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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Boko Haram: Jokolo weeps for Nigerian military


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Former Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji. Al-Mu­stapha Haruna Jokolo, a retired Major and former Aide-de-camp to former Head of State and All Progressives Con­gress chieftain, General Muhammad Buhari, has expressed deep concern over the state of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The outspoken officer who had a distin­guished career in the military is disturbed that soldiers in uniform today are not being properly equipped, trained and inspired to give their utmost. He argues that this is the result of years of breakdown of the institu­tional framework and strict observance of the proper procedure for management of the finances of the armed services. In this two-part interview, Jokolo explains in some detail and indirectly highlights what needs to be done to begin the process of rebuilding the psyche of the military.
Excerpts…
The death sentence handed some soldiers who were alleged to have been involved in mutiny by the Military Court Martial has generated contro­versy. Some say the sentence is in or­der and others have contrary opinions. Which side are you? You are a military man because they say once a soldier man always a soldier.
I was a soldier. The Court Martial before and after is a very dicey situation that we find our­selves in. What led to the mutiny? That’s what one should find out first. For soldiers to mutiny is a very serious offence. But you cannot just take it on its face value to say they have muti­nied; then you make them face a court martial and they are sentenced to death. If I were the Chief of Army Staff or the Minister of Defence or the Commander-in-Chief, I will first of all order a thorough investigation by uninterested persons and not by the military themselves con­ducting the investigation. I will get retired mili­tary officers with knowledge of law, those with Military Police and Intelligence training, high ranking officers with junior officers to go to the scene of the crime to find out from the soldiers without the soldiers on the ground being there. Just isolate the officers, let the soldiers feel se­cured and free to open their minds and tell you what their grievances are. What would warrant them to mutiny? Was it that they did not have good training before being sent on a mission or that they didn’t know the seriousness of mu­tiny? Or there was some lackadaisical attitude from the officers themselves? Is it that they do not know how to treat their subordinates? Or, take a look at the operation itself. Were they handicapped that they did not have enough weapons, materials and equipment to fight the war? All these have to bear on the outcome of the investigations. Then, I will also find out from the officers, what warranted the soldiers to mutiny? What kind of training did these of­ficers have? Were they well trained to under­stand what relationship should be between the officer and the soldier? Because you have to know that the soldier is responsible for carry­ing out his duties as assigned to him. And you the officer is to supervise him.
But that espirit-de-corps must be maintained because sometimes, your life depends on that soldier. And that is why you train together as a unit so that if anyone of you makes one mis­take, you are given punishment together. Like in the NDA, we were trained together to dis­regard our tribes, religion, everything to look at ourselves as one unit so that if, for instance, there is an ambush, if anybody coughed during that ambush, it exposes your position and the enemy will know you are there. That enemy will bring hell fire on you or could cause your death. You are also trained to protect your col­leagues to the extent that if a grenade is thrown at you, you become brave enough to jump over that grenade to blow yourself to pieces to allow your friends to escape.
So, what happened that these soldiers mu­tinied against their General Officer Com­manding? We are not talking about Company Commander, Platoon Commander and up to Brigade Commander. We are talking about the highest-ranking officer in the Division, the GOC – a Major General! It is not funny. So, I will not easily just brush aside their grievances and condemn them. I must hear from them first. Secondly, were they trying to understand the gravity of that offence? Like if you do not know you are doing something wrong. How can somebody judge you wrong for doing something wrong? If your two-year old child sees a cobra meandering all over the place, do you think that two-year old would run away from that cobra? But if you, as an adult, see a cobra, will you stay? So, it depends on the training and at the same time the perception. Military men are trained to understand that if
 
 
 
 



you mutiny, it is punishable with death. You have to make them know the gravity of the of­fence they have committed. And if you are re­sponsible for their welfare, training, operations there and you are not giving them, how do you hold them responsible?
Are you surprised that the GOC has been retired in the midst of all these?
