By Ogbaniko Orunugoga
Historians the world over agree that the original home of the Fulani people is Futa Jallon in the Republic of Guinea. The Fulani are thought to have migrated from North Africa and the Middle East in ancient times, settling in the Futa Jallon Mountains and inter-marrying with the local population. The second known home of the Fulani is Futa Toro, by the banks of the Senegal River in the current nation of Senegal.
Today, the Fulani number about 20 million worldwide. They are spread all over West and Central Africa, particularly Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Niger, Sudan, Chad, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and the Gambia. Their population is between 7 and 8 million in their original homeland in Guinea.
The Fulani who once enjoyed great political power as founders of empires are today largely powerless. Despite the fact that they constitute the single largest ethnic majority in their original homeland of Guinea, they have never enjoyed political power in that country. The ethnic composition of Guinea, according to recent estimates is as follows: Fula (Fulani) – 41%; Madinka-33%; Susu-12%; Kissi – 5%; Kpelle – 5% and others -4%.
Ever since independence from the French, Sekou Toure, an ethnic Madinka, ruled the Country with an iron hand. He was particularly hard on the Fula, whom he accused of plotting with the French to undermine his government. One of the prominent casualties was Diallo Telli, a Fula. He was the pioneer Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity,OAU before becoming Minister of Justice under Sekou Toure. In March 1977, Toure accused him of being the arrowhead of the Fula plot to overthrow him. He was thrown into prison where he died a gruesome death.
One of the closest to grabbing power was the brilliant Fula economist and Banker, Cellou Dalein Diallo. He had been Prime Minister under the late Lansana Conte where he acquitted himself as an effective administrator. He has become a rallying point of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea
Subsequent rulers of the country from Louis Lansana Beavogui, Lansana Conte, Moussa Dadis Camara and the incumbent Alpha Conde, have all been non Fula. It would seem that all the other ethnic groups have ganged up to ensure that a fula will never rule over them. The Madinka, the Susu and others believe the Fula are a highly clannish and racist group and that once they seize power, they would turn the rest of them into slaves in their own ancestral homeland.
Perhaps this explains why the Fulani have turned their attention to Nigeria. It also explains the boast by the Fulani that Nigeria is their God given domain. This dream was enunciated in the treatise expounded by Usman Dan Fodio’s son and heir, Mohammed Bello on the jihad carried out by his father.
In his treatise known as “Infakul Maisuri”, Bello articulated the Caliphate’s imperial hegemony over some of the areas of the middle belt. For instance, Bello projects Zazzau’s sway all the way to the entire Gbagyi country, the Bassa plains in lower Benue and as far as Idah in Igala country. He imagined his imperial sway to include the Niger-Benue confluence zone of the middle belt. Mohammed Bello even told the British Colonialist, Hugh Clapperton:”I will give the King of England a place on the coast to build a town…God has given me all the lands of the infidels.”
Sultan Bello’s imperial vision was not an idle fantasy but a part of a strategic, cartographic and discursive exercise that is beginning to manifest in the concurrent invasion and pillage of the middle belt zones that effectively and heroically resisted the 1804 -1817 invasions carried out under the guise of a holy war.
The Fulani thus always remember the great success of the Fulani Jihad led by Usman Dan Fodio and his son, Mohammed Bello. They believe that if they cannot establish hegemonic power in their own homeland then they have a right to turn to Nigeria, a land they believed was given to them by God Almighty himself.
Till date, the Fulani believe that they can still take over the entirety of Nigeria and do whatever they want. In a communiqué issued after its meeting in Kano on January 13th, 2018, the Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, also claimed that “all over the world, Nigeria is the only country given to Fulani by God”.
They are encouraged by the fact that their population in Nigeria has surpassed that of their original homeland in Guinea. It is under this false illusion that the Fulani believe that they can come from across the border with their cattle and the next day, have a right to demand land for settlement.
The Fulani refuse to recognize that under the ECOWAS protocol on the movement of peoples, visitors from our region can live for only three months as visitors. If they plan to live beyond the statutory 3 months, they have to apply to regularize their stay. Instead, recent Fulani emigrants believe that they can come today and tomorrow demand all the rights and privileges appertaining to all bona fide citizens. Worse off is the fact that they are ready to kill and maim in order to achieve their inordinate ambitions.
Not only that, they are now laying legal claims to ancestral lands belonging to the peoples of Benue, Taraba, Plateau and the rest of the middle belt region. Before the arrival of the British, the Fulani spearheaded raids throughout the Middle Belt zone of Nigeria in a bid to capture slaves and for material booty, land and conquest. The peoples of the Middle Belt heroically resisted them.
Usman Dan Fodio himself was wounded in April 1817 by the Tivs of which he later died. The death of Usman Dan Fodio weakened the Fulani conquerors and was a great setback to the furtherance of the Fulani desires to own the entire Savannah region which forms the middle belt zone of Nigeria today. The caliphate was however strengthened to lord it over the entire northern Nigeria by the British.
Thus it came about that Emirates were created in areas that were 99% non moslem especially areas such as Jema’s, Lafia, Keffi, Jere and Wase. They even touted the creation of emirates for Makurdi and Jos! Where they could not create new emirates, the people were placed under the tutelage of Caliphal feudal overlords. A good example is the Tiv people, who for many years in the 1950s and 60s, were placed under the tutelage of the Emir of Muri
Oral history has it that as a result of the injury and subsequent death of Usman Dan Fodio, the Fulani Jihadists were forced to terminate their mission towards the south east. They also reached a truce with the Tiv which led to a relationship known as “abokanin wasa” (playmates) whereby the Tiv and the Fulani refer to themselves as ‘cousins’.
But unknown to the Tiv, this relationship for over a century did not erase the bitter memory of the defeat and especially the death of their great leader, Othman Dan Fodio. They held back and waited for the right time,right opportunity and the right leader.
Akwa Ibom – Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Prime Investment Destination
By Udeme Etukeyen
Seen from afar, Nigeria is one large African nation and the continent’s most robust economy, but within the powerhouse that Nigeria represents there are several engines that drive the economy. Best known is Lagos State, which includes Nigeria’s largest city and economic capital, but beyond there a less known success stories that merit global attention.
Of Nigeria’s 36 states, debatably the most impressive is Akwa Ibom state, led by Governor Udom Emmanuel, elected only three years ago. Just last month Governor Emmanuel commissioned seven new roads with 34 additional roads planned to provide over 2000 jobs to the state and stimulate commerce among Akwa Ibom’s population of four million.
A noted adherent of impact investing, Emmanuel selects projects for his state that add value beyond the sums marked on contracts or the profit margins racked up by contractors. Public benefit must be calculated in far more sensitive and inclusive terms, and Governor Emmanuel’s Sustainable Development Agenda over the last 1096 days does just that.
With Africa’s 65% of its land still unexploited and food imports debilitating local economies, Akwa Ibom’s developmental finance strategy included a technical committee on agriculture and food sufficiency which broadened the “Dakkada” mindset in youth people, women and the elderly. With increased acreage of cultivated land growing by over 40,000 hectares comprising now 11,000 hectares earmarked for an ongoing coconut plantation, 24,000 hectares for new rice projects including two rice mills, 3,000 hectares of cassava lantations with rehabilitated processing facilities for garri, cassava pellets, flour, and ethanol, and the rehabilitation of competitive oil palm and cocoa estates, Akwa Ibom’s position as a leading food producer and exporter in Nigeria is assured.
The state government has facilitated thousands of high yield seedlings of oil palm, plantain suckers, maize and citrus seeds to ensure optimal source of farm input for its local population. The state policy on agriculture is firmly hinged on mitigating food scarcity, ensuring food sufficiency and security which impacts over a million households.
The Ibom Greenhouse Project has induced export capabilities for vegetables, tomatoes, cucumber, encouraging a massive response by young farmers to take up various forms of agriculture as a new economic mainstay. The government via partnerships with investors has also established a fertilizer blending plant at Abak, a meat processing facility project at Itam, a cattle ranch at Adadia, and an Akwa prime hatchery at Mbiaya and other strategic agribusinesses and related technical services.
To date over 20,000 hectares of land have been cleared providing businesses and economic activity for equipment owners, farmers, input producers and direct/indirect jobs for households within the state and beyond. Akwa Ibom is positioned to feed her people and indeed the nation, making Akwa Ibom an attractive investment destination for those interested in the agribusiness sector.
The innovative industrialization policy of Akwa Ibom State merits some comment too. Leading a much-needed and highly progressive departure from an epoch of oil revenue dependency and federal allocations Akwa Ibom state has understood that the key to industrialization is increasing power generation. The governor has seen to this by securing additional licensing for the state-owned power company increasing capacity from 190MW to 685MW, unlocking distribution via massive investment in substations and feeder lines, and installing a network of new power infrastructure around the state enabling parts of the state capital with 15-18 hours of power per day.
Dedicated lines and infrastructure have targeted special projects such as the airport, the Ibom Specialty Hospital and the industrial clusters in Onna, Uyo and Itu.
