical times as our representatives in the National Assembly proposed, there is no way we can win the war against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups.
“To maintain their positions, the service chiefs have not been telling the president the true state of affairs in the North East. The fact the sitting governor of Borno State has been attacked for the third consecutive time in less than three months by Boko Haram elements despite watering the presence of troops in the state should be enough grounds to change guard. The fact that many displaced residents can’t return yet to their original homes in spite of the intimidating presence of troops tells a lot about the security in the North East. Does the Campaign Against Impunity know that ten local government areas of Borno State are still unaccessible by the government? Apart from being from the North, we reside in the North and know every security situation in the North. We are not speaking from Lagos which has no Boko Haram presence but the North which is adorned with a heavy presence of terrorists.
“We are no doubt speaking from an informed perspective and not otherwise.
“That insecurity pervades the North thus preventing people from undergoing routine duties is not enough for an alarm to be sounded? Not to talk of further threats against the safety of those still alive.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari’s reasons for keeping the service chiefs whom he was supposed to have replaced due to overdue tenure, were because they were doing well in the fight against terrorism, neither the Senate nor Nigerians would be asking him to sack them.
“The service chiefs no doubt, are underperforming. Civilians and soldiers are being killed every day by men of the underworld (Boko Haram), and other deviant sects. There are no sanctuaries in the country again.
“Churches, schools, and mosques are not as safe as they are being invaded by terrorists. Some Nigerians in the North are seen fleeing to neighbouring countries to seek refuge. Soldiers who are supposed to be at the war front are tugging their khakis and resigning over lack of motivation from the service chiefs. There are limited weapons and platforms for them to use
“So to brand the position of Northern elders as inconsequential is unfortunate and satanic. So the worsening insecurity in the country is not a problem but raising alarm against it is the problem?  What does Mr. Shina Loremikan intend to achieve?
” Is it a crime for Northern elders to express their concerns on the state of insecurity and bring to the attention of the nation what their constituents are passing through and profer solutions on how it can be overcome?
“Is Mr. Loremakan and his groups not aware that calls have even been made by some people including legislators and Borno State governor appealing for the government of Niger Republic to send troops to help secure communities in Nigeria?
” Is he unaware also that Governor Zulum of Borno state has asked the Federal government to formally request the assistance of Chad Republic to help in the fight against insurgency in the North East? If the military chiefs were performing as claimed by Mr. Loremakan, would these requests be made?
“The Campaign Against Impunity, if at all is genuine as claimed by Mr. Loremakan, is attempting to achieve and attract attention to by itself.
“This is simply a ploy to curry favour and attract patronage which is typical of flaunting the so-called civil society groups of his like even when it is at expense of the safety and well-being of the people. Sad!
“Nigeria is no longer a place where deceit, falsehood, and mischief thrives, nor are the people any longer receptive of persons that trivialize issues of life and death as is the case with the so-called Mr. Loremakan.
“People all over the North and indeed the entire country are tired of the killings, the Northern Elders for Peace and development is not an exception.
“We wish to emphatically tell Mr. Loremakan that sentiment are over as the issue is now everybody’s issue.
“The rich are also crying! We must all be genuinely involved in the peace process knowing that insecurity anywhere in the North is a threat to all of us.
“Anyone attempting to twist or mischievously misrepresent his remarks for political patronage or mileage is on a futile goose chase.
“As stakeholders in the northern peace process and resident of the North, we know what we are saying. Those living in Lagos should please, give us a chance since they know little or nothing about the area they are not familiar with.”

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