How can he just be retired like that? Why don’t you put him in the same category with those officers? That means something went wrong with him if he was retired. So, why blame the soldiers alone? Why don’t you put them together to face court martial? You can­not just because he is a General say he is above that. We had an incident in 1969 in Vietnam when Lieutenant William Kali, an American, massacred some Vietnamese. He was brought back to the US and investigated. He was sen­tenced. There is nobody who is above the law. Because you are a General doesn’t make you above the law. You must consider this: that if these soldiers knew what they did and just took advantage of their number and then insulted the officer by firing at him, then they were trained to know the implication, they should not be forgiven.
They should be court-martialed. But the beauty of it is that there are three different kinds of court martial. There is District Court Martial. I do not know how they did the Gen­eral Court Martial because in our days, there were three different kinds of court martial. We had District Court Martial, General Court Martial and Field General Court Martial. District Court Martial is applied only to less than officers, other ranks. So, how they gave them General Court Martial, I do not know. It is only when you have mixture of officers and other ranks that you can conduct General Court Martial; unless they erased the District Court Martial after I had left. For a soldier, you do not apply General Court Martial. You apply DCM. And there is a limit to what they can give. But definitely, the punishment for mutiny is death. So, the General Court Mar­tial is for everybody. Field General Court Martial is in only emergency, maybe during war. Then you can on the spot carry out the General Court Martial if you had to. But in this respect, the normal thing is that there will be a Judge Advocate and the officers have the right to object to the President of the Court Martial to call the officers who are conduct­ing the Court Martial, except the prosecutor. And they have to adjourn if there are genuine reasons for objecting to that. And even after they have passed the sentence, they still have to state these words in sentence: “subject to the approval of appropriate superior authority.” In this respect, whoever the convener is, whether the GOC or Chief of Army Staff would have to refer the judgement to somebody higher than him. That person will now have to send it to Lawyers in the Department of Legal Services to determine what it is all about and they can thereafter make recommendations. It has to go to the Army Council. And the Chairman of the Army Council is the President himself. If he is not able to go there, he would appoint the Minister of Defence. Even after this, those sentenced still have the right to appeal because Court Martial is equivalent to a High Court. They can go to Court of Appeal and from there to Supreme Court. So, it is not something that can be carried out immediately.
This issue is related to the fight against terrorism. How do you see the prosecution of the war against the in­surgents, generally?
My experience as a student at the Command and Staff College in 1982 and 1983 should be helpful here. Now it is called Armed Forces Staff College. I was given a scenario where there is a Nigerian oil rig in the sea and it was captured by terrorists. In that scenario, I was the Commanding Officer. I was given a bat­talion and told to go and recapture the oil rig. They asked me to make plans for the recovery of that oil rig. I went to the board with every­body, instructors, chief instructor, comman­dant and everybody there. I told them I could not do it. They were shocked. They thought I was joking.
I said I was not going to do it. The reason I said so was, first of all, there were some British officers training us at that time. I said even in Britain, America, Russia, Germany, and in all advanced countries, this is not a conventional operation. They do not use regular troops for that. It is a special operation. It needs specially trained officers and men. Like in Britain they have Special Air Service (SAS) or Special Boat Service (SBS), which is for underwater operation. In America, you have the Green Berets as well as the Special Forces, the Delta Force. We have Spetnez in this other country.
In Germany, you have GSG9. These are special forces for this kind of operation. Now what we have in Nigeria is insurgency, the highest of what we call guerilla warfare. Some of us were trained in guerilla warfare. Nowhere in Nigeria have we units for that purpose. And when they gave me that task, I told them that this scenario you have painted here is real. We have the oil rigs and we have tourists. I just told them so that they could be aware that there was need for training for that purpose. There was nowhere we were trained for that kind of thing. You could do it in the classroom and that’s it, but for military, you must physically go. Even the Special Forces, when they are going to conduct this kind of operation, they must stage it somewhere. They must rehearse. Look at what America is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan; look at what everybody is fac­ing in Syria, Lebanon and Libya. So, it’s not something you will overrun overnight. Take a look at the balance of forces, Nigerian Armed Forces on the one hand and the Boko Haram. They have Libyans and different nationalities and these people are veterans. They fought in Mali, Somalia, Libya and Iraq. They are still in Libya and Iraq. So when you saw the movie of how they attacked that Maimalari Barracks, you saw white men among them.