With both road and power infrastructure being addressed, the state government has pursued its first phase of its ambitious industrialization agenda by delivering an Electric Digital Metering Plant providing metering solutions that unbundle the legitimate concerns of investors, namely tracking power tariffs.
The state is also proud of its strategic investment in syringe manufacturing with capacity large enough to cater to Africa’s 2.4 billion-strong demand for syringes by producing 350 million units with capacity to upscale to 1 billion, adequate to cater for both local and international markets.
The state has also increased progress in a proposed flour mill within the Onna Industrial Cluster.
Hundreds of Akwa Ibom daughters and sons have been trained abroad to take up various technical and managerial aspects of these investments as part of the 350-strong human-power needs of the cluster.
As part of the overall vision, companies like the Peacock Paints Factory in Etinan have received fresh funding and rehabilitation, several state-owned enterprises and assets have become the prize possession of new investors who’ve encouraged that resources be assigned to business development from the state’s investment structure.
The recent establishment of the Itu Cluster which houses the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES) has promoted the creation and opening of a state-of-the-arts toothpick factory, pencil production and particle wood processing facility as well as bamboo conversion facilities increasing economic impact with 200 new, direct jobs and 400-500 indirect jobs, and creating foreign exchange opportunities with these products as exports.
With several MOUs and EOIs in place, the state continues to be the second highest destination for FDI in Nigeria, and prospects for growth in the SME sector look promising. International development agencies and the private sector are both positioned to forge the development of the state’s growing MSME sector. As negotiations result in executable action the huge FDI gap between Lagos and Akwa Ibom states lessens while under-developed opportunities in the later promise to render Akwa Ibom an increasingly attractive investment destination.
OVERALL SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT
In creating the Economic Strategy and Investment Plan, Governor Emmanuel has been clear in stating that a major plank of his government would be to harness developmental projects that would deliver maximum returns on investment and create employment opportunities for the people of the state while catalyzing food production. His vision for the future is “to transform the economy of our state via industrialization and sustain public-private-sector initiatives, and thereby opening up opportunities for growth and improved living standards,” the governor stated, “and to continuously develop, mobilize, and empower our women and youth via planned and well-articulated capacity-building programmes…” The state’s target, he said was to “provide trade, commerce and tourism between Akwa Ibom and the rest of Nigeria, and in fact, the rest of the world.”
Corruption in the Military: Threat to Peace and Security
By Oga Tom Uhia, First published January 2015
That the Nigerian Armed Forces is very corrupt is no more news. What is news is the level to which corrupt practices through what the late Nigerian music icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti had called “ARMY ARRANGEMENT” have brought her image to disrepute by the most recent revelations which revealed that the top echelon of the services are the greatest obstacle to the wining of war against Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast. The officers and men of the Armed Forces by their actions have further lowered the already damaged image of the country and brought the nation to her knee. It is despicable how commanders who should be role models to their troops have allowed their fellow human beings under their commands to be left unprotected and defenceless with no other option than to abandon their duty posts and camps and flee for their dear lives from the hands of their enemies for selfish reasons and then turned back to challenge them for not winning battles over more superior and better armed enemies. Their quests and large appetites for ill-gotten wealth is said to have been enlarged by the day while their visions have been blinded to the values and ethics of their profession.
Swathes of territory have been under attack lately from rebels’ forces, the Nigerian army, centred in the North East theatre of war, are seen to be fighting asymmetrical war where they are without weapons, (or inadequately armed) and are compelled to follow orders from a corrupt and inept military command that is more interested in playing politics of wealth creation and gamble with the lives of their troops than win the war against the insurgents.
This must have been responsible for the unending spade of attacks by the insurgents in the North East. The insurgency in that part of Nigeria is not an out of the space phenomenon after all. From America to Europe, Asia to Middle East, and across Africa, everywhere in the world today is war of terror. It is definitely not an insurmountable issue for the Nigerian army. It is a simple warfare that could be contained by the Armed Forces within days and weeks given their previous record of performance in foreign engagements.
The Nigerian Armed Forces is capable of containing the Boko Haram terrorism if given the right environment and equipment, backed up by political will of our leaders to operate.
Unfortunately there are two major obstacles to democratic stability in Nigeria today; the Executive and military corruption. Most Nigerians are of the view that the military in the first place has been a hindrance to the development of democracy in Nigeria since independence because their long incursion and usurpation of political power (of the country’s fifty four years of independence the military have been in power for an aggregate of thirty seven years against fifteen years of democracy) and had prevented and still have carry-over effect on the cultivation of democratic culture and values by Nigerians.
Regardless of the apparent necessity for the initial military interventions in the Nigerian politics, it is now very clear that subsequent coups and the prolonged stay of the military in power was due to political ambition of the coup makers and not, for the national interest of salvaging the country from total collapse. The military is believed to be self-serving, selfish and unwilling to liberate the country from its strong hold of corruptive culture. This military culture or tradition that thrives on secrecy, intimidation and suppression has now rubbed off on our political system where today mostly retired military officers are groomed for political office holding rather than the defence of the territorial integrity of the nation. Most of the military officers who got into the system from the 70s up to 90s and till date never expected they were trained to fight wars. They enlisted into the armed forces hoping to hold political offices and at worst retired and join politics afterwards. They have succeeded in carrying-on their corruptive tendencies into civil rule. The discipline for which the military use to be known for has today become high level Army corruption and political power game.
When Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu attempted to seize power in a coup d’état of January 15, 1966, the first shot he fired into the air was aimed at the self-seeking and corrupt brigadage that had become the lifestyle of public office holders in Nigeria. He did not include the Nigerian Armed Forces then. Little did he know that the shot was aimed and fired at his own foot, the Nigerian Armed Forces, his own constituency which unfortunately had in the later years became the bane of a nation’s development.
His first address to the nation was instructive then, even as it is today; “our enemies are the political profiteers (sic) (now political soldiers), swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand ten percent…. “those that have corrupted our society and put Nigeria back by their words and deeds.” Today, that statement is the perfect description of the Nigerian military attitude, whether in uniforms or out of it.
For good measure, Major Nzeogwu had warned and recommended that “embezzlement, bribery or corruption…. Are all offences punishable by death.” Sadly enough the Nigerian Armed Forces, Nzeogwu’s immediate constituency whom he as a young and dynamic officer may have spoken for are the worst culprits and the very group of people that have today corrupted and influenced our society negatively and put Nigeria down to her knee by “their words and deeds.” Nobody have been able to investigate, prosecute and even kill them as recommended by late Major Nzeogwu. General Murtala Mohammed who attempted to correct the ills was stopped before he could make an impact even though his fight was directed at the civilians. Then came General Buhari in the later years, whose administration was perforated by greater corrupt practices. Definitely, as the Holy books make us to understand; “the wages of sin is death.” All these officers, whether arrested, tried, convicted or not, Muslims and Christians will one day account for their deeds in the hereafter. Nigerian military is already adjudged to be self-seeking and very corrupt, a fact known to the whole world, so why then should their high command be angry over what is true rather than make amend and prove to the public otherwise. Only the military itself and perhaps President Muhammadu Buhari who is himself a military general retired have not realized this. The military sees itself as all knowing which is why they see any other person as “bloody” nobody even in a democratic dispensation. “The Nigerian military is self-centred, self-serving and all-knowing,” collaborated an officer who does not want his name mentioned. Military corruption is so difficult to tackle because their issues are related to security and demand urgent attention and top-most secrecy. And because of the nature of their service to the nation, their procurement exercises are not openly advertised and cannot be streamlined and investigated, holistically probed even with the present FoI Acts. The most lenient commander will never allow the press to beam its lights on the affairs of the military. The press is their worst enemies. No civil action can ever compel the authority to be civil because of the regimented nature of the profession. All informations are classified, shredded in secrecy and concealed under arms and sealed-lips similar to cultism. Apart from their corrupt practices which is done with reckless abandon, the military corruption is done with top most secrecy – Wait for your time!.
The links between the military corruption and insecurity are rightly gaining increased global attention, though the traits have always been there. In Nigeria, allegations had surfaced and resurface in recent time about how very senior military officers have now extended the frontiers of their corrupt practices from the normal embezzlement of funds to being bribed to turn a blind eye to Boko Haram insurgents to allow them prevail so that they in turn could make more money, make quick turn-over, embezzle more rations and more security votes.
In the recent time, reports are also arrift about how the Federal Government through the arrangement of the military have exchanged captured insurgents with kidnapped citizens including paying ransom for the freedom of citizens.
Although this problem may not be limited to Nigeria as recent crisis have laid bare: there were allegations that bribery in the security agencies had sometimes ago allowed terrorists to enter Westgate Mall in Kenya, allowed a whole president of a country – Chadian President Idriss Deby to collaborate with criminals and fraudsters to surchange and lie about the release of the Chibok girls and that the Iraqi Army crumbled in front of ISIS because they were so hollowed out by corruption.
