Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Army chief confirms foreigners involved in Boko Haram bombings

AHEAD of the 51st Independence anniversary and continued threat posed by Boko Haram, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika, said yesterday, that despite successes recorded by the Army in its onslaught against the group, there was still need for better performance.

General Ihejirika spoke  even as he declared that there was foreign collaboration in the activities of the terrorist group, especially in the area of training of sect members in some African countries and funding from abroad but chose not to mention names.

The Army chief, who spoke at the 2011, third quarter, Chief of Army Staff Conference, also disclosed that he had taken the issue of welfare of officers and soldiers of the Army under his command as priority.

Reasons for grumbling

Iherijika who said no soldier could say his welfare or salaries and allowances were being toyed with, noting that there should be no reason for grumbling in that regard, noted: “Yes, it is true people say we (Army) have been doing well in handling the Boko Haram menace.

This quarterly conference is, however, borne out of my belief that, in spite of the commendation, the expectation, both from my office and the public, is that a situation where bombings continue to go on in spite of measures put in place is unacceptable.

“So we (General Officers Commanding, Principal Staff Officers, Corps Commanders, Brigade Commanders and Formation Commanders) need to really dissect our modules of operations and then we work and cooperate with others so as to come up with measures that will enhance security.”
Asked if it was true that foreign nationals from Niger, Sudan and Chad have been arrested in connection with the Boko Haram bombings and attacks, Ihejirika said: “Let me start with the involvement of Boko Haram or terrorist activities in Nigeria. It is definite that the groups that call themselves Boko Haram or terrorist receive training and possibly funding from elements abroad.

“This was evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them; the type of communication equipment we have captured from them; and the expertise they have displayed in preparation of improvised explosive and these are pointers to the fact that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.”

On whether security agencies would ever contain and curtail the terrorist menace and restore the country to normalcy, he said: “What I want to say is that the Army will live up to the expectations of Nigerians and the army is prepared to carry out any task assigned to it. The issue of curbing security is a collective thing running from government at various levels, well meaning citizens and all the security agencies. But what I want to assure you is that the Army will cooperate and collaborate with other security agencies to improve on our present performance.”

When asked if he was aware that issues of allowances and welfare was raising dust among soldiers, the Army chief said: “As far as I am concerned, the officers and soldiers are getting their welfare as at when due and at the right time. Before I took over, the Army used to be paid last but today, there is no service that pays salaries and allowances before the Army.

In any case if there are complains on welfare, I want that to be brought to my knowledge but there is a general improvement in the welfare of officers and soldiers and in the provision of accommodation, a lot is going on now and most of the projects will be commissioned before the end of November.”


Related stories: Video - Four Boko Haram members to face death penalty for UN attack

Boko Haram suicide bomber attacks police headquarters

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing

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