Nigeria News
Military, Senators Disagree on Fresh Emergency Rule
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 Senate President, David Mark

Despite the military’s request for the continuation of emergency rule in the three North-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, senators did not change their minds against the sustenance of the policy, THISDAY learnt at the weekend.

This was the fallout of an eight-hour closed-door meeting held between the service chiefs and the Senate last Tuesday.
The permit for state of emergency rule expired November 20.

The Senate had penultimate week summoned the service chiefs to brief it on the state of security in the three North-east states  which had been under emergency rule since May 2013 until the rule eventually expired 10 days ago.
The non-renewal of the state of emergency in the said states followed senators’ inability to agree on the need and essence of further extension.

The service chiefs during the eight-hour closed-door meeting had implored them to allow the emergency rule which expired on November 20 to continue, saying it would enhance the war against terrorism.

However, a source at the meeting told THISDAY that the plea did not change the senators’ hard stance against further extension of emergency rule as its opponents, mainly from the North, were not ready to shift grounds on their opposition to the policy.

The implication of this hard stance, THISDAY learnt, is that any fresh proclamation of emergency rule following the last expiration on November 20 by  President Goodluck Jonathan will still meet a brick wall if such request is sent afresh to the Senate.

The source further disclosed that the briefing by the service chiefs opened their eyes to the reason the anti-terror war had not been effective. According to him, they got to know that the morale of soldiers was currently at its lowest ebb, adding that the soldiers were not combat-ready neither were they psychologically prepared to fight.

He further explained that as a result of the lack of commitment on the part of Nigerian soldiers, they are not ready to confront the terrorists head on, regretting that instead, Nigerian soldiers go into hiding in the face of anti-terror war.

“The morale of the soldiers is low. They are not combat ready. They are not psychologically ready. Soldiers are running away from battle. There is no agreement among them. There is no commitment. We don’t have military any longer,” he lamented.

Asked if the problem did not stem from perceived poor welfare package for the soldiers despite the huge budgetary allocations for the prosecution of the war every year, the source disagreed, explaining rather that running a military apparatus is an expensive venture anywhere in the world.

Therefore, he argued that the problem had nothing to do with insufficient funds for the war neither did it border on corruption or embezzlement of the security funds.

Rather, he said the soldiers were not ready to lay down their lives possibly because they feel it is not worth it laying down their lives for the nation which does not seem to appreciate sacrifice of that magnitude.

Furthermore, he attributed low morale among Nigerian soldiers to lack of value for their individual lives by both the government and military authorities, noting that the soldiers must have seen the shoddy manner the corpses of their fallen colleagues were treated including being buried at mass graves on the battle front without allowing their families access to the corpses.

He contrasted the treatment of Nigerian soldiers with that of their counterparts in the United States whom he said were always given colourful state burial in a way that anyone would desire to serve his country in military capacity in view of the enviable burial rites usually accorded fallen soldiers.

According to him, when soldiers’ corpses are brought home from the battle front in the United States, they are received by the president, governors and senior military officials in the presence of their family members.

He also added that unlike the case in Nigeria, corpses of American soldiers brought from the battle fronts are usually within the range of three or four or at most 10 in extreme cases and are received amid paraphernalia of glory in the land.

“When that is done, who will see that and not wish to be a soldier when you realise how honourable it is to die fighting for your country? The family will also feel proud to see such high profile dignitaries gracing their loved one’s burial. But in our own case, soldiers are buried in shallow mass grave,” he said.

He insisted that it would be difficult for the senators to approve any fresh proclamation of emergency rule should the president opt to make any fresh request for it, noting that most senators are of the belief that the rule has failed to produce the desired result, especially as the rage of terror attacks have continued unabated.

The argument has also been made that the president, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has constitutional powers to deploy the military troops to wherever he wants without necessarily depending on the permit for an emergency rule.

But as if the insurgents are cashing-in on the said low morale of the Nigerian soldiers, they have upped the ante and frequency of the attacks  with the latest being the killing of dozens of people in a fresh attack on a Borno town, Shani, during a siege on it by members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect on Saturday night.

Some fleeing residents of the town, who spoke to journalists on phone, said over 30 armed Boko Haram fighters on motorcycles stormed Shani in southern part of the troubled state.
Shani is about 260 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and shares borders with some communities in equally troubled Adamawa State.

One of the fleeing residents, Elijah Ibrahim, said: “The terrorists came at about 8pm and started shooting at everything in sight. The gunshots were deafening and kept approaching my house that I had to run into the bush with my grown up children.”
He said: “I had to however leave my wife and my little children with her believing they would do them no harm. I slept in the bush with two grown ones and without going back into the town proceeded to Biu this morning.”

Ibrahim claimed that the insurgents set houses on fire to force residents out and that it has been difficult getting his wife and the children he left behind in Shani since Saturday night.
A military source in Biu confirmed the attack, adding that the insurgents burnt down a police station and other public buildings in the community.

The Borno State Police Commissioner, Clement Adoda, who also confirmed the attack on the town to journalists in Maiduguri on phone, said several property were destroyed but that no life was lost.

Shani had been under Boko Haram attack in the past, the Saturday invasion was the third since 2012 when insurgency escalated in the North-east region. The town, a council headquarters, came under heavy attacks shortly before the 2011 general election as suspected Boko Haram insurgents raided the local office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), killed some ad hoc staff and destroyed electoral materials.

The Shani Divisional Police Station was also attacked mid June 2014, with not less than five policemen killed.

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