But the case of the Nigeria’s insecurity and corruption as twin partners in crime is a very peculiar one. There are myriad of undefended allegations against the Nigerian military high command ranging from undefended allegation from the Amnesty International to even IDPs in Nigeria, partial/bias posting of personnel, multiple and counter multiple operational commands that are counterproductive at very crucial and decisive moments that have brought about the defeat of troops severally, purchases of inferior arms and ammunitions by military high command that have malfunctioned; refuse to fire thereby endangering the lives of both the soldiers and those that they are paid to defend and protect, embezzlement of RCA (Ration Cash Allowance) by arbitrary deductions from the defence HQ to the GOC and Field Commanders’ level, short changing the troops in the maintenance and pool/fuelling money and many more. In too many places the public no longer trusts the security and defence forces that are supposed to protect them because their consciences have been mortgaged by their large appetite for money-making at the expense of the people’s lives.
The insurgency in the North Eastern part of Nigeria is believed to be purely man made, a self-inflicting curse that has been made a good business for some group of people while the ordinary citizens are bearing the brunt. It has become so profitable and good enough business for those neck-deep in the “blood” money making business that they desire to continue is unending. It is alleged to have become so profitable for those in government and those in the corridors of power alike; service chiefs, GOCs, Battalion and Brigade Commanders have all profited from it.
In those days when it was believed that you have to belong to certain corps like the Finance and S&T or Logistics in the military to make money, but today it is different. Even the infantry, Artillery or Armour make as much money across-board. They are all alleged to be enjoying the game while it lasted at the expense of other human lives and will never allow such opportunities of making such money elude them. Rather they are alleged to be fanning the embers of crisis particularly in the North East to enable them perpetrate their evil agendas at the expense of the other ranks and the lives of the ordinary Nigerians and make more money before retiring after which they could join politics with the ill-gotten wealth. Abuja, the Federal Capital city of Nigeria is today littered with very massive unoccupied Mansions, Castles, Houses, Hotels and Multi-billion naira mismanaged businesses owned by retired military generals from ill-gotten “blood”-money mostly from embezzlement and diversion of the troops’ allowances while still some resort to building large farms including breeding snakes and wild animals. it is a sure way to launder money. For every average senior privileged officer in the Nigerian Armed Forces today, the ultimate dream may not be to make it to the peak of their career but to build non-functional massive houses in Abuja, one hard-to-maintain country home in their villages or state capital, and save enough money to pursue political ambitions. “They have all forgotten that our God is one that visits the iniquities of the father on the children, from one generation to the fourth one.” Asserted an anonymous and aggrieved personnel. While the military high command are busy making widows and orphans out of the men and junior officers, God is watching and will definitely reward them all appropriately.” He continued
With the philosophy and mentality of a typical Nigerian military officer, riddled with bold-face deceit, blatant lies and barefaced denials of allegations which superiors officers use in suppressing both the juniors and the civilians alike by telling them to “wait for your own time”, the officers in charge will leave no stone unturned to make sure every amount of money allocated to his unit, Battalion, Platoon, Brigade is maximally converted to his personal use with no subordinate batting an eyelid. If any has the boldness to, the answer he gets is “my friend, wait for your own turn or you buy a job for himself.” And for some unfortunate ones, they are victimized, framed up and court martialled, or even silenced during operations.
So many brilliant officers who had genuine intentions to better the Nigerian military system have either been frustrated out of the system by these attitudes or eliminated. Unfortunately only mediocre make it to the top of their careers in the systems in most cases. It is only in the military system that intelligence is not encouraged and shared. “Sabi Sabi must go.” Every iota of intelligence must be hidden “until your own time comes.” Any intelligent officer who exhibits it is considered too sharp and overzealous and must be cut down. That is the Nigeria’s military theory.
Similarly, there have been a number of scandals and allegation surrounding the so-called ‘security votes’, which allows politicians and their military collaborators to appropriate billions of naira behind closed doors simply by evoking emergency security situations to justify the money voted and spent. Our Armed Forces have fully become part of this political game plans which have seen most of them at state service commander levels with cap-in-hands running after and around state Governors seeking for favours and the needed news of emergencies that would necessitate the governments to part with the voted money for the mobilization of combined forces to combat such crisis. Most times there are rivalries between the State Directors of DSS, Commissioners of Police, Commanders of Army, Air Force, Navy as the case may be and in some cases NSCDC, Immigration and so on, trying to outwit each other with relevant information that would interest the Chief Security Officers of such states. The first call, leads the team.
This is not limited to the state but also applies to the Federal level where Service Chiefs, IGP, NSA, DG DSS, Minister of Defence are all in this game of “Hustling” to survive by being the first to give out such information to the Commander-In-Chief. But first of all, you must be close to the Chief of Staff in the case of the C-In-C.
However, PowerSteering investigation has further revealed that the crisis in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa particularly has suffered major setback because of the unwillingness of some very greedy senior officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces particularly Principal Officers between the Service Chiefs, GOCs, Brigade Commanders who are hell bent on seeing that the insurgency in the North East Nigeria continues because of the financial benefit that accrue to them from the operations. These are the weaknesses that the Boko Haram sects and even the foreign aids who came in to help are known to have exploited. The Boko Haram leadership draws attention to corruption within the Armed Forces and the political system and high levels of youth unemployment to garner support outside and within the rank and files, portraying themselves as better leaders and an alternative to what the government offers. Cases of defections and AWOLS (Away without Official Leaves) are mostly by disgruntled troops (moles) in their midst who change camps and defect, to help the insurgents win this war.
When sometime in 2014 the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima made an assertion that the Nigerian Armed Forces lacked motivation needed to win the war against Boko Haram, he was heavily condemned by the military high command and the ruling government officials. But he was right. The RCA, (rational cash allowances) a soldier depends on and hopes to collect and make judicious use of after fighting under rain and shine is in the first place grossly inadequate let alone being slashed by the commanders at various levels. The military system right from the Chief of Defence Staff, the Service Chiefs to the GOCs, Brigade Commanders and Battalion will make sure they part take of it. It is touched and reduced before it finally gets to the units where the poor soldiers are paid, leaving them with little or nothing but anger and rage for neglect and abandonment. In most cases this money does not even get to the soldiers at all. One needs to visit Maiduguri, Damaturu, and Yola to truly confirm this.
In a desperate letter to former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Senate President David Mark sometimes in December 2014 and leaked to an online media, a certain commanding officer in the Nigerian Army stationed in Konduga in Nigeria’s North East region had detailed several troubling issues plaguing troops combating terror group in the region. Even though, the Army authority had come out in a press statement at that time to deny and refute the authorship of this letter, the points made therein were very relevant and germane.
The officer, and the supposed author of the letter who claimed to be Lt. Col. A. Wende had allegedly stated that corruption, maladministration, lack of resources, and low troop morale have militated against a successful campaign to end Boko Haram’s deadly reign of terror in the North East. The officer’s lengthy (10) points compliant, which he claimed would jeopardize his life as it already has, forewarned that if his pleas continued to be ignored by the country’s leadership that both the Nigerian Army and the country would crumble under the insurgency. “If all issues raised in this letter are not urgently addressed, the Nigerian Army will soon be history and by implication there will be no country called Nigeria”, the letter writer gravely stated. “No country without a strong army will survive,” he went further.
In the second point of this purported letter, the writer lamented that “the Nigerian Army is deliberately poorly equipped in the North East, if all the battalions are well-equipped as required; it will not take the Army more than two weeks to flush out the BH.” Yet the military statement disclaimed the authorship and accused the publisher of being Boko Haram collaborators who are out to discredit the sitting government and the military.
PowerSteering investigation reveals that the top echelon of the armed forces relishes on this delayed and prolonged fight against Boko Haram terrorists as they make more money in the process. “Prosecuting wars is profitable to those at the foot of the prosecution”
The longer the fight lasts, the better for the profiteers and the more money the stakeholders share. He agreed that “the Nigerian Army is well trained and capable of defending our nation but divided against itself along ethnic and religious lines. “It has demonstrated the capacity to even successful enforce peace in other nations, why not in our own country Nigeria?” the purported Col. Wende’s letter had asserted.
He also stressed the fact that beyond being poorly equipped, understaffed, the military system is highly corrupt right from the Service Headquarters down to battalion level. “Commanders see it as opportunity to make money and settle themselves for life. “My predecessor has complained of the same problem and here I am today doing the same. Instead of ASA addressing the issue raised by him, the army authorities decided to court martial him.” He said while all the units in the North East were ill-equipped and understaffed, the payroll has been on the rise in order for the “OGAS” (sic) to make more money, while watching the troops go down in numbers by the enemy’s bullets.
“The commanders see it as a personal money making venture rather than taking care of men and equipment.” He lamented how “this ugly trend led to loss of many officers and soldiers and thereby having adverse effect on the morale (sic) of troops.
