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Nigerians And Cross-border Attacks

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Last week, suspected members of a Cameroonian separatist group, known as Ambazonia rebels, killed at least 11 persons in an attack on Manga community in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State. One of those killed was the king of the community.

Local authorities say many residents of the area, as many as 20, mostly women and children, remain missing after the attack and are feared to have been kidnapped.

According to reports, the raid bore the marks of a well-coordinated operation as the gunmen arrived at the community at about 5:30am in speedboats with sophisticated weapons, shooting at residents on sight and burning down buildings.

Residents said the deadly attack was not the first by the rebels in the area. According to them, the separatist rebels had been terrorising residents, destroying farm produce and stopping peasants from cultivating their farmlands.  They likened their activities to those of Boko Haram, only that this time they are Cameroonians just as they lament that the people of the community are now living in palpable fear of bloody attacks.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, who represents Taraba South in the National Assembly, said the separatists’ invasion threatened Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty as their motive is yet unknown. He, therefore, called on the military to immediately swing into action to prevent the eventual occupation of Manga community by the separatists. Takum local government hosts a military base, 23 Battalion of the Nigerian Army. For now, there is no confirmed reason for the attack on Nigerians on Nigerian territory.

Leader of the separatists, Julius Ayuk Tabe, however, denied that the attack came from the group, saying it was the Cameroonian government forces that carried out the raids to draw Nigeria into the battle. That requires investigation to ascertain how the government should react.

It is well documented that Cameroonian gendarmes had always crossed Nigerian territory in Boki in Cross River State to attack villagers for one reason or the other, including in their pursuit of the rebels, often leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.

They, however, said the Nigerian government had deployed security forces in the community and added that this had restored some trust. The Manga community that bore this attack borders a lake that it shares with Cameroon, which the armed group is using as a launchpad for the attacks.

The Ambazonian rebel group is fighting for the creation of a separate country from Cameroon. In October 2017, the secessionist group declared the independence of the so-called Anglophone state of Ambazonia. Ambazonia is located in the west of Cameroon and south-east of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea.

The government of Cameroon has declared war on the separatists and sent its army into the English-speaking region. On its part, the militant group has been waging a guerrilla war against Cameroonian security forces.

As a newspaper, it is important to point out that those who launched these attacks are emboldened by Nigeria’s porous borders because they believe they can get away with it.  Apart from that frontier, other cross-border attacks have been recorded on Nigeria’s borders with other neighbouring countries.

It is a measure of how low we have descended in the estimation of our neighbours due to the country’s own challenge posed by extremist Islamists for over 10 years now. That has emboldened this Cameroonian group – whether troops or separatists, to dare to launch raids into Nigeria to kill her citizens, burn their houses and farms and carry off our women and girls.

Nigeria has to take this matter seriously. What determines the kind of regard and respect a country gets in the comity of nations is how well it protects its border or responds to border encroachment from any quarters. Any attack on any community or individual by a foreign force is an attack on the whole nation and should be treated as such. We may have our internal matters to deal with, but let no foreigner treat us with levity. No country will take that.

Nigeria must engage Cameroon to ascertain its role in the whole saga. If it is found that its troops were not involved, then Nigeria should formulate a ruthless response to the separatists using everything in its arsenal to make it clear that such attacks cannot be tolerated. The perpetrators must be handed over to answer for their crimes.

It is true that Nigerians have not heard anything from the presidency or from the commander in chief himself. We want to believe he is taking strong diplomatic actions behind the scenes but his compatriots need to see action to assure them that they are protected from external aggression.

A special military force to deal with Nigeria’s border issues on that axis should also be formed. Such a force should have air, sea and ground capacity to repel any cross- border raids on Nigerians. Ultimately, Nigeria must do something fast about its porous borders. The country cannot know peace until it does so. Surveillance technology can help in the short term.

Last week, suspected members of a Cameroonian separatist group, known as Ambazonia rebels, killed at least 11 persons in an attack on Manga community in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State. One of those killed was the king of the community.

Local authorities say many residents of the area, as many as 20, mostly women and children, remain missing after the attack and are feared to have been kidnapped.

According to reports, the raid bore the marks of a well-coordinated operation as the gunmen arrived at the community at about 5:30am in speedboats with sophisticated weapons, shooting at residents on sight and burning down buildings.

Residents said the deadly attack was not the first by the rebels in the area. According to them, the separatist rebels had been terrorising residents, destroying farm produce and stopping peasants from cultivating their farmlands.  They likened their activities to those of Boko Haram, only that this time they are Cameroonians just as they lament that the people of the community are now living in palpable fear of bloody attacks.

They, however, said the Nigerian government had deployed security forces in the community and added that this had restored some trust. The Manga community that bore this attack borders a lake that it shares with Cameroon, which the armed group is using as a launchpad for the attacks.

The Ambazonian rebel group is fighting for the creation of a separate country from Cameroon. In October 2017, the secessionist group declared the independence of the so-called Anglophone state of Ambazonia. Ambazonia is located in the west of Cameroon and south-east of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea.

The government of Cameroon has declared war on the separatists and sent its army into the English-speaking region. On its part, the militant group has been waging a guerrilla war against Cameroonian security forces.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, who represents Taraba South in the National Assembly, said the separatists’ invasion threatened Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty as their motive is yet unknown. He, therefore, called on the military to immediately swing into action to prevent the eventual occupation of Manga community by the separatists. Takum local government hosts a military base, 23 Battalion of the Nigerian Army. For now, there is no confirmed reason for the attack on Nigerians on Nigerian territory.

Leader of the separatists, Julius Ayuk Tabe, however, denied that the attack came from the group, saying it was the Cameroonian government forces that carried out the raids to draw Nigeria into the battle. That requires investigation to ascertain how the government should react.

It is well documented that Cameroonian gendarmes had always crossed Nigerian territory in Boki in Cross River State to attack villagers for one reason or the other, including in their pursuit of the rebels, often leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.

As a newspaper, it is important to point out that those who launched these attacks are emboldened by Nigeria’s porous borders because they believe they can get away with it.  Apart from that frontier, other cross-border attacks have been recorded on Nigeria’s borders with other neighbouring countries.

It is a measure of how low we have descended in the estimation of our neighbours due to the country’s own challenge posed by extremist Islamists for over 10 years now. That has emboldened this Cameroonian group – whether troops or separatists, to dare to launch raids into Nigeria to kill her citizens, burn their houses and farms and carry off our women and girls.

Nigeria has to take this matter seriously. What determines the kind of regard and respect a country gets in the comity of nations is how well it protects its border or responds to border encroachment from any quarters. Any attack on any community or individual by a foreign force is an attack on the whole nation and should be treated as such. We may have our internal matters to deal with, but let no foreigner treat us with levity. No country will take that.

Nigeria must engage Cameroon to ascertain its role in the whole saga. If it is found that its troops were not involved, then Nigeria should formulate a ruthless response to the separatists using everything in its arsenal to make it clear that such attacks cannot be tolerated. The perpetrators must be handed over to answer for their crimes.

It is true that Nigerians have not heard anything from the presidency or from the commander in chief himself. We want to believe he is taking strong diplomatic actions behind the scenes but his compatriots need to see action to assure them that they are protected from external aggression.

A special military force to deal with Nigeria’s border issues on that axis should also be formed. Such a force should have air, sea and ground capacity to repel any cross- border raids on Nigerians. Ultimately, Nigeria must do something fast about its porous borders. The country cannot know peace until it does so. Surveillance technology can help in the short term.

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