Oyetunji Abioye, Gbenro Adeoye, Adelani Adepegba, Success Nwogu and Tunde Ajaja
Following renewed calls for the sacking of the security chiefs by Nigerians, including some senators and regional groups amid unabated state of insecurity in the country, Saturday PUNCH conducted online polls to gauge the feelings of ordinary Nigerians.
The polls conducted on Twitter and Facebook on Friday indicate that more Nigerians want the President, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sack the service chiefs, describing them as “failures”.
In the Twitter poll involving 3,137 persons, 82.6 per cent of the voters (2,591 respondents) called on Buhari to sack the service chiefs while 5.3 per cent of the respondents (166) did not support the call. The third option – I don’t care – was the view of 12.1 per cent of the voters (380).
The Twitter poll opened at 11.49am and closed at 5.59pm.
On Facebook, as of the time of filing this report at 8.30pm, the poll which opened at 1.30pm had 2,916 respondents. According to the poll, 91.7 per cent of the voters (that is, 2,674 respondents) called for the sacking of the service chiefs while the remaining 8.3 per cent (242 respondents) voted that they should not be sacked.
Some senators on Wednesday called on Buhari to sack the service chiefs and appoint new ones as they deliberated on a motion on the security challenges and the need to restructure the security architecture.
The service chiefs are Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Similarly, regional groups including Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and Pan Niger Delta Forum, recently backed the call by the lawmakers to sack the service chiefs.
Many comments on the pages of Punch newspaper on Facebook and Twitter are also largely in support of the sacking of the service chiefs.
For instance, Nwafor Obiorah in a Facebook post, said, “They have overstayed, a lack of new ideas, they are not supposed to stay for more than three years.”
“They should be sacked because they have failed in their responsibility,” Kenoye Tolukorimi also said on Facebook.
Ezinne Okoro, who expressed surprise at the question posed by Saturday PUNCH in the poll on Facebook, said, “Which kind question be this naa? You don’t need to ask biko (please). They should have all resigned since (Buhari inclusive) if they had shame. But unfortunately, they don’t have.”
Most of the comments on the platform toed the line of Okoro, saying sacking the service chiefs would not be enough. They said Buhari should resign after sacking them.
Om’Oghene Dennis Orido, in his post on the platform, said, “In addition to their sacking, Buhari should as well resign as a matter of urgency.”
Also according to David Omochi, who described killings under the Buhari regime as too much, “after sacking them, Mr President should sack himself for disappointing in five years”.
“PMB should sack them with himself included, they are all failure (sic),” Casmier Anthony Chinonso said on the social media platform.
On Twitter, @Zismark1 noted that sacking the service chiefs was important to discourage complacency and mediocrity.
“Whoever comes next will know that they can be sacked if change isn’t implemented, and that lack of security in unacceptable in such a nation as Nigeria. We have come forward too much to be dragged back by little things as insecurity (sic),” @Zismark1 said.
@FashanuFemi, who also commented on Twitter said, “Sack them and appoint new service chiefs that have modern security experience.”
According to @OnwubikoUche1, new ideas are needed as “you can’t still be doing something in the same way and expect different result”.
However, @fabulouskelechi, who noted that the options provided by Saturday PUNCH in its poll were not enough, said, “Sack them and resign, this list is incomplete. Add resign to it…”
According to @sf_adebayo, beyond sacking the service chiefs, the government should order their probe.
“Sack them all. Arrest and investigate them,” the Twitter user said.
Recently, the Federal Government raised the alarm that Boko Haram’s alliance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria increased the possibility of it (Boko Haram) deploying chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive attacks in the future.
On January 8, the convoy of the theatre commander in charge of the military taskforce in the North-East, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, was attacked by the insurgents. A driver attached to the commander was said to have been killed while two other soldiers were injured.
Also, between January 17 and 18, no fewer than 17 soldiers were said to have been killed while many others were abducted by the insurgents in two confrontations with troops on the Bama-Gwoza Highway.
