President Muhammadu Buhari has met with service chiefs for the second time within a week to seek a solution to the killing of dozens of troops by the Boko Haram in Nigeria’s embattled north-east Borno State.
The 76-year-old leader has also shifted Tuesday’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Annual Conference from Benin in Edo State to Maiduguri, Borno, the theatre of insurgency.
Reports say President Buhari has been particularly troubled and embarrassed by the recent killing of dozens of troops in Metele, in Borno State.
He held his first meeting with military chiefs on Friday and the second on Sunday. The Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr Ibrahim Idris, and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi, were among those in attendance..
“In the coming days, (President) Buhari will be engaging the military and Intelligence chiefs in extensive discussions on the next steps we shall be taking,” said his media adviser, Mr Ahmed Bahsir on Monday.
A faction of the Boko Haram attacked the 157 Task Force Battalion based at Metele in northern Borno on November 18, killing scores of troops.
The president had said in statement on Saturday that immediate measures were being taken to ensure that the loopholes which led to the fatalities were blocked.
Meanwhile, as outrage continues over the killing of the soldiers, Nigerians were pushing for a probe into the spending by the military.
The Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) lobby group expressed “concern that several billions of naira allocated to the military to defend the country have neither contributed to improving the ability of Nigerian soldiers to fight Boko Haram and other armed groups, nor provided the much-needed security, especially in the northeast”.
A letter to the president by SERAP said: “Opacity and deficiencies in the way arms purchases are decided and controlled, if not urgently addressed, would continue to expose our soldiers to risk of attacks and killings; displace people and destroy their means of livelihoods and render them homeless, thereby undermining human rights, including the right to life, right to personal security, right to education and right to livelihood.”
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), blamed the Federal Government and the army for sabotaging the war through the release of so-called repentant fighters. It questioned the wisdom in freeing terrorists when their other members were engaged in serious battles with the military.
“This government, by this atrocious sabotage of our laws, has made the country a laughing stock in the international community and has encouraged the continuous waging of war against the Nigerian state by armed non-state actors, since it would seem that some persons in top government and military positions are milking Nigeria dry from the humongous cash voted for national security.”