Lt. Col. Wende’s supposed letter further revealed among other things, why and how “majority of the soldiers in the operation areas wears mufti (civil cloths) under their military uniforms in case there is an attack and the troops cannot withstand the BH, they found it easy to disguise as civilians to enable them escape. This revelation was replayed in the January 7th 2015 attack on Baga, fishing town of Borno State with a population of about 10,000. Where the troops had to withdraw, abandoned their base and escaped for dear their lives. It still happens today.
Information reaching us has it that Arms and Ammunitions were either in short supply or malfunction. It is alleged that the T.72 main battle tank procured during President Jonathan’s tenure from Eastern Europe by the then COAS were already malfunctioning in Bauchi and other locations where they were supplied. But the Army Headquarters rather than attend to the issues of how and who procured them had seriously warned and threatened the Armoured Corps with serious disciplinary actions if the issue was known to the public.
A soldier serving in Jos, the Plateau state capital, also told PowerSteering in an interview that many of his colleagues fled when overpowered by the dreaded and more equipped insurgents and Fulani Herdsmen in operations in Plateau and Benue States. He stated the troop’s morale was very low because they were not issued with kits, said: “we buy the kits ourselves. I bought mine.”
The soldier who does not want his name mentioned in the course of the interview alleged high level of corruption within the military hierarchy, adding that this was the reason why their complaints have not been properly and adequately attended to. He maintained that the corruption is highest under this present administration that claims to be the fighters of corruption.
Similarly, another soldier collaborated this claim after showing his medical documents that his unit was defeated by the terrorists as they could not match their sophisticated weapons, hence fled.
The soldier indicated: “We don’t have the equipment to fight insurgency. Our equipment are inferior to those of Boko Haram and our commanders and high commands are busy chopping the money while soldiers die daily. I feel very bad. In fact, my family has asked me to quit the job. Even after sustaining injury during the battle, they did not pay for my drugs.”
A young Jet Fighter Pilot I met in Maiduguri recently anxiously wants to quit the service for civil aviation piloting as it “makes more sense” to him. No risk, but more money is made. He was considering leaving the service to join any of the oil companies in the Niger-Delta.
Many of the Nigerian soldiers have been killed or critically ill due to lost battle with the insurgents in the North Eastern States of the country in the last nine years.
It was further revealed to PowerSteering that when the supplies of Ammunitions procured by the former COAS under President Goodluck Jonathan were made between June and August 2014, the corps of ordinance responsible for receiving, storing and issuance took delivery of the ammunitions, and discovered that the items supplied were outdated/obsolete and abandoned or substandard. The ammunitions were alleged to have been manufactured in 1960/61, the year of our independence which could have been even before some of our present generals were born and no more fashionable. When a certain former Corps Commander of Nigerian Army Ordinance Corps got the report from the Army Armament depot in Kaduna, he promptly notified AHQ of its discovery. Rather than commend the men and officers at the depot for this early discovery, they were instead, reprimanded and their jobs threatened while being accused of blackmailing the AHQ because they were not part of the procurement and were angry because they did not benefit from the proceeds of “Army Corruption.”
In another development, it was discovered that the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) that the former COAS procured before this present administration lacked high calibre gun mount and could not fire adequately. Most of them that were used in the Northeast war zone were abandoned at the approach of the Boko Haram insurgents, while soldiers fled for their dear lives.
It was discovered that instead of the Browning Machine Guns (BMG), that usually come with such equipment, the APC came with light machine guns which are ineffective and inferior to the BMG that the Boko Haram sect are using. Some of the APCs stationed sometimes ago at the military facilities in Jaji and other military formations developed mechanical faults after just few months of usage. In addition, the APC were alleged to lack communication gadgets.
It is also alleged that the inability of the Nigerian Army to adequately combat and win the war against insurgency in the North East geo-political zone of Nigeria was due largely to the attitudes of the past service chiefs, particularly the former Army Chief who was indifference to the whole issue especially at the peak of his career when he had nothing to loose but chosen not to bother his head about the lives and welfare of the troops when he had made enough money from the system while expecting promotion to take over from Air Marshal Alex Badeh as the Chief of Defence Staff. PowerSteering was also reliably informed that the former COAS, Lt. Gen. Minimah was anxiously expecting this promotion and change of baton to the next level as CDS before the end of 2014 when unfortunately for him the former Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces suddenly disappointed him and announced the extension of Badeh’s tenure. He was alleged to have worked at cross-purpose with the former CDS and other service chiefs just to discredit the efforts of the former CDS. The Mubi incident was alleged to be one of such act of sabotage.
Top Defence Contract Scandals of Last Decade
According to a Transparency International report, a network of Nigerian military chiefs, politicians, and contractors worked together to steal more than N3.1 trillion through arms procurement contracts between 2008 and 2017.
1. Cash in bullion vans For Special Services?
Former President Goodluck Jonathan authorised the withdrawal of N67.2 billion in cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria between November 2014 and February 2015 for “special services,” linked to defence and security operations. How the funds were used remain unclear.
2. Cash for Black market Arms in South Africa?
The South African border authorities seized $9.3 million belonging to Nigeria from two Nigerians and an Israeli who arrived the country in a private jet owned by a pastor, Ayo Oritsejafor. Customs officers discovered the money stashed in three suitcases after the suitcases were put through airport scanners. The Nigerian government later admitted the money was meant for the procurement of black market arms for the Nigerian military.
3. The Amit Sade contracts
On that day, Amit Sade, an Israeli contractor – who does not own any arms manufacturing business – working out of Nigeria was gifted a combined N5.2 billion contracts. The first was to deliver “assorted ammunition” at the cost of N2.1 billion. The other was to supply “20 units of K-38 twin hull boats” at the cost of N3.1 billion. He was paid 95 percent for the ammunition, he delivered a 63 per cent worth. On the K38 boats, he was paid 80 per cent, he delivered only 40 per cent. In the last decade, Mr. Sade, records show, was gifted another six heavy-weight military contracts worth N6.721 billion. He is alleged to have failed to deliver on any of them. He could not be reached to comment for this report. He did not reply emails sent to him, and his current location remains unknown.
4. NIA #IkoyiScandal – Defence cash stashed in defence chief’s wife’s apartment
Whistleblowers led the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to a house in upscale Ikoyi where $43.4 million was kept. The NIA director later claimed the money was meant for undisclosed special security and defence projects. Investigations are still going on and the real motive for keeping the fund in that location remained unclear.
5. Progress Limited “gift”
The ministry of defence gifted two purchase contracts to Progress Limited for the supply of 42 units of BTR-3U Armoured Personnel Carriers and spare parts for the Nigerian Army without documented contract or agreements. There was no cost negotiation between the two parties. Two years later, 26 used APCs were delivered but they broke down almost immediately after they were deployed for peacekeeping operations in Sudan.
6. N2 billion grew wings from the office of the National Security Adviser
The Nigerian government released N1.35 billion to re-stock ammunition for OPERATION BOYONA, aimed at dislodging terrorist camps along the borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Two months later, the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, requested and got approval for additional N2 billion. It does appear neither the Defence Headquarters nor the soldiers on the battlefield benefited from the second cash released to the NSA. The money is believed to have disappeared, an allegation Mr. Dasuki is denying.
7. “Urgent” N7 billion Boko Haram funds missing
Nurudeen Mohammed, the then Minister of State Foreign Affairs, requested N7 billion to urgently fund operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin. The funds were released to the National Security Adviser. It is unclear how the money was used. Officials say most were traced to companies that had no business with the Task Force. One and a half billion naira was withdrawn in cash.
8. Santa NIMASA
Between the seven months of September 2014 to April 2015, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency paid out N8.5 billion to the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield – the military unit fighting insurgency in the Niger Delta. Most of the funds were described as operation enhancers.
Over 70 per cent of the funds (N6.2 billion) were converted to US dollars and handed over to an unknown “Private Citizen”. No one also knows what happened to the balance — N2.3 billion.
9. The Shaldag contracts
The Shaldag contract is one of the deals that paved the way for a regime of kleptocracy in the Nigerian Defence sector, and the emergence of a gang that has grown to be more powerful than elected regimes.
The 2010 deal saw an Israeli shipbuilder, Israeli Shipyards, win a $25 million contract to supply Nigerian Navy with two fast assault boats. Their market value at the time was estimated to be $5 million each.
Nigeria, therefore, lost $15 million in the deal. It is unclear how the $15 million excess was shared between everyone involved, but the Israeli police have established that the middleman, Amit Sade, received $1.47 million in what is now termed brokerage fee. Three people are facing trial in Israel over this deal.
When Generals become bandits — List of Nigerian Military Generals Standing Trial For Corruption
Military Generals in Nigeria form an important part of the contracting gang stealing from the country through defence and security contracting. In July 2016, an investigative committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, shortly after entering office in 2015, released a report indicting 18 senior military officials, 12 retired and serving government officials, and 24 CEOs. The panel recommended further investigation and prosecution of the indicted individuals.
In February 2016, the Nigerian Army announced that it handed over 12 senior officers to the EFCC for their alleged involvement in arms scandal. The army did not name them but said they included three serving major generals, and one retired, three brigadier generals, four colonels and one lieutenant colonel.
