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Zulum in the Minefield

For the fourth time since getting into public office, Babagana Zulum, professor and governor of Borno State escape the attack of the dreaded Boko Haram, which has not hidden its distaste for the resolve of the governor to develop the state.

He had dared to visit Baga town, one of the settlements that the terrorist group desperately wants to keep, but which residents are dying to return to in abhorrence of the life at the internally displaced persons, IDP camp, where they have had to live for some years now. Zulum cannot believe why a ‘technically defeated’ terrorist group would be feared so much even the military could not guarantee the safety of the people to return home.

Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, informed Nigerians in 2015 that Boko Haram had been technically defeated based on what he saw on ground when he led a team of local and international journalists to the epicentre of insurgency in 2015. Almost five years later, after series of attacks and killings, some of which resulted in the loss of military men and bases to the insurgents, when he paid working visit to new corporate headquarters of The Sun newspapers in Lagos October 2019, he insisted on that point, “I stand by what I said that Boko Haram is technically defeated.”

President Muhammadu Buhari also claimed that his administration’s efforts to curb insecurity in the country have resulted in Boko Haram terrorists being ‘substantially defeated’. “The nation is appreciative of the gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of our Armed Forces in the campaign against insurgency and other internal security operations. This has led to the return of normalcy in affected parts of the nation,” Buhari said at the launch of the 2020-Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem.

Buhari’s claim on the Nigerian military’s ‘defeat’ of Boko Haram insurgents has been a subject of controversy.

Despite president Muhammadu Buhari’s and Lai Mohammed`s claim, Boko Haram terrorists and other insurgency groups have been attacking communities, villages, and military bases in the northeast, killing, displacing and kidnapping Nigerians. This decade-long insurgency has killed more than 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in the northeast and still counting.

On several occasions, armed men attacked villages in Borno State and always arrived in vehicles and motorcycles, shooting with AK-47s and other sophisticated weapons, razing the villages and stealing on the account that they suspected that villagers were giving information on their movement to security authorities. Perhaps to undermine efforts of former governor Kashim Shettima and Zulum to develop the state, Boko Haram operatives continue to destroy both private and public rehabilitated properties. Book Haram detest Zulum for rehabilitating their targets of destruction and for lavishing his love on enemies of terror. And there are many of such patriots with who Zulum shares the dream of a better society. The sad thing is that they too walk the field filled with landmines planted by the enemies.

On Sunday, September 20, 2020, Boko Haram terrorists laid ambush on a patrol team, which Colonel Dahiru Bako led to clear terrorists from Sabon Gari-Wajiroko axis near Damboa, Borno State.

A release signed by Colonel Ado Isa, army spokesman described Bako as one of the gallant and finest war heroes in Nigerian Army. It says, “Under his able leadership, the troops cleared the ambush resulting in the killing of scores of terrorists and recovery of weapons and equipment. Sadly, however, he was wounded in action and immediately evacuated by the Air Task Force Operation LAFIYA DOLE to the 7 Division Hospital at Maimalari Cantonment.”

Sadly enough, the release stated, “The late senior officer was recuperating well after a successful operation at the hospital, in good spirit, and also said his prayers in the early hours of this morning before his sad passing on at the hospital.”

On Tuesday, September 22, his (Bako) remain was interred in Maiduguri, Governor Zulum who gave a sum of N20 million to the family said, “It was public knowledge that I (Zulum) liked late Col. Bako and so did many people. Bako was a true soldier who inspired his troops and led them to frontlines with exceptional courage that was clearly out of pure patriotism. He fought very hard and very well.

“He defeated many enemies of peace and protected many sons and daughters of Borno State to the extent he gave his life while defending the people of Borno”.

In a statement issued and signed by the acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa said the governor had redeemed the pledge of N20 million to the family of late Bako and N2 million each to families of other soldiers killed in the ongoing war against terrorists.

The other beneficiaries are families of late Lance Corporal Nwobuji Desmond, Lance Corporal Adebiyi Oluwaseye and Private Aliyu Ibrahim, who were described “as gallant and patriotic soldiers par excellence.”

Babagana Zulum, professor and governor of Borno State Photo
Babagana Zulum, professor and governor of Borno State
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