You heard people say they were being sup­plied by helicopter at night. Now, who was doing the supplying and from where were they coming? So, you do not totally blame the Nigerian soldier for the failure because it depends on the nation. Have you trained them enough to do the job they are supposed to do? Have you given them enough motivation? Do you have enough motivation for them? Do you have medical evacuation at all levels because if they shoot somebody, there must be field ambulance and medical doctors. There must be aircraft to take the wounded to where they will be treated. So, it is not enough to say go and fight Boko Haram. Some of the recruits you see do not even have boots to graduate with. Some of my colleagues were comman­dants there and they used to invite me to go and watch parades. Some have no boots; so half of the graduands could not take part in the gradu­ation ceremony.
What then is the problem?
I don’t know. Hear what I am going to tell you now. Here was an officer from the Finance Corps. Some two, three months ago, he said their problem was that they had no money. The next day, the Minister of Finance came on air to say that N130 billion had been released to them in four months. The next day again, the Ministry of Defence issued a statement that the money was not channelled through the ministry. It was direct from the Presidency to the services. Now, that is the mischief there. Later on, they said it was given to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ihejirika. Now, if you have a situation where money meant for an or­ganisation was personalised, instead of you to go through the channel that it is supposed to be and there are laid down procedures for checks and balances for contract awards, what level is supposed to approve what, what the Ministry of Defence, Army Tenders Board and Presi­dency can do, the Federal Executive Council can do, if N130 billion vanished into thin air and nobody can account for it, don’t you think this country is sleeping or weeping? You have N130 billion given to the Army alone, yet they claim they have no equipment to fight at the field. They do not have. The governor said it. The people on ground said it, and some Sena­tors said there is so much hush, hush. Not only that, two barracks were attacked, one in Bama and the one in Maiduguri with heavy casualties. Some aircraft, tanks and artillery pieces were damaged. Some of the armoured personnel carriers were taken away and then used to attack the soldiers. And yet none of the service chiefs went there to see what happened on ground. There was no report of anyone of them visiting that place. What are they doing in Abuja? You have high-ranking officers, you have Generals, so many Generals that even in Russia, they do not have that number of Gen­erals. Yet we are being dealt with, terrorized. A whole barracks is empty now in Bama. The whole town is a ghost town. You have Michika, a big town. You have Madagali, another big town. You have Gwoza where we have the Mobile Police training school, which this Boko Haram people have taken over. They are now persecuting people, training them. Maybe some of the 20 policemen that were said to be missing are being forced to train them. Now you have Gamboru Ngala and Bama, a big city now in the hands of Boko Haram. And now you have Konduga, which is between Bama and Maiduguri. When I was 2nd Lieutenant, I was posted to Maiduguri; then from Maiduguri to Mubi to Bama and back to Maiduguri. So I know that area like the back of my hand. So, I wonder how these people came and took over these places. And yet we are sitting down ev­eryday and saying in the in the papers that we have killed 100 Boko Haram. You know where Konduga is? It is just a few kilometres from Maiduguri. They have already overrun these areas with all the things under their control and the resources available in all those places, the money, the food and everything, they are cart­ing them away. So, how do you expect these soldiers who do not have food, who do not have equipment to go and fight these veterans? The last time we had war experience was in 1970.
Until four years ago, which soldier was in that Army who fought the war? Some of these soldiers, their grandfathers were the ones who fought the war 44 years ago. Some of these soldiers are just 16 and 17 years old. So how do you expect them to face these people who have war experience in Libya, Lebanon and everywhere with superior equipment? You have blacked out communication and these people have communication. They are using Thuraya satellite phone and whatever com­munication to reach their members. You can’t communicate. So what do you do? And you have this kind of attitude. They just want to cause collateral damage as much as possible and instill fear into people by slaughtering people and showing it. When they capture you, they behead you, like they did to the son of my course mate, Air Vice Marshal Hedima. His son, Wing Commander Hedima was in his aircraft, overshot the area and it was shot down.