“We have charged some people to court, but the investigation into others has not closed,” the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said.
Here are some of the senior military officers indicted by the panel in its report as well as those publicly known to be undergoing trial.
Lieutenant Colonel Sambo Dasuki, retired: Although official banditry in Nigeria’s defence and security contracting predates and goes beyond — the former National Security Adviser, he is the highest-ranking government official held. He was arrested on December 1, 2015, by officers of the State Security Service (SSS) over the utilisation of $2 billion meant for buying arms for the military.
In the scheme, high ranking members of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, as well as other members and friends of the government, set up companies and approached the NSA for contracts. As it was later found out, the contractors simply walked away with the funds while soldiers at the battlefront wrestled Boko Haram with bare fist. Prosecutors claim the fund were diverted fund the party’s campaigns in the 2015 elections.
A Presidential panel was later set up to investigate defence and security procurements dating back a decade. The committee indicted Mr. Dasuki and other individuals.
He has been in detention since his arrest despite bails by four High Court judges in Nigeria and an ECOWAS Court.
Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, retired: Mr. Ihejirika retired from the army in January 2014 after serving as Chief of Army Staff for four years. He was appointed Chief of Army Staff on September 8, 2010, by President Goodluck Jonathan. Seven months after his retirement, Stephen Davis, an Australian negotiator who was working for the Nigerian government as a go-between in the Boko Haram war called out Ihejirika, as well as Ali Sheriff, a former governor of Borno state, as the “sponsors” of Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s State Security Service later claimed they found Mr. Ihejirika to be innocent.
Mr. Ihejirika was indicted by the DasukiGate Panel for using family members and fronts to procure arms contract. Twenty months after the indictment, the EFCC invited him for questioning. As at the time of this reporting, he has not been charged.
Lieutenant General Kenneth TJ Minimah, retired: Mr. Minimah took over from Mr. Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff and handed over to the incumbent, Tukur Buratai.
On June 30, 2017, an Abuja High Court froze his accounts after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accused him and a company, Stoke Synergy Nigeria Limited, of stealing N13.6 billion from the Nigerian Army.
The EFCC claims Mr. Minimah has refunded N1.7 billion.
Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, retired: Mr. Badeh was the immediate past chief of defence staff.
The EFCC is accusing him of stealing N3.9 billion from Nigeria during his tenure.
“He allegedly abused his office as Chief of Defence Staff by using the dollar equivalent of the sum of N1.4billion removed from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase properties in choice areas of Abuja between January and December 2013,” the EFCC claimed in a statement.
Mr. Badeh and his family company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, are currently standing trial for the “theft” of N3.97 billion Nigeria’s defence and security funds.
Major General Emmanuel J Atewe, retired: A former Commander JTF Op PULO SHIELD is standing trial for allegedly “stealing” about N8.5 billion defence and security funds the operations received from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Mr. Atewe is charged alongside a former NIMASA boss, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and two other staff of the agency: Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.
An Abuja businessman, Arinze Nkem, on Monday, June 19, 2017, told an Abuja High Court that the General regularly paid huge sums into his bank account with instructions to convert the remittances to US Dollars and redistribute.
“I bought a guest house for JTF, Operation Pulo Shield for N170m upon instruction by Atewe,” Mr. Nkem told the court. “I once paid the sum of N297m to a company called CISCO Nobot Limited. I also paid N99m to Ocean Gaz Limited and another N88m to Lord Fem Nigeria Limited, which all belong to him( Atewe).”
Air Vice Marshall Tony Omenyi, retired: Mr. Omenyi and his company, Huzee Nigeria Limited, are standing trial for allegedly stealing N136 million defence and security funds. He was formerly a Managing Director of Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited (AETSL), a company owned by the Nigeria Air Force. His strategy was simple. According to court proceedings, he would cause his office to award contracts to Sky Experts who subsequently will forward the money to Mr. Omenyi’s company, Huzee ltd.
Mr. Omenyi claimed the monies were “refund of loans given to Sky Experts,” indicating a further breach of a constitutional code of conduct.
Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, retired: A former Chief of Air Staff is standing trial for conspiracy, stealing, money laundering, concealing of proceeds of crime and converting N18 billion belonging to the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, to personal use.
Mr. Amosu is being prosecuted alongside two other high ranking colleagues: Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, a former Director of Finance to NAF and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga, a former Deputy Director of Finance NAF.
Their corruption scheme was similar to others in Nigeria’s defence contracting industry. NIMASA paid NAF’s N3 billion to NAF’s Special Emergency Operation Account with Zenith Bank Plc. Other sources paid N15 billion. The money was then forwarded to five companies: Right Options Oil & Gas Limited, Judah Oil Limited, Delfina Oil & Gas, McAllan Oil & Gas Limited and Lebol Oil & Gas Limited.
These are Bureau de Changes, not oil companies as their names suggests and an insider, Mr. Adigun, was an opening director at Delfina Oil & Gas and McAllan Oil & Gas.
These FX companies converted the funds into US dollars and returned to Mr. Adigun and Mr. Olugbenga. Delfina Oil & Gas and McAllan Oil & Gas Limited paid a chunk of what went through them directly to Solomon Enterprises, a company owned by Mr. Amosu, the EFCC claimed in court.
The three military chiefs finally used the funds to buy properties in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Mr. Amosu’s wife, Omolara, one of the directors of St. Solomon HealthCare, also received N95 million from the largesse.
Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, retired: A former Chief of Naval Staff, is facing trial alongside Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia, Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (all retired) and Habor Bay International Limited.
The Nigerian Navy had no need for the house and had no plans to buy it. There was no budget for it. Apparently, a company owned by Mr. Jibrin’s family, Habor Bay International Limited, needed it. The three Naval chiefs worked out a plan and pulled N600 million from the account of Naval Engineering Services to pay for a property at Plot No. 2717 Cadastral A06, Maitama, Abuja.
The property’s documentation shows Habor Bay International Limited as the buyer and owner even though the Nigerian Navy paid. Essentially, the former naval chief used Nigerian Navy resources to illegally gift himself a N600 million property.
Others high ranking officials recommended for prosecution over alleged corruption in security procurement include:
Major General JAH Ewansiha, retired: Mr. Ewansiha served as the Chief of raining and Operations in the Army.
Major General Ugo Buzugbe, retired: – former COPP(A)
Major General ER Chioba (Rtd) – former DG DICON
Major General AI Muraina (Rtd) – former CAB(A)
Major General DD Kitchener (Rtd)- former COLOG
Brigadier General DM Onoyiveta – former Chief Of Staff to Chief Of Army Staff
Brigadier General AJS Onibasa – former OMT
Brigadier General M Mamman – HQ NAE
Brigadier General Ashinze – former SA – NSA
Colonel AA Abubagaji – former Assistant Director Finance
Colonel AM Inuwa – former Assistant Director Finance (COPP)
Colonel Lt Col El-Hussaini Boyi, retired – former Assistant Director, Finance
Colonel Sqn Ldr M Oyaduogba – Finance Officer JTF Operation PULO SHIELD
Colonel Abubakar Usman.
You may say that the narrative above was records from the old order, but what has changed today?
President Muhammadu Buhari himself agrees with this assertion and once said corruption was largely responsible for the inability of the Nigerian military to quickly defeat Boko Haram.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying this at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on 19 May, 2016 while speaking at an audience with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb.
The president was also quoted as saying that the loss of 14 local government areas to Boko Haram had greatly tarnished the reputation of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Buhari, however, noted that with measures taken by his government to curb corruption and provide better weaponry, logistics, training and welfare for soldiers on the frontlines, the military had now almost totally incapacitated Boko Haram as a fighting force and recovered all territories lost to the sect.
“When we curbed corruption and removed the injustice in the military, we began to make progress,” President Buhari had said.
In March, 2018, Buhari’s Nigerian government paid the United States government $496 million for the acquisition of 12 Super Tucano fighter jets to be used by the Nigerian Air Force in the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east without the approval of the National Assembly. Only God knows the amount that was inbuilt in the deal that saw only the involvement of the Executives and the military bigwig.
The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.), who made the revelation sometimes in February, 2018 at the special town hall meeting held for the military and security agencies in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Dan-Ali said with the payment of the money, the U.S. government will deliver the jets as soon as possible, after accepting the letter requesting the sale of the bomber aircraft.
The Defence Minister, who insisted that the capacity of Boko Haram insurgents to carry out attacks had been completely neutralized, said: “Gone are the days when our soldiers dropped their rifles and started running from the war front. Our gallant troops have successfully degraded the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Let me make it clear that currently, no single Nigerian territory is under the control of the Boko Haram terrorists. For instance, before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari, 21 of the 27 local councils of Borno State were under the total control of the insurgents. But today, they are all liberated.
“Currently no Nigerian territory is under the insurgents, while we have freed 30,000 people, mainly women and children held by Boko Haram.”
