–Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –From Mike SOGBOLA:
Criticisms of Borno Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara’s recruitment of 150 Cameroonian vigilantes mere ignorance, Isa Gusau, the governor’s spokesman has hit back.
A signed statement by the governor’s spokesman of Sunday, picked out Dr. Ona Ekhomu, President, Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON) criticism of the Borno State Governor deployment of Cameroonian vigilante as an action showing ignorance of current security issues in the Lake Chad Basin.
The Lake Chad Basin and parts of Nigeria’s North-East has been battling with Boko Haram insurgency for a decade now.
The protracted crisis, led the Borno Governor to recently recruit vigilantes from across Northern Nigeria and from neighbouring Cameroon.
This drew criticisms of many persons, among which include Dr. Ekhomu.
In a reaction from the Borno Governor, his spokesman, Gusau said: “It was for his ignorance of current security cooperation amongst states within the Lake Chad Region, that Dr Ona Ekhomu, President, Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON) issued press statement criticizing Borno Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum for equipping 150 Cameroonian vigilantes who have joined the fight against Boko in northern part of Borno State, in the shores of the Lake Chad.”
Gusau said:”I have read reports in at least five newspapers credited to my elder brother, Dr. Ona Ekhomu who said with emphasis that Governor Babagana Umara Zulum acted illegally by equipping 150 cameroonian Vigilantes to join the fight against Boko Haram In Nigeria. He even said the Governor’s decision was a huge mistake in disregard for the Nigerian Army and Nigeria’s sovereignty.
“I say with no intent to disrespect Dr Ekhomu, that his press statements were based on complete ignorance. First of all, Governor Zulum’s operational arrangements with the 150 Cameroonian vigilantes happened with full involvement of the Nigerian Army’s component in the multinational joint task force, currently fighting Boko Haram in eight regions affected by Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic.
“In fact, it was at the headquarters of 5 Brigade of Nigerian Army in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area in northern Borno State, that officials of Borno government presented patrol vehicles and other logistics to the Cameroonians last week.”
He added that:” Pictures of the events were released to the media and I am surprised that Dr Ekhomu didn’t make effort to get these facts before issuing press statements to criticize that hopefull productive counter terrorism effort.”
He said:” The Cameroonian vigilantes are operating in parts of northern Borno located in the shores of the Lake Chad and they are operating under the coordination and command of the Nigerian Army component of the multinational task force.”
Gusau said:” One of the key benefits of having these vigilantes is the latitude to generate and pass on intelligence from border communities in Cameroon and to also pursue insurgents who occasionally flee from Nigerian territories to border communities in Cameroon where Nigerian troops may be constrained to engage them.”
The spokesman explained that in addition to the full involvement of the Nigerian Army on the 150 Cameroonian vigilantes, Governor Umara is member of the Lake Chad Governors Forum in which ”Governors of eight regions of the Lake Chad Basin affected by Boko Haram are involved in cross-border cooperation on security.
He said:” That Lake Chad Governors Forum (to which Governors of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and their counterparts in five regions of Cameroon, Chad and Niger are members) was established with the involvement of the United Nations Security Council’s committee on counter terrorism and the federal government of all the countries.”
He recalled that:” The forum’s first meeting took place in Maiduguri in May 2018 and the second meeting held in Niamey, Niger Republic around July, 2019. The main objective of that forum is to ease cross border cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram in the affected countries.”
He said: ” I am surprised that Dr Ekhomu, who is a security consultant, is not aware of all these measures set in place in the determined effort to deploy new approaches of fighting the Boko Haram. “
He however advised persons who wants to speak to the media on security issues to take time to research on subject matters and get the facts before rushing to the press.