Cameroon kills 27 militants to save 480 Nigerian troops


To protect the fleeing 480 Nigerian soldiers from harm, Cameroonian troops killed 27 suspected Boko Haram militants between Monday and Tuesday, the Cameroon State Radio said yesterday.

The radio said the Cameroonian soldiers escorted their Nigerian counterparts back home after the Tuesday attack.

It said Cameroonian soldiers killed the insurgents who attacked areas the Nigerian troops fled to during a battle with the militants. The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja claimed that the troops “strayed” into Cameroon while making a “tactical maneouvre”.

Sixteen of the suspected insurgents, the radio said, were killed on Monday and the 11 others on Tuesday.

Cameroonian troops, the radio said, beat back two attempts by Boko Haram to enter the country’s northern territory through a locality sharing borders with Borno State.

The troops seized heavy weapons and destroyed one of the vehicles the militants came with,  the report added.

Following the attacks, President Paul Biya ordered that the Nigerian soldiers be escorted back home, the radio said.

“The head of state has instructed that the columns of Nigerian soldiers who entered Cameroonian territory should be camped in specific locations and supervised by the Cameroonian army. The Nigerian soldiers have been provided feeding, medical treatment and fuel on instructions of the head of state.”

Colonel Didier Badjeck, a Cameroon military spokesman, told Voice of Africa (VOA) that allegations in Cameroonian media that the incidence was a defection were unfounded, adding that they were careful over the presence of the Nigerian soldiers as Boko Haram militants could also disguise as a regular army and attack them.

He said people should allow the Cameroonian army to fight Boko Haram as professional soldiers.

The extent of the underfunding of the Nigerian military over the years was exposed yesterday.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, said Nigeria is on the verge of disintegration, adding that the country requires drastic action to preserve its unity. According to him, the military is not only overstretched in dealing with insurgency, it is also grossly underfunded.

“I tell you as a politician and a lawmaker that I am seeing signs of disintegration of this country,” Sekibo said.

He spoke during a session by the Military Law Forum of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the 2014 Annual General Conference in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The theme was: ‘The Nigerian Armed Forces in Internal Security Operations: Between Law and National Security Imperatives’.

To Sekibo, a successful fight against insurgency will depend on how well the military is equipped, adding that Nigeria’s unity now primarily lies in the hands of the armed forces.

“As chairman of Senate Committee of Defence, I can categorically say that our military is drastically under-funded. If you’re sending a man to go somewhere to fight, they cannot do with empty hands.

“Our military is much overstretched. That makes me to ask: Is pipeline vandalism an internal security issue for the military to handle? Is oil theft an internal security issue for the military as well ethnic crisis? I don’t see any reason why if we adequately train the other para-military forces like the police, they cannot handle such issues.

“It means that we have to encourage the police and give them the relevant training so that they will be able to stop ordinary pipeline vandalism, oil theft and some of these smaller issues, so that the military can face major crisis, even though they are internal, and bring peace in our land.

“In this insurgency issue, if the perception of the people becomes stronger than what is happening, then destruction is imminent. For that not to happen, it is in the hands of the armed forces. They have to fight their best.

“They have to make sacrifices to make sure that the insurgents are brought to their knees. If the insurgents come on their knees and beg the country, then law and the armed forces have met properly,” he said.

Sekibo urged the military to put the people first, and not violate human rights in a bid to please the government.

“I think as a senator that the military is not the people’s military. The military is the government’s military. Unfortunately I’m saying so because I represent the people.

“I think that if the military is for the people, then it should be about the people’s protection first, before the nation’s protection. We must make our military the military of the people,” Sekibo said.

The Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Jos, Prof Joash Amupitan (SAN), said the police and other para-military agencies should be properly trained, equipped and motivated so as to minimise the army’s internal security responsibilities.

“A situation where the members of the Armed Forces are deployed in almost every state of the federation may be inimical to the country’s democratic processes.

“Since the Armed Forces and the police and other civil authorities are jointly involved in internal security operations, the time has come for the joint training of members of the Armed Forces and the police generally or on special mission,” Amupitan  said.


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