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There were indications yesterday that the Department of State Service (DSS) may soon arrest Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, and others following revelations in the ongoing probe of terrorists’ negotiator, Tukur Mamu.

This is coming amid calls from different quarters for the DSS to arrest and investigate Gumi over his utterances about the arrest of Mamu, his media consultant.

This is even as the director general of DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, has said the secret police will go after all subversive elements creating problems in Nigeria.

The director-general of the DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, stated this in Abuja while marking the end of his first term and the beginning of his second term as the head of the secret service.

The DSS boss said the Service is already compiling dossiers of those creating tension and threatening the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria and would soon clampdown on them.

More so, a DSS source told LEADERSHIP Weekend that Gumi has been going around preaching against the arrest and detention of Mamu, a development, he said, could make him a person of interest.

The source who did not want his name in print wondered why “Mamu who is a close associate of Gumi was found with $151,000, military accoutrements, gun magazines and other incriminating items and yet Gumi is talking about his release instead of allowing justice take its cause”.

Also, a civil society organisation, the Coalition for Peace in Nigeria (COPIN) called on the Service to, as a matter of urgent national importance, investigate and possibly arrest Gumi over alleged romance with bandits/terrorists.

“This is more so that Mamu, the bandits’ negotiator, is the undisputed spokesperson for the Kaduna-based influential Islamic cleric,” the group said.

Court Grants DSS’ Request To Detain Mamu For 60 Days

In a statement jointly signed by the national coordinator of COPIN, Pharmacist Emeka Akwuobi, and national secretary, Hajiya Fatih Yakub, the peace advocacy group said Gumi has a lot of explanations to offer on the activities of bandits, especially those operating within the North West general area.

According to COPIN, Gumi should ordinarily be a person of interest, considering his open fraternity with bandits and kidnappers threatening national security, as well as his persistent call on the federal government to grant the terror elements amnesty.

The group further noted that the arrest of Gumi is fundamental to a peaceful election, considering the fact that he will provide the Service with credible/actionable intelligence on the actual locations and modus operandi of the terrorists, culminating in their arrest.

The group threatened to organise a peaceful protest in Abuja and other cities should the intelligence agency fail to invite Gumi for interrogation.

The statement reads in part: “We have watched with keen interest the provocative tendencies of Sheikh Gumi, especially as they relate to the activities of bandits/terrorists operating within the the North West general area.

“We note, with concern, Gumi’s call for grant of amnesty to terrorists, who have killed and maimed thousands of unarmed civilians, including women and children.

“Of particular interest is the kidnap of over one hundred Abuja/Kaduna train passengers by the terrorists in April this year, many of whom are still being held under terrible conditions.

“As a peace advocacy group, we condemn all these evil acts perpetrated by the terror group, and other enemies of state operating under whatever name, as we insist that nobody, or group has the right to take arms against the State, regardless of their grievances.

“Consequently, we demand the immediate arrest and interrogation of Gumi who, by now, should be a person of interest to all intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

“We will not hesitate to mobilise for peaceful protests in strategic cities, including Abuja, if the DSS fail to invite the Islamic Cleric for interview on all he knows about bandits/terrorists holding the North West states, and parts of North Central, to ransom.”

LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that Mamu had been leading the negotiation with bandits for the release of the Abuja-Kaduna train passengers the terrorists kidnapped in March.

The terrorist negotiator was arrested on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, with his two wives at Cairo International Airport while awaiting a connecting flight to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj.

They were deported to Nigeria and the DSS operatives picked them up on arrival at the Aminu Kano International Airport.

Following his arrest, the DSS raided his residence where military uniforms and a large stash of foreign currencies and denominations were allegedly found.

Army Vows To Crush Those Fueling Crisis

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Faruk Yahaya, has read the riot act to those fueling crisis in the country, saying the Army remains resolved to ensure all peace-loving Nigerians go about their legitimate businesses and live their lives without fear or intimidation.