In addition, he said the government had acquired five units of caterpillar armoured mine-sweepers, new French patrol boats for the Nigerian Navy, and two fighter jets from Pakistan. However, the minister’s assertion that the Boko Haram terrorists had been defeated and territories in the North-east completely liberated was challenged by the chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Abubakar Kyari.
Kyari dismissed the minister’s claim, saying Marte Local Government in Borno, one of the local governments under his constituency, was yet to be liberated from the insurgents.
He said though the army had succeeded in decimating the insurgents, more efforts were needed to ensure the liberation of Marte Local Government Area and a few other areas in the North-East.
Kyari also hinted that normal socio-economic activities were yet to return in the areas recaptured from the militants, following the restrictions placed by the security forces.
He advocated a review of the restriction on movement placed on the liberated areas so that residents could return and resume their normal lives.
In his remarks, the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, who co-hosted the town hall meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, commended the federal government and military’s efforts to end the insurgency, but corroborated with this and said they should not relent by clearing Sambisa forest of remnants of the terrorists still hiding there.
He singled out the Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, a non-Muslim of Igbo stock for exhibiting leadership and professionalism in the fight against the Islamic extremists.
Shettima sang the praises of Nicholas, saying he and the state’s Police Commissioner, Tom Chukwu, both coincidentally from Mbaise, Imo State, changed the game in the battle in the war-torn North-east theatre.
“Some of our greatest recent feats in the conflict were done by non-northerners and non-Muslims officers in the military. Most of the soldiers that sacrificed their lives are not of the Kanuri ethnic group,” he said.
He admitted that the Boko Haram insurgency regained momentum after 2016 because of the failure of command at the theatre of war. Shettima was emphatic that the change of guard at the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, which saw the replacement of Maj.-Gen. Leo Irabor, who is now at the Multinational Joint Task Force, did not help in sustaining the winning spirit of the troops.
Irabor was replaced by Maj.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, who has also been replaced with Nicholas.
The governor said Ibrahim did not give a good account of himself, as his tenure as theatre commander was greeted with embarrassing attacks on troops and civilians.
Shettima said he was disappointed to observe that the previous commanders, who are from the southern states of Nigeria, did much better than the last occupant of the office who is from the north. Could that be because of sentiments and corruption?
“The last theatre commander who is even a northerner had woefully failed to perform,” said Shettima.
He restated that the replacement of Attahiru with Nicholas was a game changer for the counter-insurgency operations.
“When Gen. Leo Irabor, another southerner, was leaving, he left the Boko Haram insurgents in a degraded state. But the insurgents picked up hostilities shortly after he left,” he said.
Shettima said the recent victories of the military over Boko Haram were as a result of the change of guard at the military command and control centre.
“Some of our greatest accomplishments in the current counter-insurgency efforts were recorded under army generals who are not from Borno and northern Nigeria.
“And what we have recorded in the last six weeks outweighs what was accomplished in the last three years, especially under General Nicholas who is yet another hero of our time,” he said.
Shettima said the current tempo of the fight could only be sustained if the federal government doubles its support for the troops, especially now that the rainy season is over.
“We want the federal government to deploy more resources and sustain the current tempo before the rainy season sets in,” said the governor.
“We need to root out Boko Haram now before the dry Sambisa forest becomes an impregnable fortress for Boko Haram.”
Also, former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, who was at the meeting, criticised the federal government for underfunding the reconstruction of the North-east destroyed by the Boko Haram conflict.
Ndume said over N2.7 trillion or over $7 billion was required for the rehabilitation of the region, noting that donor agencies had provided N230 billion.
He added that the federal government only budgeted N45 billion in the 2017 budget, leaving the Borno State Government to cough up N100 billion for the effort.
He lamented that of the amount appropriated by the federal government, only N10 billion was released last year to the Presidential Council on North-east Initiative (PINE), a development that overburdened the Borno government with the reconstruction efforts.
Many Lies About Boko Haram
When Muhammadu Buhari won elections in 2015 he had vowed to remove inefficiency and corruption in the military while on the issue of boko haram he said, “the terrorists have continued to operate due to the previous government’s abuse of trust in the purchase of equipment and other ammunition to fight the war against Boko Haram”. He later reiterated in December 2015 that Boko Haram was “technically defeated” and declared in December 2016 that the group had been entirely ousted from its last stronghold of Sambisa Forest.
It will be recalled that On 9 September 2015, the former Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters, Colonel Rabe Abubakar announced that all known Boko Haram camps and cells had been destroyed, and that the group was so weakened that they could no longer hold any territory:
According to him, “These terrorists have been subdued, even if they are adopting other means and as they are re-strategizing, we are also doing the same and pre-empting them. We have coordinated the air and ground assaults to make sure that these terrorists’ hideouts are completely decimated. As I am speaking to you, all the terrorists’ camps have completely been wiped out. So right now they are completely in disarray, have no command and control of where to plan. We have even taken over their camps that most of them abandoned and are attempting to blend into towns and communities. We have also apprehended some of them and very soon innocent Nigerians can move back to their communities. We are making a lot of headway, so people should know that Boko Haram is no longer strong enough to hold grounds. Very soon this issue of whether they are in control of any territory in Nigeria or not will come to the open. I am assuring you that they will never again recapture the territory taken from them because what is happening right now with the deployment of troops, equipment and morale will ensure that. Also on 25th September 2014, military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade announced that Boko Haram leader Shekau is dead.
According to him, the military confirmed that Shekau was killed in one of the major battles by the deadly terrorist group to penetrate and overtake Konduga, a town near Maiduguri, the capital city of North-Eastern Borno State.
In 2017 it was also reported that for the first time in years, the Nigerian Army conducted military drills in the Sambisa Forest which previously had been a stronghold for Boko Haram and that the media was given rare access to the exercises. Brigades of the Nigerian Army’s 7th Division performed their 2017 annual drill in a wooded area of Borno State, in northeast Nigeria. The location in Sambisa Forest was no accident. The Nigerian army retook Sambisa late last year and moved its annual exercises here. The event was attended by leaders from the military and the Nigerian government.
It is strange that, after President Muhammed Buhari indicted the administration of former President Jonathan of its inability to deal with Boko Haram, as recent as November 2017 the terrorist group carried out attacks in Borno state. In October 2017 the terrorist group attacked a military base in Borno state.
These attacks are coming after the former Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters; Colonel Rabe Abubakar announced that all known Boko Haram camps and cells had been destroyed, and that the group was so weakened that they could no longer hold any territory.
Commenting on the situation in the northeast, a military expert, Captain Sunday Adoba said, the Nigerian army had never entered Sambisa forest and that all the pictures and claims of the military that they had captured Sambisa were all lies.
In his words, “On his appointment as Chief of Army Staff COAS, Gen Tukur Buratai, came out with a 4 phrase approach in June/July 2015 to end the fight against terrorist, by 31st Dec 2015. This never happened as the operational directives did not take into consideration the fluid nature of terrorism warfare, weather, lack of equipment and lack of commitment by some of the field commanders. 7 DIV was the worst offender in this category as troops lacked command and control, until the change in command in February 2016.
The epic center of operations, the Sambisa, was a no go area due to the weather as the terrain was inaccessible within the rainy season of May – Nov.
The lack of sufficient operational AFVs was a disadvantage to the troops in their efforts to crush the terrorists.
Till date insufficient mine detectors has continued to hamper smooth movement of the troops as indiscriminate laying of IEDs by BH was a serious hindrance to their movements.
There was another operation crack down which was to rescue the Chibok girls after much campaign, the aim was never achieved.
We had a well-articulated plan to capture Shekau by May 2016, and take over Camp Zero, the spiritual HQ of BH, again we failed. Another attempt was carried out between Dec – Feb of 2016/2017, flags and Quran were presented to Nigerians as evidence of our subduing Shekau at Camp Zero, this was not true as the troops never and till date, are yet to step on Camp Zero.
The Nigerian Army Small Arms Competition that took place in Bama, was over 40km from the Camp Zero and 30km from Sambisa, however the one week shooting exercise shook the BH, as they relocated further from Cam Zero.
The 40days mandate to pick Shekau dead or alive was ill-advised for obvious reasons.
The drawdown of units had just been concluded, meaning that new units were just being inducted into the theatre; as such the troops lacked the confidence to charge through IEDs and nets of AA guns to pick Shekau. The weather could not allow movements within 2km without the vehicle getting stuck in mud. The announcement gave Shekau, who of late, no longer stays in one place, the opportunity to relocate to another place. It also made Shekau, to review his personal guards by training his own Commandos and allowing non- kanuri members to leave his inner security corridor.
We also lacked adequate equipment and communication to carry out such a special operation.”
The military expert made it abundantly clear that boko haram were better equipped and better trained than the Nigerian military. According to him, a large percentage of the weapons used by boko haram were seized from the Nigerian army, while the rest of their equipment was procured from outside the country. He said members of Boko Haram were trained in countries like Somalia, Mali, Niger, and Afghanistan among others. The expert said Boko Haram had an efficient intelligent network that could detect when weapons were moving out from army headquarters and would eventually waylay the vehicles and commandeer the weapons. He said Boko Haram had agents’ at most motor parks and could tell when a lorry carrying food moves out of motor parks and would trail such lorries and waylay them collecting all the food they were carrying.