Even though the Nigerian Army dismissed the report as false, the insurgents were also said to have carted away some arms, ammunition and vehicles belonging to the Nigerian Army.
More soldiers were said to have been killed in recent times by the insurgents.
Also, on Christmas Day, the terrorists killed 11 Christian hostages, saying their action was to avenge the killing of their leaders, Abu bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, in Iraq and Syria.
On Monday, January 20, as well, the insurgents beheaded the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev Lawan Andimi, whom they had earlier abducted.
The CAN Chairman in Adamawa State, Rev Fr Dami Mamza, told journalists that the insurgents had demanded €2m before they could release Andimi, but that they were offered N50m, which they rejected before they killed the cleric. He noted that negotiations were ongoing when they got information that he had been killed.
On January 26, the insurgents also bombed a mosque in Gwoza, Borno State, killing a 12-year-old and leaving many injured.
No fewer than 13 persons were killed on Monday in a fresh attack by gunmen in the Bokos Local Government Area of Plateau State. This came barely two weeks after suspected Fulani herdsmen killed 12 people in the Mangu Local Government Area of the state.
Last week, a renowned alternative therapist, Alhaji Fatai Yusuf, aka Okooloyun, was shot dead on the Eruwa-Igboora Road in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State.
Yusuf was said to be on his way from an outing around 4.30pm when gunmen shot at his vehicle.
Also, bandits on January 16 killed 31 people in two separate attacks.
While 29 people were killed at the Babban Rafi village in the Gummi Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Tuesday, two health workers were also killed at Makosa village in the Zurmi Local Government Area of the state.
The attacks occurred the day before Governor Bello Matawalle, at the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Gusua, the state capital, on Wednesday, warned unrepentant bandits to surrender their arms.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Usman Nagoggo, on January 8, said no fewer than 6,319 people were killed by bandits in the state in 2019.
Also, the village head of Rumache in Kukoki Ward, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, Ahmad Yakubu, was killed by gunmen last week while 17 others were abducted in four other communities of the state.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has repeatedly claimed that Boko Haram has been “technically” defeated as the President corroborated this at the Armed Forces emblem launching in Abuja on October 16 when he said “the Boko Haram terrorists have been substantially defeated and degraded to the extent that they are only daring soft targets.”
Apparently shocked by a spate of killings by the insurgents in recent times, Buhari said on Tuesday when he received a delegation of Eminent and Respected Citizens of Niger State led by Governor Abubakar Bello, in the State House, Abuja, that the recent activities of the terrorist group were surprising.
He had said, “During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising. It is not ethnicity or religion, rather it is one evil plan against the country. We have to be harder on them. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security.”
Also, the European Parliament in its resolution of January 16 said there had not been progress made in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
And following renewed attacks that have led to the killing of more soldiers and civilians, including women and children, the National Assembly had asked the President to sack the service chiefs or ask them to resign from.office.
At the upper chamber, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, led the discourse by seeking the restructuring of the security architecture while some other senators asked the President to sack the service chiefs. And in a rather different twist, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, called on the President to resign, a call that angered some senators loyal to Buhari.
Insecurity: PDP reports Buhari, S’ Court to US, UK
Meanwhile, leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party and members in the National Assembly on Friday stormed the United States Embassy and United Kingdom High Commission in Abuja to protest against the security challenges facing the country as well as the January 14 judgment of the Supreme Court sacking Emeka Ihedioha as Imo State governor.
The Supreme Court declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for last year’s governorship poll, Hope Uzodinma, as the rightful winner of the election.
The PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, submitted their petitions to the two embassies.
Secondus told reporters after submitting the petitions that Buhari must resign because of his government’s inability to protect the citizens, alleging that his regime had lost control of the country’s security.
He claimed Nigeria had the highest number of internally displaced persons in Africa.
