Despite Nigerian Army’s statement that ‘Operation Cat Race’ had been extended by two months to further curb incessant killings in some northern states, communities have said that there are no troops on ground.
Coincidentally, the troops disappeared on March 31, the same day the exercise was initially billed to end, according to residents accounts in Benue, Taraba and Kogi States.
The states are amongst the six states that President Muhammadu Buhari identified for troops deployment in February, following unabated cases of deadly attacks linked to herdsmen, kidnapping and cattle rustling.
The Army initially said the exercise would last for six weeks from mid-February to the end of March. But on April 2, the Army said troops would remain in the communities for another eight weeks.
One important fact here is why it’s difficult to keep the army in these areas despite no positive Intel ending deadly attacks in the region. The answer to this question is not far fetched considering past events and formal security challenges.
Before now, ThePinnacle has earlier affirmed to security as a very big business in Nigeria and getting bigger under this administration. The structure of Nigeria Security System makes it very expensive to maintain especially when it comes to operations like this.
First is the cost of keeping the army there: Despite the sole role of security agencies to protect lives and properties for which they are paid normal salary, they earn extra more when they are sent to troubled areas. This was the case that resulted to the IG redrawing police special force about a month ago in troubled Benue Areas as the police were not able to sustain that special payment. The reason is simply corruption and political will.
On the question of political will, it is understandable to see President Buhari finally reacting to killings and giving directives but both boko-haram and herdsmen activities are alot more than normal insecurity… they are businesses now and since the presidency have access to Boko-haram and could “negotiate with them to free dapchi girls without ransom,” they could as well end attack in North-East and North-Central.
Now, Residents fear that their communities could be overrun in the coming days if no immediate security measures are put in place. This is also because the police had in February withdrawn special forces previously operating in the areas before soldiers were deployed.
Mr Suswam, brother of former Governor Gabriel Suswam, said the perceived duplicity of the Nigerian security agencies had made it difficult for the locals to trust the government in the herdsmen crisis. “The soldiers have left,” said Terkura Suswam, founder of Ashi Polytechnic and a community leader in Anyiin, Logo Local Government Area. “I have been to their base in Chembe more than three times within the past one week but no single soul was there anymore.”
The attacks in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba have sent hundreds of thousands fleeing from their communities, with many putting up at dozens of camps for internally displaced persons scattered across the region.
Mr Abdulraheem of Kogi said several communities are now left exposed, urging security agencies to consider the plight of the locals. He also identified five communities where he believed those coming to kill people in his local government are hiding.
“Oboro, Omavi, Ohoupe, Oboroke and Eikaohizenyi towards Ajaokuta are the hideouts of the attackers,” Mr Abdulraheem said. “The security agencies should comb all these areas for residents to ensure a lasting peace for the residents.”
Residents in Donga LGA in Taraba also said soldiers are no longer patrolling their communities.
The Nigerian Army spokesperson, Mr Chukwu, would neither confirm nor deny the residents claim that the troops had been withdrawn when reached for comments Friday.