The COAS who stated this during the closing ceremony of the Chief of Army Staff 3rd quarter 2022 conference in Abuja said following military efforts the state of security in the country will continue to improve in the days ahead.

He stated: “I wish to inform the public that the Nigerian Army would continue to work closely with other security agencies to provide peaceful environment. Let me seize this opportunity to advise those fueling crises in various parts of the Country to desist from their unpatriotic acts.

“I strongly advise them to retrace their steps as the Nigerian Army, within the ambit of rule of law, will continue to ensure that all peace-loving citizens of this Country go about their legitimate businesses and live their lives without fear or intimidation.

“I expect that with the improved support we have in terms of logistics and other key combat enablers, we should strive to decisively and quickly defeat the adversaries in all theatres of operations. There is no doubt that with our efforts in collaboration with Sister Services and other security agencies, the state of security in the country will continue to improve in the days ahead. I therefore urge all commanders to remain committed, more so that the 2023 electioneering would soon commence”.

He tasked commanders to ensure efficient security of arms and ammunition, adding that they must ensure subordinates are educated on the reviewed Nigerian Army rules of engagement and code of conduct for Operation Safe Conduct.

He said, “Commanders are equally reminded of the need to emplace stringent measures to maintain efficient security of arms and ammunition. Additionally, the directive on the reviewed Nigerian Army Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct for Operation SAFE CONDUCT should be adhered to strictly by all during the electioneering period.

“Thus, commanders must ensure that subordinates are educated on the guidelines provided in the document. Commanders must also ensure the professional conduct of troops and resist any distraction and attempt by misguided elements to disrepute the image of the Nigerian Army. All must remain professional and apolitical in conduct all through Op SAFE CONDUCT”.

He reiterated that the Nigerian Army, under his leadership, remains loyal to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and to Mr President who is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

On the welfare of troops, he said the Army is developing a robust programme to enhance the rehabilitation and resuscitation of personnel that are disabled due to injuries from operations.

We Don’t Employ Arson Against Terrorists, Military Tells Rights Group

Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has dismissed Amnesty International report that Nigerian soldiers employ arson as operational tactics against the Boko Haram Terrorists, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the North East.

The director, Defence Information (DDI), Major General Jimmy Akpor, described the report as ‘ another falsified report by Amnesty International (AI) in a campaign of calumny targeting the Nigerian military and deliberately supporting the callous acts of terrorism perpetuated by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP)’.

The report alleged employment of unlawful tactics of razing down villages and unlawful detention of locals by troops.

In a statement he issued yesterday, he said, “This is in line with the AI’s usual mannerism and tenacious efforts aimed at disparaging the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).”

He noted that the allegations being touted by AI “is nothing but a betrayal of its lack of in-depth knowledge of the goings-on in the North East (NE) theatre of operation.

“It is expedient to state that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole who are conducting Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Operations in the NE do not employ arson as an operational tactic.

“It is a well-known fact, going by the modus operandi of BHTs, that they have more often than not engaged in the atrocious acts of looting and burning of villages, as well as destroying infrastructures. It therefore, beats one’s imagination that AI is attributing these atrocities to AFN troops who are legitimately defending the country guided by extant rules of engagement and operational codes of conduct,” he added.

He said AI must understand the fact that Nigeria is at war against terrorism in the NE and that the troops have a constitutional mandate to protect lives and property, even if it means conducting an evacuation to save and secure lives of civilians in the conflict.

“Protecting civilians by evacuating them from the line of fire during combat is not a violation of the international law of conflict or a war crime. It is rather a commendable effort by the troops to prevent collateral damage during combat. Our troops should therefore be commended for making deliberate efforts to evacuate civilians in order to protect their lives and property.

“It is also crucial to point out, that troops deployed to fight terrorism in the NE do not attack or raze down villages, communities or settlements, rather they launch offensive on terrorists camps, enclaves and hide outs,” he noted.

