The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has demanded an investigation into Sunday November 18, 2018 terrorist attacks on 157 Task Force Battalion at Metele Village in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State.
About seventy Nigerian soldiers allegedly lost their lives during the attacks. The high death toll has already caught the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari who summoned top brass in the Nigerian military command to review the situation, following which he dispatched his Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali (Rtd) to an emergency meeting with President Debby of Chad.
Reacting to the saddening loss of lives on the soldiers’ side, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) expressed consternation, dismay and shock. MURIC’s reaction was contained in a press statement released on Monday, 26th November, 2018. The statement was signed by the group’s director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“This is audacious, benumbing and preposterous. We are nonplussed. This is a national tragedy of no little proportion. We join millions of other patriotic Nigerians to mourn these fallen heroes. Our hearts go to those gallant soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for their country in active service. We ask Nigerians to pray for them and their families. We also implore our religious leaders to organize special
prayers for total victory over the insurgents.
“But we must not spend all the time on our mats and knees praying. We must, in the spirit of ora et labora, work more and pray less because it is our handiwork that Allah will crown with glory. Allah himself confirmed this position when He said, ‘Tell them to work and Allah will see (i.e. He will reward you for) your work…’ (Glorious Qur’an 9:105).
“The question that arises here is how much work did we do? How well did we prepare for the insurgents? There are allegations that neglect and sabotage caused the Metele fiasco. Soldiers in that axis reportedly complained of poor weaponry but nothing was done about it.
“We are therefore demanding a probe of events which led to the overrunning of Metele and the merciless killing of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents.
“MURIC recalls a similar situation in 2014 when 54 Nigerian soldiers complained to their commander that their weapons were too poor to confront better equipped Boko Haram fighters. They had earlier lost 23 men and four officers due to poor equipment when they advanced on Damboa on 9th July, 2014. This made them to demand better supplies but they were rounded up instead. They were consequently tried and sentenced to death but this was later commuted to ten years imprisonment. They are still in jail as we speak.
“What kind of people are we? Why must those who work for us suffer unnecessary hardship on account of the services they render? Why must soldiers who are defending our territorial integrity be punished unjustly? Those 54 soldiers would have been slaughtered like rams in 2014 if they had not raised objection and refused an illegal order. Their refusal to march on insurgents with bare hands created the awareness of the existence of massive fraud in the army. Why must they still be in jail today? MURIC therefore calls for presidential pardon for the 54 soldiers. They should be treated as whistle-blowers and heroes for exposing graft”.
MURIC also descended on Western powers for delaying the supply of sophisticated weapons to Nigeria and for playing tortuous politics with the issue. “We are bemused that strange conditionalities are pushed forward each time the issue of supplying better weapons to Nigeria in its fight against terrorism is raised before Western countries. They raise baseless issues of human rights and tie remote incidents to the supply. Those countries are not behaving like friends at all.
“But what moral right do we have to blame outsiders when Nigerian lawmakers are the country’s worst enemies? They have never displayed any unity of purpose when the presidency requests funds to purchase sophisticated weapons. We recall the National Assembly’s strong objection and procrastination when President Muhammadu Buhari asked for $1 billion for more arms in February 2018. It is paradoxical that the same unpatriotic elements are now blaming the presidency for the Metele tragedy.
“We urge Nigerians to open their eyes. We must never surrender the national mandate to shenanigans, egocentric and unpatriotic politicians in 2019. Never again, never again must we allow those who supervised the debilitation and emaciation of Nigerian troops to occupy the seat of power. They diverted huge amounts of money meant for arms for our soldiers to the extent that our soldiers started running each time they saw Boko Haram fighters. It is a shame that some of the drammatis personae can still blame the current administration for what happened at Metele. It is also a manifestation of gross insensitivity for anyone to politicize the disaster.
“This is food for thought for the Nigerian civil society. We are particularly miffed by the silence of powerful groups like the Nigerian Labour Congress on the moral debauchery, open blackmail and daylight robbery of our common patrimony going on in the NASS. The latter armtwisted the executive in virtually every aspect of administration yet nobody spoke out. Revelations were made about their illegal and atrocious salaries and unlawful emoluments. Nobody did as much as whisper.
“NASS delayed the 2018 budget for seven months and nobody did as much as whimper. The same NASS cut allocations to vital areas in the budget and added the deductions to its own in brazen exploitation and legislative rascality. Yet the same NLC ignored this and went on strike to put additional pressure on an overstressed administration. Silence is not golden in moments like these.
“Nonetheless, Metele or no Metele, we assert clearly, emphatically and unequivocally that Boko Haram remains technically defeated. A group of terrorists who once occupied 17 local governments, terrorized three North Eastern states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) and extended its tentacle of bombing terror to Kano and Abuja has been reduced to a
shadow of itself. It is now restricted to acts of cowardice, hiding behind little girls who play the role of suicide bombers, engaging in seasonal guerilla warfare and disguising as friendly soldiers to gain access into the camps of gallant Nigerian soldiers”.
MURIC also sent a strong message to Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram in the North East.
“To our gallant soldiers, both officers and other ranks, we salute you all. You have done well and many of you deserve medals. We are proud of you. We know all about your sacrifices for the sake of our dear country. You are on sentry all night so that we can sleep peacefully. You face hardship so that Nigeria may remain one indivisible entity.
Boko Haram would have taken Abuja but for your gallantry.
“You are our heroes. We are with you in your advance on the enemy. We assure you that you are not alone. We share your pains. Your victories gladden our hearts. We are with you in the trenches. Come rain, come shine, we will never abandon you. We are on our prayer mats in the mosques and on our knees in the churches as you battle the enemy. We charge you to forge forward. To flush out Boko Haram is a task that must be done.
“As we round off, we charge the Federal Government to quickly institute a probe of the Metele fiasco. We plead for presidential prerogative of mercy for the 54 soldiers. We call on Nigerians to treat those responsible for diverting arms money to their personal pockets like political lepers in 2019. They should not touch them with a long pole”.