Contents of the letter on ways to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency, presented by a Borno delegation to President Muhammadu Buhari last Monday have emerged.
The delegation led by Governor Kashim Shettima, had former governors, religious leaders, traditional rulers, elders, national and state assembly members, local government chairmen, women groups, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and labour unions.
Governor Shettima explained what was tendered to the president was the outcome of an extraordinary security meeting which he convened in Maiduguri on December 31, 2018.
In the letter containing 12 security-related observations and 10 demands, the president was urged to ask the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai why the 800 Civilian JTF fighters recruited into the Nigerian Army by him, were not deployed to Borno state to fight Boko Haram.
We authoritatively gathered that the observation was the seventh in the letter while the fifth appealed to President Buhari to order the immediate deployment of the ex-CJTF fighters as they were courageous and understood Borno terrain better than most soldiers deployed from other parts of Nigeria.
The seventh observation reads: “That, as observed by the leadership of the Civilian JTF without contrary view (from the military) at the meeting, majority of over 800 members of the Civilian JTF enlisted into the Nigerian Army are currently not deployed to Borno State where they can use their local knowledge of communities, in the fight against Boko Haram”.
However, the fifth demand reads, “Mr President should consider directing that the over 800 members of the Civilian JTF enlisted into the Nigerian Army, be immediately re-deployed to Borno State, be equipped and given specialized training where necessary, for the purpose of contributing their local knowledge of the terrain in Borno State, in the fight against Boko Haram”.
Furthermore, the letter told the president that more than 26,000 Civilian JTF members who battle insurgents alongside the military depend on sticks and knives and appealed to him to liaise with the National Assembly in order to equip a selected number of fighters.
The demand which was the fourth reads: “Mr President should consider working with the National Assembly towards the speedy amendment of the Terrorism Act or coming under “a doctrine of necessity” to approve the specialized and regulated use of non-prohibitive arms for selected volunteers of the Civilian JTF, for the specific reason of fighting the Boko Haram in specific locations. Such use of arms should be for a specific period of time under strict monitoring by the Military”.
In another observation, the letter informed the President that the Borno State police command urgently required high calibre weapons to preserve constitutional authorities in liberated and rebuilt communities.
The demand for this which is second in the letter reads: “Mr President should consider and approve, as a matter of special case, the specialized use of AA rifles for the Borno State Police Command for capacity enhancement as against the current dependence on AK 47 rifles”.
The letter also informed the nation’s leader that Civilian JTF members that have been involved in intelligence gathering, identification and arrest of suspected Boko Haram members, were worried about the military’s operation safe corridor programme which releases repentant insurgents into the society.
Noting that not all apprehended and freed sect members might honour their promise to turn a new leaf by staying away totally from terrorism, the letter demanded that ”Mr President should consider and approve the suspension of the ongoing de-radicalization and reintegration of repentant Boko Haram insurgents until such a time they do not pose serious threat to our fighting force”.