The retired Army officer said there is still no political will to deal with boko haram and the only hope is the recent change of tactics to deal with them.
He said, “Without a clear cut security policy, it would be difficult to release the IDPs to head home due to the security lapses in the state. It is rather unfortunate that an elected Governor would spend an entire tenure of 8years fighting insecurity, yet he does not have the power to enforce or deploy security to any part of his state.
The lack of categorization of the roles of the NGOs has been most of their efforts unnoticed.
Children and mothers have no land of fair share of delivery to do the IDPs setting.
The coordination of the NGOs in Borno State, with its large NGOs presence is largely felt by the IDPs.
Efforts should be made for an effective control coordination of the humanitarian bodies for the benefit of the people.
More supplies belonging to IDPs have found their way into BHT camps and markets. Efforts should be intensified to block all loopholes regarding the security and transparent distribution of goods and services to the people.
According to him, “We can and should end this crisis by June 2018. And to do this, we must do the following:-Induct more men and materials into the theatre. Presently the battalions are okay but must be full of strength of 750 – 1000 all ranks. Small arms and Ammunition must should be procured for the troops. More AFVs should be inducted into the theatre. More response to actionable intelligence should be embraced by field commanders.
It will be recalled that the Islamic State in West Africa (abbreviated as ISWA or ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, “Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad”) and commonly known as Boko Haram until March 2015, is a Jihadist militant organization based in northeastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the group has been led by Abubakar Shekau since 2009. From March 2015 to August 2016, the group was briefly aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Since the current insurgency started in 2009, it has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015.
After its founding in 2002, Boko Haram’s increasing radicalization led to a violent uprising in July 2009 in which its leader was summarily executed. Its unexpected resurgence, following a mass prison break in September 2010, was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated attacks, initially against soft targets, but progressing in 2011 to include suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja. The government’s establishment of a state of emergency at the beginning of 2012, extended in the following year to cover the entire northeast of Nigeria, led to an increase in both security force abuses and militant attacks.
Of the 2.3 million people displaced by the conflict since May 2013, at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon, Chad or Niger. Boko Haram killed over 6,600 in 2014. The group has carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014. Corruption in the security services and human rights abuses committed by them has hampered efforts to counter the unrest.
BOKO HARAM: The Military Big Cash-Cow?
Boko Haram insurgency may have been technically defeated, but there are strong indications that the war has refused to end due to vested interests among the nation’s military top brass and collaborators, writes Oga Tom Uhia
It is no longer news that Boko Haram whose real name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda Awati Jihad – the Sunni Community for the propagation of the prophet’s Teachings and Jihad – radical blood thirsty group was founded in 2002 and by 2009 it had transmuted into a terrorist organization attacking and killing innocent citizens at random in North-eastern Nigeria, what is news however, is that Boko Haram is still here with us because a cabal in the military is allegedly using it (Boko Haram) as a camouflage to milk the nation dry. It would be recalled that the evolution of Boko Haram was a response to the socio-economic imbalance borne out of a combination of decades-long mismanagement and pervasive corruption in Nigeria.
When the present democratic dispensation came into being in 1999, the aspiration of the Nigerian populace was that the new dawn after more than 16 years of military dictatorship, would yield dividends of democracy for both the urban and rural poor, but alas, what is on display today is not only a far cry from the great expectations of citizenry, it is also pathetic and worrisome, given the country’s present precarious security situation, where no day passes without killings of innocent citizens – in Kaduna, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba Zamfara, Nassarawa ,Kogi, to mention but a few – rendering hundreds of thousands of Nigerians refugees in their own country. Yet the Buhari-led administration keeps pumping billions of dollars into security which remains largely unguaranteed throughout the country.
Only recently, the federal government unilaterally decided to take a whooping sum of one billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to prosecute the unending war against Boko Haram, thereby eliciting widespread criticism from the opposition and other vocal political leaders who believe that Boko Haram is nothing but a cash cow from which the military and their collaborators are making a hell of money without recourse to the nation’s shrinking economy.
Worried by the alarming rate of insecurity in the nation, in spite of huge of sums of money at disposal of the Defence ministry, a vocal critic of the Buhari administration and a former member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, Dr Junaid Muhammed, contented that although he was not bothered by the amount of money being spent on the fight against insurgency, he was in total agreement with those who see the protracted war as a cash cow for some privileged few.
Dr Muhammed believes that contrary to statements credited to federal government officials that Boko Haram had been technically defeated, the truth was that the insurgency group remained a great threat to the country.
Hear him: “Boko Haram has not been defeated. If the government chooses to lie, including President Muhammadu Buhari and his Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and tell us that Boko Haram has been technically defeated, the truth is that people are dying every day at the hands of this Boko Haram group. I am not bothered by the one billion dollars approved to fight the insurgents. Whatever should be done to defeat this terrorist group must be supported by all of us. But the problem is that the President seems not to be in charge. My problem has nothing to do with the one billion dollars approved from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram. But it seems Boko Haram has been turned into a cash cow and some people and a crop of officers are making money from the insurgency. Whatever amount spent on the fight must be properly accounted for.
Dr Mohammed summed up: “There are problems between the EFCC and the DSS and there is no coordination at all and we don’t know who is in charge of all these security agencies”.
Also reacting to the recent decision by the federal government to release the sum of one billion dollars for the war against Boko Haram, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, described the approval by President Buhari and the APC governors as “the foisting of the greatest heist on the country”, against the backdrop that Nigerians had been informed time and time again that Boko Haram had been defeated.
Spokesman of the pan- Yoruba group, Yinka Odumakin told the press that the government is not sincere with Nigerians on the purpose the one billion dollars was meant for, since the presidency has made Nigerians to understand that Boko Haram has been defeated.
Another critic of President Buhari, Governor Fayose of Ekiti state, agreed with those opposed to the president’s approval of the one billion dollars, maintaining that the money approved was not meant for the prosecution of the war on terror but to fund the re-election bid of President Buhari in 2019.
Governor Fayose, in a recent statement issued by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Mr Lanre Olayinka, declared that “for posterity sake, I wish to place on record that I was not among the governors who approved the withdrawal of almost have of our savings in the Excess Crude Account, which belongs to the three tiers of government to fight an already defeated insurgency.
“Since they said they have defeated Boko Haram, what else do they a whooping sum of one billion dollars – over 360 billion naira – for, if not to fund the 2019 general elections? The APC promised to wipe out Boko Haram within six months, now it is more than 30 months and what the APC government is wiping out is the economy of Nigeria and livelihood of the people”, the governor stated, pointing out that 360 billion naira was almost the equivalent of what the Federation Account Committee (FAAC) shares to the Federal Government, 36 states and the 774 Local Government Councils monthly.
Fayose reasoned that Nigerians deserve proper explanation from the federal government on the rationale behind spending such huge sum of money to fight an already defeated Boko Haram. While alleging that the 50 billion naira kept by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in different bank accounts outside the Treasury Single Account (TSA) on the directive of President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari was part of the fund being kept to fund Buhari’s re-election in 2019, Fayose said Nigerians are alarmed by the revelation from the House of Representatives that the president exempted NNPC from transferring 50 billion naira to the TSA and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He added that a letter issued by the Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari, conveyed the directive.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had in its reaction to the controversial approval of the one billion dollars to fight Boko Haram, described the step as “curious and alarming for APC governors to connive with the presidency in approving the withdrawal of the one billion dollars to prosecute a war said to have been won.
“The approval for the release of the money to the APC-led federal government under the guise of fighting insurgency in the North East is curious and alarming going by the federal government’s position that the terrorists have already been defeated”, the PDP stated. The statement signed by PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan revealed that the PDP was alarmed by the manipulative plot by APC administration to secure approvals without recourse to due process and for the purpose of fighting the same insurgents it claimed to have defeated.
The PDP wondered why the federal government had to recourse to the National Economic Council (NEC), while “avoiding the direct constitutional appropriation channel of the National Assembly for funding items already provided for in the federal budget if it actually has nothing to hide.
“The PDP supports the fight against insurgency. We hold our officers and men confronting the terrorists in high esteem, but we are concerned about the manipulative tendencies connected with the approvals as well as the veracity of claimed purpose of the fund. Nigerians will recall that the APC-led federal government had claimed that it had defeated the insurgents. If it would take a billion dollars from the nation’s savings to kill what they long claimed dead, then we challenge the APC government to come clean and tell Nigerians the whole truth.
“The era of lies and propaganda is long gone and Nigerians know the truth. The federal government must be held accountable and stopped from any move to fritter away our national savings”, Ologbodiyan stated, calling on the National Assembly to interrogate the disbursement and subject it to a thorough and rapid process as the development has rubbished the integrity the APC administration.
