Home Feature Army is committed to wiping out the insurgents – Col. Usman

Army is committed to wiping out the insurgents – Col. Usman

The Nigerian Army is committed to ensuring that the era of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East region of the counry is brought to an end, despite the initial setback it suffered in the fight against the insurgents.
Acting Director of Information and Public Relations, Nigerian Army, Col. Sani Usman stated this in an interview in Lagos recently.
He had told the editorial leadership of Champion Newspapers led by its Managing Director, Dr. (Mrs) Nwadiuto Iheakanwa, Managing Editor, Luke Okoro, Correspondent John Silas and Photo Editor, Mike Iroanya that the Army will not be distracted by the elite cynicism which greeted its initial efforts at checkmating the activities of the insurgents.
He expressed surprise at such criticisms from the political class when, in actual fact, the officers and men of the Army are staking their lives for the good of their fatherland.
The Army Information Chief who spoke on the Army-civilian relationships, the essence of discipline in the Army, his thrust to transform army public relations to a corporate affairs department in line with global trends and the plea for clemency for those convicted of mutiny by the Army, also argued that the civilian population should learn to appreciate the sacrifice being made by the Army to keep Nigeria at peace. Here are the excerpts:
The case for clemency for those who mutinied at the face of Boko Haram insurgency.
Boko Haram couldn’t have gained much ground and prominence without what some of the soldiers did; running away, abandoning location and equipment. The truth is, if for instance, you are fighting me, maybe there could be instances where the enemy overwhelmed me, yes you can withdraw.
There are various types of withdrawal, deliberate, disarray and others. The most dangerous is withdrawal in disarray, you are facing imminent death but that notwithstanding, you are just running for your dear life.
Possibly you might even not be able to carry your weapon that was supposed to be your own personal weapon. You are not supposed to abandon it. You are supposed to hold one or do things not to assist the enemy.
But we have instances where somebody will leave his vehicle, leave the key and run away. Which one runs faster, is it  a vehicle or your leg? And Boko Haram will come, take the vehicle pursue you, kill you and convert it to more destructive weapon to kill others.
So, by your action or inaction, you are contributing to escalation of the conflict but a lot of people fail to understand. And some of them failed to observe basic principles as they were taught to observe whenever you hear gunfire.
But they hardly wait for such things, they will take off. It happened in Gwoza, in Bama and in Baga. If you know the extent of the arms and ammunition Boko Haram were able to cart  away from those places you wouldn’t have been sleeping.
When Shekau went on YouTube to say that he is  going to bring down the country certainly he was right.. For instance, towards September after capturing Damboa and  about capturing Gworza, we moved everything to Bama and whatever you do, of course the enemy also have information.
We were supposed to stay but they ran abandoning the weapons and ended up arming the enemy.  So what do you do to such people? So what do you do with such people? You tell them thank you?
One thing I realise about Nigerian society is that the farther you are away from the theatre of war the less concerned you are. You know, the people there know what we were going through but the more you move out the less concerned people are.
And that is why things are the way they are. You need to go to Maiduguri, to Bama, Potiskum and the rest to understand the magnitude of this problem. You know,  there are certain things that have not been reported. The issues of teenage pregnant, girls and you know, are just to tell you, with little effort, we could have saved the ugly situation. Of very important, I always mention the issue of Kombiba. Kombiba,  it was just a battalion, that place has been attacked more than 13  times, but the soldiers held to their ground.
Call one and he will tell you look, they realised the tactics of the Boko Haram and they stood their grounds and that was what made the recapture of Bama much easier and possible. You take them on,  for instance, the advancing that was supposed to go with this and that.
If it is how to run over an excavator, obstructing movement and we know how to do it. When you know the tactics of the enemy, you know they use to climb trees, mount machine gun, attach fuel to generator, trigger it and fire indiscriminately, they know all these but they would not act on them.
So many information that would assist you, you refused to act because you have the public opinion and would tell all sorts of lies and not knowing actually, that there are people that are feeding the public false information and propaganda.
I can cite for a example, there was a time the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, was interviewing an alleged soldier complaining about poor equipment,  this and that.
And they asked him where he was as at the time of the phone call and he made mention of Gambo. And know, because I was at the war zone that time, that we have captured Gambo on August 4 2014, so how could he be there receiving the call.
You understand, but ordinarily people will believe him. It was the same thing when Boko Haram attacked another place and someone went on air and said there is nothing that everyone should come back; it was an attempt by one of their propagandists for the people to come back for more attacks.
I hate even to ask the concerned foreign media that you don’t even have correspondent  here in the first place, so what proof do you have to prove this?. There are so many things.  When they are talking about mitigation of sentences, you should also look at the content under which that offence was committed.
And let me tell you, I had instances where I had to strip soldiers, because right inside, you see him dressed in a cameo, but underneath he has a pair of mufti and the slightest fight he would remove his dress and go.
