MURIC Demands Probe Of Boko Haram Attack On Metele

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    MURIC Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola

    By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja

     

    Boko Haram terrorists on Monday, 19th November, 2018, overran the 157
    Task Force Battalion at Metele Village in Guzamala Local Government
    Area of Borno State. About seventy Nigerian soldiers allegedly lost
    their lives during the encounter. The high death toll has already
    caught the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari who summoned top
    brass in the Nigerian military command to review the situation..

    Reacting to the high death toll on the soldiers’ side, the Muslim
    Rights Concern (MURIC) expressed consternation, dismay and shock.
    MURIC’s reaction was contained in a press statement released on
    Monday, 26th November, 2018. The statement was signed by the group’s
    director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

    “This is audacious, benumbing and preposterous. We are nonplussed.
    This is a national tragedy of no little proportion. We join millions
    of other patriotic Nigerians to mourn these fallen heroes. Our hearts
    go to those gallant soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for their
    country in active service. We ask Nigerians to pray for them and their
    families. We also implore our religious leaders to organize special
    prayers for total victory over the insurgents.

    “But we must not spend all the time on our mats and knees praying. We
    must, in the spirit of ora et labora, work more and pray less because
    it is our handiwork that Allah will crown with glory. Allah himself
    confirmed this position when He said, ‘Tell them to work and Allah
    will see (i.e. He will reward you for) your work…’ (Glorious Qur’an
    9:105).

    “The question that arises here is how much work did we do? How well
    did we prepare for the insurgents? There are allegations that neglect
    and sabotage caused the Metele fiasco. Soldiers in that axis
    reportedly complained of poor weaponry but nothing was done about it.

    “We are therefore demanding a probe of events which led to the
    overrunning of Metele and the merciless killing of Nigerian soldiers
    by Boko Haram insurgents.

    “MURIC recalls a similar situation in 2014 when 54 Nigerian soldiers
    complained to their commander that their weapons were too poor to
    confront better equipped Boko Haram fighters. They had earlier lost 23
    men and four officers due to poor equipment when they advanced on
    Damboa on 9th July, 2014. This made them to demand better supplies but
    they were rounded up instead. They were consequently tried and
    sentenced to death but this was later commuted to ten years
    imprisonment. They are still in jail as we speak.

    “What kind of people are we? Why must those who work for us suffer
    unnecessary hardship on account of the services they render? Why must
    soldiers who are defending our territorial integrity be punished
    unjustly? Those 54 soldiers would have been slaughtered like rams in
    2014 if they had not raised objection and refused an illegal order.
    Their refusal to march on insurgents with bare hands created the
    awareness of the existence of massive fraud in the army. Why must they
    still be in jail today? MURIC therefore calls for presidential pardon
    for the 54 soldiers. They should be treated as whistle-blowers and
    heroes for exposing graft”.

    MURIC also descended on Western powers for delaying the supply of
    sophisticated weapons to Nigeria and for playing tortuous politics
    with the issue. “We are bemused that strange conditionalities are
    pushed forward each time the issue of supplying better weapons to
    Nigeria in its fight against terrorism is raised before Western
    countries. They raise baseless issues of human rights and tie remote
    incidents to the supply. Those countries are not behaving like friends
    at all.

    “But what moral right do we have to blame outsiders when Nigerian
    lawmakers are the country’s worst enemies? They have never displayed
    any unity of purpose when the presidency requests funds to purchase
    sophisticated weapons. We recall the National Assembly’s strong
    objection and procrastination when President Muhammadu Buhari asked
    for $1 billion for more arms in February 2018. It is paradoxical that
    the same unpatriotic elements are now blaming the presidency for the
    Metele tragedy.

    “We urge Nigerians to open their eyes. We must never surrender the
    national mandate to shenanigans, egocentric and unpatriotic
    politicians in 2019. Never again, never again must we allow those who
    supervised the debilitation and emaciation of Nigerian troops to
    occupy the seat of power. They diverted huge amounts of money meant
    for arms for our soldiers to the extent that our soldiers started
    running each time they saw Boko Haram fighters. It is a shame that
    some of the drammatis personae can still blame the current
    administration for what happened at Metele. It is also a manifestation
    of gross insensitivity for anyone to politicize the disaster.

    “This is food for thought for the Nigerian civil society. We are
    particularly miffed by the silence of powerful groups like the
    Nigerian Labour Congress on the moral debauchery, open blackmail and
    daylight robbery of our common patrimony going on in the NASS. The
    latter armtwisted the executive in virtually every aspect of
    administration yet nobody spoke out. Revelations were made about their
    illegal and atrocious salaries and unlawful emoluments. Nobody did as
    much as whisper.

    “NASS delayed the 2018 budget for seven months and nobody did as much
    as whimper. The same NASS cut allocations to vital areas in the budget
    and added the deductions to its own in brazen exploitation and
    legislative rascality. Yet the same NLC ignored this and went on
    strike to put additional pressure on an overstressed administration.
    Silence is not golden in moments like these.

    “Nonetheless, Metele or no Metele, we assert clearly, emphatically and
    unequivocally that Boko Haram remains technically defeated. A group of
    terrorists who once occupied 17 local governments, terrorized three
    North Eastern states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) and extended its
    tentacle of bombing terror to Kano and Abuja has been reduced to a
    shadow of itself. It is now restricted to acts of cowardice, hiding
    behind little girls who play the role of suicide bombers, engaging in
    seasonal guerilla warfare and disguising as friendly soldiers to gain
    access into the camps of gallant Nigerian soldiers”.

    MURIC also sent a strong message to Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko
    Haram in the North East.

    “To our gallant soldiers, both officers and other ranks, we salute you
    all. You have done well and many of you deserve medals. We are proud
    of you. We know all about your sacrifices for the sake of our dear
    country. You are on sentry all night so that we can sleep peacefully.
    You face hardship so that Nigeria may remain one indivisible entity.
    Boko Haram would have taken Abuja but for your gallantry.

    “You are our heroes. We are with you in your advance on the enemy. We
    assure you that you are not alone. We share your pains. Your victories
    gladden our hearts. We are with you in the trenches. Come rain, come
    shine, we will never abandon you. We are on our prayer mats in the
    mosques and on our knees in the churches as you battle the enemy. We
    charge you to forge forward. To flush out Boko Haram is a task that
    must be done.

    “As we round off, we charge the Federal Government to quickly
    institute a probe of the Metele fiasco. We plead for presidential
    prerogative of mercy for the 54 soldiers. We call on Nigerians to
    treat those responsible for diverting arms money to their personal
    pockets like political lepers in 2019. They should not touch them with
    a long pole”.

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