The Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkareem Lawan, has faulted claims that Boko Haram no longer holds any local government area in the state.
The speaker was responding to a statement by the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, at the pulling out parade of retired service chiefs that no local government area is under the control of the insurgents.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had in December 2020 during a meeting with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, made the same asertion.
But the Borno speaker said the claim was not fair to the displaced people of Borno, especially his immediate constituency.
Mr Lawan said even as the head of the state legislature he has not been able to visit his local government area for three years because it is being occupied by insurgents.
“I disagree with the claims of the former Chief of Defence Staff during their pulling out ceremony that no territory in Nigeria is under the control of Boko Haram. I say this because my local government is completely under the control of Boko Haram for the past three years.
“As I am speaking to you right now, there is no single civilian that lives in the entire territory that defines my local government area, Guzamala. Sadly, there is also no single military presence or soldier in my local government.
“I have also heard the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the same thing that no single local government area is under the occupation of Boko Haram.
“This gives me worry because I know there are 774 local government areas in Nigeria and my local government Guzamala is one of them. I don’t know if the federal government has reduced the number of local government areas in Nigeria to 773, by saying that no single LGA is under the control of Boko Haram.
“What about my local government, Guzamala, which is a no-go-area for both military and civilians? Are we not part of the Nigerian state? Have we been cut off from the Nigerian geographical space? If that is the case, we need the federal government to tell us in clear terms.
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“For the past one year, the Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, has been visiting all the local government areas and making efforts to return IDPs to their liberated local. government headquarters. But of all the places, Guzamala was never visited because it is a no-go-area.”
The speaker said of all the 10 local government areas that form the Northern Borno senatorial district, “none is completely free of Boko Haram.”
“Most of the IDPs relocated to their communities are only restricted to the local government headquarters because the remote villages and hamlets are still not safe. So how can we even say Boko Haram is not in those locations when only the local government headquarters are relatively secured?”
The speaker commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing new service chiefs.
But he called on the new commanders to see to the total elimination of the insurgents from the nooks and crannies of the state.
“We are happy with the new set of services chiefs especially the CDS and the Chief of Army Staff who were once commanders of the Lafiya Dole Theatre Command here in Borno. We plead with them to deploy more troops to the northern part of Borno where Boko Haram are still occupying my entire local government area.”
During the retired service chiefs pull out ceremony last week, the former CDS said under his leadership, the Nigerian military had seen the reclaiming of the 20 local government that was under the control of the insurgents in 2015.
“We all could recall that at the inception of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Boko Haram terrorist group held sway in parts of north-east Nigeria, where the sect occupied 20 out of 26 local government areas in Borno State,” Olonisakin, who retired as a four-star General, said.
“Our immediate challenge on the assumption of office was to flush out Boko Haram and restore Nigeria’s sovereignty over these occupied territories.
“Gratefully, with the support of political leadership and indeed all Nigerians, the armed forces of Nigeria, under my leadership, was able to reclaim all territories that were then under the control of Boko Haram.”
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