He bailed out alive and the next thing we heard was that he was beheaded. And the Boko Haram people said it and nobody denied it. And this instills fear into people now. And they don’t care because they do not appear be­fore war tribunals and because they do not also know what is called Geneva Convention, but the soldiers are subject to the dictates of the Geneva Convention. That’s what happened to Japanese and other war criminals. You have propaganda that they also use. Everyday you find one Shekau or another. While the military says Shekau is dead, they are saying Shekau is alive. The military are supposed to convince us that Shekau is dead through military intel­ligence. First, if Shekau is dead, where is his body? They said they killed Shekau and his second in command in Konduga. If you are able to lay that ambush in Konduga, why don’t you prove to us that you have killed him by showing us his body? Why don’t you show us the body of Shekau? But after you said you killed him, somebody looking like Shekau ap­peared again. What proof then do you have that you have killed him?
In other words, we are not prosecut­ing the war on terrorism well?
According to my training and what I know about insurgency and counter insurgency, we are not doing anything. Maybe now we have planners and that probably is what has led to the seizure of this aircraft with money in South Africa. Maybe there is something linked with that. As for the military, the answer is no. It is beyond perception and understanding.
Now that you have mentioned the South Africa deal, let me ask you if we are not now heading for contract scan­dals that may stall the prosecution of this war against terrorism because now people are talking about moles in the military and other security arms of government. Would you say that the alarm about the $9.3 million arms deal is misleading?
It is not misleading. It is a fact. There are moles. There is no doubt about that. You in­terviewed me before and I made reference to particular individuals. I questioned their service credentials and asked what business they had coming into the Army. I gave you an example of one person and said that person lied that he is a General. Now here I am with my family and I cannot sleep with both eyes closed. Since he took over as Minister, tell me the statement he has made regarding his plans to curb the insurgency. So if you are not speak­ing, it means you are doing something behind the scene. Unless you are doing something behind the scene, why are you not speaking? When the Minister of Finance said she gave N130billion to the army, the first body to speak was the Ministry of Defence. The Min­istry said it was not through them. First, that is disloyalty. If you have any disagreement with the Minister, you go to the Minister or the President, not on the pages of newspapers. Go and tell the President that the Minister did not tell the truth. Who did she give this money to? But you don’t go and disown her by saying no, it’s not Ministry of Defence. The implication is that there is a crack within the system. That’s the role of a mole. And I know who could pos­sibly do that in the Ministry of Defence.
The present Minister in the Ministry of Defence when he was the National Security Adviser was running down the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria who is now the Emir of Kano. That was the only time he made pub­lic statement when he spoke at a seminar. He ran down the Governor of CBN and the Chair­man of EFCC because these are two sensitive positions that he has his eyes on. As NSA, he wanted his protégé, one person who is work­ing for him to take over as Governor of Central Bank. And he was running down Farida Wa­ziri because he wanted somebody else there again so that he can now control the EFCC, the Central Bank and the NSA. So when he came in as Minister of Defence, he was not performing his job and everyday you hear the office of the NSA has done this and that. He is targeting the NSA now because he wanted that position before. He was telling everybody that they were going to make him NSA.
But the Minister of Defence should not take the blame alone, what is the NSA doing regarding the insurgency and now people feel that the NSA and the Minister of Defence have no plans for curbing of this insurgency. If there is any lapse in the Ministry of Defence, what is he doing?
