SOME retired military officers and security experts yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the nation’s service chiefs over Boko Haram’s attack troops in Metele, Borno State.
In different interviews with our reporters yesterday, the ex-military officers and security experts charged President Buhari to replace the service chiefs with new officers, saying that the country was not getting the desired result in the fight against the insurgents.
Many officers of the 157 Task Force Battalion were reportedly killed by the deadly sect in the said attack, while several military officers who had gone to evacuate the bodies of their fallen colleagues were also killed in another attack by the insurgents on November 19.
Early media reports put the casualty figure at about 100, but the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said that only 23 soldiers were killed in the attack. He also put the number of troops wounded in action at 31.
A two-time Minister of Science and Technology and former head of the Nigerian War College, Gen. Sam Momah (rtd), said the country has to change its tactics in the conflict against Boko Haram.
His said: “It is a guerrilla war and it is obvious that we are still using conventional methods to confront it, and that is wrong. It will not work. We have to change.
“How can you be using fighter jets to fight people who are not all located in one place?
“Troops have to undergo re-training in countering terrorism. The army has to join them in disguise and destroy them from within.
“The army have to move in and know who they are, know who their commanders are and know their lines.
“It is not about fighter planes right now. I’m embarrassed by the current tactics of the army. These are simple tactics that the commander in chief should be aware of.
“Then you have to depend on the citizens to give you information about them. And to do that, you have to ensure that they the citizens have good roads, basic health care, light, food and water.
“You have to take care of your citizens so they can assist you to curb terrorism.”
Asked whether it was time to change the service chiefs, he said: “Surely, it is not out of place for Nigerians to raise their voices and call for the sack of the service chiefs.
“Calling for their sack depends on the overall variables, which will determine that they should be changed.
“It is definitely not out of place for service chiefs to be changed if we are not getting expected results.”
Momoh’s position was also supported by retired Group Captain S.B. Adamu, who feared that the security chiefs are not in tune with what it takes to crush the insurgents.
He said: “From the look of things, it seems that the people in charge of the security of the country have run out of ideas on how to tackle the issue.
“It also seems that it might be necessary that the service chiefs step aside so that new hands can be tested.”
Commodore Abimbola Olaribigbe Ayuba (rtd), also said: “Based on the recent attacks launched by the insurgents after they were thought to have been defeated, it may be in the general interest of the people to replace the current service chiefs with new ones.
It is about time that such should be done.”
Brig-Gen Peter Omale (rtd) regretted the manner the officers were massacred by insurgents.
He noted that the Metele incident has further exposed the weakness of the Nigerian army in war situations.
Omale advised President Muhammadu Buhari to procure modern war equipment and task the military on intelligence gathering to tackle the menace of Book Haram.
He said: “Since the attacks by the sect are on the increase, there is the need for the military to change tactics and use maximum force.
“The war against Book Haram has further exposed the weakness of the Nigeria Army in war situations.
“Boko Haram has become a big time business where capitalist countries are happy in advancing their trade of arms’ sales.
“The solution will not be immediate. Moreover, there are moles in the army whose loyalty is divided. Some of the soldiers have one of their legs in the Nigerian Army and one with Boko Haram.”
A security expert, Hon Dipo Okeyomi, asked President Buhari to sack the service chiefs, adding: “The service chiefs have tried their best for the country and should take the bow at this point.
“This is the time to bring in new officers who understand the terrain.
“We need new officers who are familiar with the areas of operation. If we do otherwise, we would never achieve the desired result.
“Aside from replacing the service chiefs, I will also strongly advise that there should be discipline among security operatives in the country.
“Security business requires high level of discipline and the earlier we enforce this, the better.”
Okeyomi further advised the Federal Government to consider involving traditional rulers in security issues because “they know the people and can use their clout to promote peace and fish out undesirable elements in the society.
“Lastly, citizens should consider playing active role in security issues by providing information to security operatives.
“The security operatives should also do well to gain the confidence of the people by protecting their identity when they give them useful information.”
Another security expert, Wilson Esangbedo, who is the Chairman, Lagos Zone of the Association of Licensed Private Practitioners of Nigeria, opined that based on what is happening now, “empirically, the government needs to go back to the drawing board because as the elections are coming, it may be that there could be more attacks.
“Remember during ex-President Jonathan’s time, before the election, the attack from Boko Haram became vicious and President Jonathan had to postpone the election so as to have more time to deal with the Boko Haram insurgency.
“When the government announced that the war against Boko Haram had been won, people were happy. But right now, which foreign investor is going to come in when there are killings and attacks?
“It is not possible.”
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of King Davids Security, Dr Davidson Akhimien, said the government should re-strategise to defeat Boko Haram. “And the new strategy should take into consideration all aspects and encompass different strategies.
“Who is Boko Haram? A rag tag army? If not that corruption has eaten into our system, who is Boko Haram to be compared with our army?
“We restored peace in Liberia. We restored peace in Sierra Leone. So who is Boko Haram?
“We should re-organise our army. Let’s get our act together and do the needful.”