Boko Haram in Retrospect
A peep into the recent past reveals that much of the suspicion of Nigerians on why Boko Haram insurgency has remained a hard nut to crack revolves around the so called power brokers in the north who were glaringly opposed to political power residing in the south. According to PowerSteering investigations, the suspicion and game play to wrest power from south to north were exemplified by statements made by certain northern political leaders about making the country ungovernable for former President Jonathan. For instance, the late Lawal Kaita made it abundantly clear in 2010 and 2014 that the country would be made ungovernable should former President Jonathan win the 2015 elections.
The late General Owoye Azazi who served as Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff under Jonathan it would be recalled told the press that beyond poverty and religion, the root causes of the Boko Haram, was the desire of selfish politicians to divide and rule the country.
Again, it would be recalled that between 2013 and 2015, the media was inundated with series of reports of how military personnel were fleeing from Boko Haram battlegrounds as result of inadequate fire power to subdue the terrorists, bringing into focus the case of 54 soldiers accused of mutiny for refusing to go to battle with Boko Haram. In the end, the nation’s military might, that once ranked among the best in the world had become under equipped and had dwindled beyond expectation; to the extent that combatants took to their heels on sighting the insurgents.
Yet no one queried the ugly development –as to how the nation’s military had become so ill-equipped in spite of steady increase of budgetary allocations from 2012. Our findings revealed that from $1.4 billion and $2.4 billion in 2010 and 2011 respectively, Defense got a 100 percent increase in 2012 to $5.7 billion. The Armed Forces received $2.1 billion alone that year which exceeded the whole Defense budget (including the Police and the Defense Ministry) in 2010. The trend continued as Armed Forces allocation rose to $3.6 billion in 2013, again exceeding the whole Defense budget for 2011. In 2014, the $6 billion received by Defense was 20 percent of the country’s budget that year, raising questions on why the war had remained largely unwinnable.
Keen watchers wondered why it is proving difficult – now that power has returned to the North and Boko Haram is said to be technically defeated – to identify the sponsors of the terrorists and bring them to justice. Why that is whereas neighboring countries like Chad, Niger and Cameroun have since prosecuted captured members of the dare-devil group and found them guilty, Nigeria is yet to tow the same line? Nigeria which from all indications, has much larger number of the captives, has only succeeded in prosecuting a few, instead there is this proposal of granting them amnesty. Who really is stalling the judicial process?
Impact of Boko Haram on children and parents
Boko Haram attacks by the insurgents have regrettably led to deaths of many innocent children, especially in North East, the epicenter of the insurgency. In July 2013 the terrorists invaded a government-owned boarding school in Mamudo village in Yobe state killing 42 students and teachers and burnt down the school. Similarly, in February 2014, they also invaded Federal Government College Bunu Yadi gruesomely massacred no fewer than 59 students and burnt down several buildings in the school
Another attack which is still very fresh in the memory of Nigerians was the terrifying abduction of over 200 Chibok girls from their school dormitory and of the remaining 113 girls in the hands of the terrorists only 15 are reportedly believed to be still alive. Then came the Dapchi abduction. Despite the fact that 105 of the abducted 110 Dapchi girls, were brought back in broad day light, following what many believed was stage managed by the federal government, Lear Sharubu who could have been the 106th of the released girls is still being held back for refusing to denounce her Christian faith for Islam.
Apart from the painful killing of innocent students and pupils by the terrorists, one of the gravest consequences of Boko Haram that the country is still finding very difficult to contend with is that 14.8 million Nigerians mostly in the North East are either directly or indirectly affected by the insurgency and of this number, more than 2 million are believed to be totally displaced in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi and Benue. Others are Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna, Zamfara, Abuja and Kano.
According to the United Nations (UN) guiding principles on Internal Displacement, and the UN Resolution 46/182 of 1991 the state has the primary role in the protection and provision of humanitarian assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within its territory. The fact that IDPs remain within the borders of the country means that it is the government within that bears primary responsibility for protecting and assisting them. However, Nigeria has received varying degrees of international support to take care of the increasing needs of those affected by the insurgency.
Evolution of Boko Haram
Boko Haram otherwise known as Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’ Awati Wal Jihad (the Sunni Community for the propagation of the prophet’s Teachings and Jihad), is a radical Islamic group founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf in North-eastern Nigeria. The group is also active in other geographically contiguous states which include Cameroun, Chad and Niger. Estimates put membership between 600 and 10,000.
Although Boko Haram has been linked to al-Qaeda over the years, it expressed support for the Islamic State (IS) in 2014 and pledged formal allegiance in March 2015. In its early days, many observers believed that the group was a social movement meant to articulate the collective interest of the poor. At inception, the group was not a violent movement but between 2009 and 2014, it had killed more than 5,000 civilians, including 2,000 killed in 2014 in a series of coordinated attacks predominantly in the North east.
Political observers believe that the evolution of Boko Haram was response to the socio-economic down turn following decades of mismanagement and impunity in Nigeria. This unfortunate trend eventually allowed for multiple descriptions of the group to endure, while accommodating different narratives of terrorism insurgency and criminality as different drivers of conflict and instability converged in the enclave of the fast growing movement which soon became too hot to handle.
Who is fooling who?
Although Transparency International (TI) has variously exposed human rights abuses, corruption and lack of transparency in Nigerian Army – Boko Haram theatre Command – the latest being the detestable and worrisome rape of starving women and girls in the North East, the military and the presidency have always dismissed such allegations with a wave of hand. Amnesty international’s latest report alleged that troops of the Nigerian often demand sex in exchange for food at refugee camps, a revelation which received widespread condemnation not only across Nigeria but the world over.
The report stated that Nigerian troops separated women from their husbands and raped them. It also revealed that thousands of displaced persons have starved to death in camps in the North East since 2015. As usual, the Military and the presidency have dismissed the allegations as malicious and false. With these repeated accusations of atrocities by Amnesty International, keen watchers have called on the federal government to do the needful by thoroughly investigating all the allegations through an independent body rather than dismissing them with a wave of hand.
Our Correspondent learnt that the unending insurgency in the country might not be unconnected with deep rooted corruption and lack of transparency in the top echelon of the Nigerian Armed Forces and their civilian collaborators in the Buhari-led administration, because extremist organizations like Boko Haram are believed to draw on public resentment and abuse of power as a means to radicalize and lure gullible youths for recruitment into their rank and file. From whichever angle one looks at it, corrupt practices destroy state institutions whose duty it is check the activities of extremist forces like the Boko Haram.
A Security Expert, Adamu Ibrahim told PowerSteering in an interview that there is strong link between corruption and insecurity. While maintaining that when a country’s institutions are weak with compromised security forces and porous borders as is the case in the country today, he said this could give room for extremist organizations to flourish.
According to our highly reliable sources, the perception of corruption in Nigeria worsened between 2016 and 2017 given the fact that Nigeria ranked 148 out of 180 countries assessed in 2017 on the Transparency International annual Corruption Perception index, indicating deterioration in perception of corruption in public administration in Nigeria when compared to 2016.
Furthermore, the nation’s intelligence gathering agencies whose core responsibility is to preempt the activities of extremist organizations like Boko Haram, have sadly turned themselves the instruments of political oppression.
As a proof that corruption is fast eating deep in the military regarding the way and manner defense contracts are being executed, sometime in March this year, the Israeli police arrested three senior officials of Israeli Shipyard on charges bribing government officials in Nigeria. Vice President for marketing of the Israeli outfit, Oded Breier was one of suspects arrested. A day after the arrest, Samy Katsav another senior Israeli defence businessman, was questioned by police in connection with the same bribery case. Both Mr Kastav and Breier were however, subjected to house arrest, and parts of Israel Shipyards’ bank accounts were frozen, Gold Bond Group, their parent company had announced after the event.
According to our investigations, the arrests followed investigations by the Israeli police and tax authority as well as other international financial crime-bursting organizations into a contract with the Nigerian government to supply two Shaldags military boats. The Israeli police and tax authorities were confident the suspects won the contract after paying bribes to government officials in Nigeria. As conventional with crimes involving high-ranking government officials, no one has been charged in Nigeria and it is unclear what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is doing about the case.
Insiders contented that the crooked defense contract gang that, involves a network of roles grouped into three categories, namely: the government gang which make up the first group which constitute government officials leading various defense units and committees, the Defense Minister and permanent secretaries, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the National Security Adviser and the President.
Our Correspondent also gathered that in addition to being the source of money flow into the network, they come with authority to protect the entire sinister network from the law. The second group is made up of middlemen – contractors, former and current government officials, politicians, family and friends of government officials serve as the face of each deal, cloaking each contract with the legality the public is later presented with.
While the government side serves as the source of funds, the contractors are the conduit pipes used to siphon public funds as they receive what seems to be legitimate payments and redistribute to every other members of the expanded gang.
As the Boko Haram insurgency said to have been technically defeated is still persisting, hitting soft targets within and without the North East zone, chances are that the insurgency is surmountable after all, if all the actors genuinely demonstrate the much needed political will to end it, rather than taking advantage of it as a big cash-cow to line their pockets.
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