You are putting me in a tight corner. I am going to give you the background of these two officials so that you can make your judgement. The NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, everybody knows him to be an upright person. He is not a dishonest person. There is nowhere in his career where you find him dishonest. He was well brought up. First, he was brought up by Sardauna himself, because he is the first son of the former Sultan Dasuki. Sardauna married his grand aunt. So, he grew up in Sardauna’s house. So he has very good upbringing. Then, he was later brought up by his father as his first son. He had the best education you can think of. He was at the NDA and later went to university in America. He served as Military Assistant to Chief of Army Staff. So he knows about the Army. He served as ADC to the President. So, he knows about the Presidency. But the inter­esting thing is that when Aliyu Gusau was re­tired, it was the same Sambo Dasuki who got Babangida to appoint him NSA. But he is now throwing spanners in somebody’s job. Surpris­ingly, Aliyu is married to Sambo’s younger sister, same father, same mother. This is the irony of it. But whoever knows Aliyu knows him to be like that. That is why I will always refer to him as green snake and cobra. You can never be sure of Aliyu Gusau. He is not from Gusau. He is from Bebeji in Kano. Let’s get back to the issue of insurgency. Sambo is adviser to the President. He is not operational. He only coordinates and what he does is get reports from different organisations. Once he does that, he now collates them and advises the President. Don’t forget, it’s only the services that he gets reports from because they are also answerable to the President. The SSS, NIA, Chief of Army Staff and other military chiefs answer to the President. The Chief of Army Staff has a Director of Military Intelligence who reports to him. You have Director of De­fence Intelligence who reports to the Chief of Defence Staff. So, all these organisations have their own intelligence apparatuses. So the only thing the NSA to the President does is to col­late the information from these services. He doesn’t have troops. He doesn’t have field of­ficers. Even his office is staffed by members of these organizations – Army, Navy, Air Force. So, these are the ones who come to his of­fice. All that he does is that he signs end users certificates – if anybody is bringing anything from the military for the purpose of purchas­ing any military hardware. This role did not start from his tenure. It has always been like that. Aliyu Gusau knows it. He did it when he was NSA. It was the same thing when Sarki Mukhtar was NSA. I was in AS Mukhtar’s of­fice when he was NSA. Then there was a pur­chase of something from the Air Force without the knowledge of Sarki Mukhtar.
But for it to be allowed to come into the country, they needed end user’s certificate signed by Sarki Mukhtar who was the NSA. Unfortunately it was not signed by him. Rath­er it was signed by the Director of Defence Intelligence.
The airport people refused to authorise this movement because that was not the correct signature on the document. So, the function of the NSA is to advise the President. It is left for the President to accept. He cannot force the President to accept neither can he tell the various organisations you must do this. He is not in charge of operations. He will only do something that is directed by the President and sometimes if something happens within the organisations, he can only ask what hap­pened. They can then go together and explain to the President. Somebody is just being mis­chievous by saying the NSA did this and that because they know that he doesn’t speak.
There is this feeling by some Nigeri­ans that Boko Haram is the creation of the North in order to stall Jonathan’s Presidency. Would you consider that as a fair statement having regards to the situation on ground?
Boko Haram did not start with Jonathan and so couldn’t have been created because of President Jonathan. It started in 2002 or thereabout and that was when Obasanjo was President. Aliyu Gusau was the NSA. That was when it started. They will go and take over local governments and the police will harass them. That’s how they started. But the culmination of it was when these people were in Maiduguri and some of these gover­nors caused Boko Haram, not because of the President but because they wanted to use them as weapons against their opponents. Some of them call them Anti-Kalari, Bakassi Boys and different names. One of them became a com­missioner and Mohammed, their leader was operating in Maiduguri. How he was killed and what happened later is now in the public domain. So it was not done because of Jona­than. It started long before Jonathan and even long before Umaru Yar’Adua. It was gradual and that’s how it has happened. It started from gradual attitude and they didn’t care about it. It modified itself and became hydra-headed. That’s how it happened. If it is because of Jonathan, why should people be leaving their villages? Who are the people suffering from it now? Are they the Ijaw people or Christians? The people who are suffering more are the Muslims. They are taking away their children. Of course some Christians are there too, but it is a national phenomenon. Who in Bayelsa is suffering from Boko Haram? People are even accusing Dokubo-Asari as the one sponsoring Boko Haram.
To be continued next week
TheSun

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