Secondus said, “There is a need for the international community to come to the assistance of our dear country because Nigeria is a member of the comity of nations. Nigeria is not an island. It is a member of the United Nations. When things go wrong, the international community can come to advise; that is why we are here.
“The contents of our petition are for the international community to come to the aid of Nigeria and to advise our government to obey the rule of law, especially as it relates to the National Assembly and the judiciary.
“Over the past few weeks, we have passed through very difficult and challenging times. The case in question is Imo State. We have submitted our petition. We have addressed a press conference
“As we speak, Mr President has lost control of security. Our nation is in danger. We are in pain and we are in trouble. As a party, we cannot keep our hands crossed and be waiting for the propaganda of the Presidency. This country belongs to all Nigerians. Today, we backed our Senate Minority Leader (Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe) asking and demanding that Buhari should resign because he has lost control absolutely. It is not the time for propaganda and it is not time for the Presidency to respond to issues that are very sensitive and germane to the foundation of our country.
“The issue is that our people are dying and are in hunger. You cannot travel from Abuja to Kaduna, you cannot go to Minna, you cannot go on the road.
The PDP in their letters of protest titled, ‘Perversion of justice: Deliberate efforts at truncating democracy in Nigeria’, to the US Ambassador, Mary Leonard, and the UK High Commissioner, alleged that there was a miscarriage of justice in the Supreme Court judgment.
The party also alleged that the executive arm and the ruling APC had been influencing the outcomes of election petitions in various courts.
The party said, “On January 14, 2020, the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad Tanko, in a most bizarre judgment and against the dictates of all laws and judicial practice, overturned the Imo State governorship election clearly won by Emeka Ihedioha/PDP, who had been sworn in, and handed the state over to the APC and its candidate, Hope Uzodinma.
“It is instructive to inform you that this perversion of justice has already sparked protests in various parts of our country and has become a clear threat to peace, unity and stability of our nation and the survival of our democracy.”
The PDP called on the US and UK to take more than a passing glance to this serious issue in order to avoid an imminent breakdown of law and order.
Ex-security chiefs back call for service chiefs’ sacking
Retired military and police officers, as well as other security experts advised the Federal Government to overhaul the counter-insurgency operation and acquire high-grade weapons for the military.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an ex-general noted that the retention of the service chiefs by Buhari had affected the morale of service personnel.
He said the counter-insurgency war was not recording progress because “there are no new ideas.”
The general added, “The call for the sacking of the service chiefs is very justified. If a service chief stays in office for three years, and if an officer is presented for promotion, he cannot be promoted for those three years.
“The situation has affected a lot of us and it led to our retirement from service; many others were also stagnated on their ranks.”
He added, “I advise the President to review the war and replace the service chiefs with new hands. We are having problems in the North-East because there are no new ideas. How can a man from the North-East as the Chief of Staff be there and there are so much killings in his area.
A retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Austin Iwar, said the service chiefs could be replaced if they had exhausted their capacity, adding that replacing them with new hands was in order if the new hands could bring new inspiration into the war.
He stated, “I think it is good to try new hands. If these people have stayed for too long and there is a lot of noise about their capacity. I believe they are very committed, but whether they have exhausted their capacity is the issue. And if they have exhausted it, we should look for new hands that can bring new inspiration into the war.”
A retired Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu, advised the government to consider the demands of the lawmakers and act accordingly.
He said, “The service chiefs were appointed in line with the rules of engagement, the Armed Forces Act and the constitution. If Nigerians are asking for a change of service chiefs, the government should look into it and find out whether the call is legitimate and backed by facts and act as necessary.”
He said it would be unnerving if the terrorists could produce rockets, adding that the security forces must increase their intelligence capability and stop such ‘strange development.’
Also, a security expert and senior researcher at the Transnational Threats and International Crime Programme, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa, Dr Akinola Ejodame Olojo, said to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram and ISWAP’s capacity and capability to build rockets, the FG must urgently supply the military with high-grade weapons.