North East Governors Meet In Gombe, Say End To Boko Haram In Sight

Meanwhile, governors of the North East states have declared that the war against insurgency is being won, signaling an end to Boko Haram, as members of the sect now surrender on a daily basis.

Chairman of the North East Governors Forum and governor of Borno State, Umaru Babagana Zulum, stated this yesterday during the 7th meeting of the forum held at Government House Gombe.

According to him, about 100,000 members of the violent group have repented.

He said the Borno State government received intelligence that since the death of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram members have been surrendering, adding that the government capitalised on that and set in motion “non-kinetic approach” to ending their menace.

Zulum said, “The Boko Haram phenomenon has been gradually fizzling away, both in scope and intensity as a result of some deliberate steps we have taken to that effect.

“These steps were largely informed by credible intelligence we had received that some Boko Haram members were contemplating repentance and surrender, following the death of their leader, Abubakar Shakau.

“We capitalised on this intelligence and immediately set in motion a non-kinetic policy of ending the insurgency by encouraging and incentivising those willing and ready to surrender.

“Our non-kinetic approach was so successful that from the initial few insurgents who surrendered, the number of those willing to surrender began to increase exponentially. Today we have hundreds of repentant Boko Haram members who are surrendering on a daily basis”.

He added that this is the first time since the deadly insurgency began that Boko Haram insurgents are freely and spontaneously laying down their arms and giving up the fight.

He noted that from all indications, it appears to be the beginning of the end of the insurgency.

The governor continued: “We have already taken various strategic measures to encourage all of them to do so. So far, we have been camping thousands of them in Maiduguri, Bama and Gwoza among other places. In all, we have close to a 100,000 repentant Boko Haram members in the camps”.

The governor noted that Borno State government is currently considering reintegrating these repentant insurgents in their respective communities or any other convenient place without unnecessarily triggering old fears and stoking embers of vengeance from among the people who had at one time or another been the victims of their atrocities.

Zulum lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his resolve and determination to end the insurgency, even as he commended the military and other security agencies for their sacrifices and relentless efforts to deal with all forms of insecurity in the region.

He promised to continue to provide all the necessary assistance in the form of logistics and other essential requirements for them.

On his part, the chief host and Gombe State governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, observed that some of the challenges that necessitated the formation of the North East Governors’ Forum (NEGF) still persist, calling for sustained synergy to tackle the lingering issues.

Governor Yahaya listed some of the lingering issues to include “Boko Haram insurgency and the resultant humanitarian crisis; evolving security threats posed by criminal activities like banditry and kidnapping; climate change disasters, especially the recent floods and their debilitating effects on the livelihoods of our people; staggering infrastructure deficit as well as the sorry state of human capital development in our subregion.

“Other contemporary issues of common concern also make this meeting particularly important”, the governor added, noting that over the past two years, the forum has developed the understanding, conviction, steadfastness, and cooperation needed to address the common problems undermining the growth and development of our subregion.

“We have been able to collectively engage, mobilize and sensitize stakeholders at the highest level both nationally and internationally,”, he said.

Governor Yahaya described the formation of the NEGF as a tremendous success where for the first time in the history of the zone, governors of the sub-region were able to forge a common front for the overall benefit of the people irrespective of ethnic, religious or political considerations.

He observed that the presence of governors in the 7th edition of the North East Governors Forum meeting symbolises the growing strength of cooperation, collaboration and cordial relationship among the governors of the six states of the subregion.

“To borrow from Nigeria’s first national anthem: ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’ Our strength lies in the sheer determination of each and everyone of us to set aside primordial differences in order to pursue a common vision aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of our people,” he stated.

Governor Inuwa Yahaya further remarked that the 7th edition of the North East Governors Forum is coming at a time when the region and the entire country continue to grapple with multiple challenges that require urgent solutions.

He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his untiring commitment and strong leadership towards the security and stability of the North-East subregion and Nigeria at large.

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