Again,  sometimes  you look at the enemy, he  has no face, he sits down drinks  with people and you won’t know he is a key commander of Boko Haram, because they don’t have any mark and they are familiar with the terrain more than any other person. By the time he sneaks in and goes  and tells  them .  At the same time, there are people that sympathise with them.
For instance the day Bama was attacked, we had  over one 1000 people, all the equipment and all that, they ran all  the way from Bama up to Maiduguri. Fine, by the time you look at them, they only have lacerations  because of running and when you check their magazines, they have their magazines in tact. So, we know they did not even fire a single ram. We started getting phone calls from Abuja that people were attacked, killed, they denied them access to the bank and medical facility.
And do you know the implication? The level of indiscipline was unprecedented and you as an officer you cannot even check a soldier. So those extreme measures really helped and will continue to help and in any case I was not there when you were chosen to be a soldier.
When they pay them allowance nobody heard it, you understand. I have always used myself as an example, I tell my wife and children, if I come back fine  and,  if I don’t so be it.
You were not there when I signed to join, basically that is the simple truth that people fail to understand. You don’t base  things  on sentiment in this issue and honestly,  it would have devastating consequences on the Nigeria society unless the lesson is learnt.
People should not be dabbling into such matter; there is no sentiment about it. That is why the society is not developing. Honestly,  we are not being sincere to ourselves.  In USA,  once you commit an offense, you pay for it.
The society would be sure you have been dealt with. While are we leaving double standard life? You want to live in peace, you have asked somebody to go and take the peace and he ran away,  who else would go and do it?
It is as simple as that. Look at it from that perspective, there was a time when there was a protest to us in a Cantonment and women said that their husbands would  be deployed to Bama and all the rest.
Honestly,  there was no such plan and in any case, the ring leader, her husband was not even serving in Maiduguri, he was in Port Harcourt, but people failed to understand this kind of things. Somebody will instigate people but for goodness sake, if they don’t fight the war, how would you get peace?
It is Bama today,  tomorrow it could have been Maiduguri, Damaturu the next, then it  will be Abuja and we will all be pushed into the  well. I don’t know if any one of you has ever seen Boko Haram.
What I’m trying to say is that honestly, you mistake them for somebody who is begging for arms not knowing that he is such a dangerous terrorist. I went for a seminar before I was posted there, we were just moving around by 4pm they came and attacked us, you know they killed about 40  of them  By the time I was viewing the corpses, and this is somebody that could not even afford a pair of bathroom slippers. You see the right leg is yellow the other one is blue tied with rag. Nothing, no helmet, no regular salary, no family to talk to and yet he died fighting , then what more of a soldier?
And one thing I always use to motivate soldiers with is that, now if you run away how would you stand before your wives and children and what would you tell them?
They do get sophisticated weapons sometimes, how do they get it and who is the major financier?
These are questions that I do ask myself sometimes. But if you look at it, nothing is hidden in this world, any major procurement of arms and ammunition will be at public domain, there hasn’t been anytime Boko Haram went to procure arms and ammunition, most of their arms and ammunition were donated by the cowards that we have in military uniform.
I don’t have record but I can tell you basically that is it. That is why this going to Europe by some of our brothers and sisters, it doesn’t really pay well sometimes because they adopt some of them and you know some of them are talented. They would interview you and know your talent.
When Chief Olusegun  Obasanjo came in 1999, he took steps that suggested to have brought back the military on the part of professionalism. As their image maker can you explain to the public what has happened in recent times?
When President Obasanjo came back in 1999, he took some measures aimed at restructuring and professionalising the armed forces. I  will rather speak for the Nigerian Army-  that was the measure in which some that were still in service were retired.
Though there was a transformation programme embarked upon and there was attitudinal change and some other things. It was supposed  to be a 15- year plan in which every segment of the military could have been effectively affected.
This is 2015, that is the end of phase 1. And a new development plan by the Chief of Army Staff is on to see the Nigerian Army in the next 20 years. It has been better in the sense that new equipment, restructuring of the military, courses, seminars and establishment of departments and new offices that were not there before.
For instance, we have a liaison officer at the National Assembly; we have the department of Civil- Military Affairs, Department of Army Innovation,  formerly known as Department of Army Transformation and so many other things.
But, this is my personal opinion; there is no way Army can transform in isolation without  the wider society, This is  because transformation should have been  given more importance,  more vigour with the civil society also being transformed. With that we can transform collectively.
What do you expect the society to do?
My expectation is that, of course, the MD was talking about discipline, something like orientation and I can tell you that an average secondary school student in Nigeria now, say ss1-ss3 cannot  be compared to those secondary school students in 70s or 80s,  for instance.  They know nothing about the Nigerian society, may be you could say the influence of the social media. But they  need to have a sense of direction so that they can grow up as good citizens of the country, you understand.
New orientation in the Army.
You don’t hear bloody civilian these days, before when you get to the bank, a person in army uniform could harass you and take turn before you, but it shouldn’t be. Such things don’t exist anymore.

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