By Bode Olushegun
Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum said the military had dimmed the hope of their ability to defeat Boko Haram as they had continued to show they could not secure 20 kilometers radius of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Zulum said on Monday during his assessment visit to Jakana to assess the place where about 35 commuters were abducted by Boko Haram last Friday.
According to him: “So, if the military cannot secure 20 kilometers, how can they keep us with the hope they will defeat Boko Haram?”
The governor expressed disappointment over the inability of the Nigerian military and security agencies to secure 20 kilometres from the state capital on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway despite heavy investment in the ongoing war against Boko Haram.
The governor also expressed serious anger over what has become routine attacks on travelers and villagers by Boko Haram, part of which was Friday’s abduction of about 35 commuters.
The governor said it was disappointing that a majority of the attacks within the last two years, took place between Auno and Jakana, a distance of about 20 kilometers.
He said: “I have had occasions to defend the Nigerian military in order to boost the morale of commanders and their troops at the front lines because I know the true picture of things.
“However, I am really disappointed that despite all support from both the federal government and from us in Borno state, our military is failing to secure an area of 20 kilometers, which is the distance between Auno and Jakana.
“And incidentally, majority of Boko Haram’s attacks along this Maiduguri-Damaturu-Kano road, keeps happening between Auno and Jakana.”
The governor also berated the army and the state government-established Rapid Response Squad which combines well equipped policemen, vigilantes and local hunters, for lack of visibility along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road, which he thought, “makes it feasible for Boko Haram to keep running their show in the same axis and on multiple occasions.”
He said: “With all you (journalists) we drove from Maiduguri to here, Jakana. We did not see soldiers on the road, we did not see even our own Rapid Response Squad on this road and they were trained, employed, kitted and paid to protect all Nigerians within their areas of operation and these Nigerians include travelers plying this busy and important road.”
He recalled that this year alone, the insurgents carried out many attacks along Maiduguri-Damaturu-Kano road, including the one in February, in which over 30 persons including nursing mother and an infant were burnt to death as travelers.
Zulum however assured residents along the road that he was going to immediately hold a security meeting and hopefully come up with more measures to secure the highway, while urging residents to continually support the military by sharing information that would generate credible intelligence on the activities of insurgents.