A ‘repentant’ Boko Haram member was responsible for the murder of an Army Colonel, D.C Bako, Borno State senator, Ali Ndume, has claimed.
The member, he said, gave out information to the terrorists regarding the movement of the colonel.
Mr Bako was killed on September 21 in an ambush by the terrorist group, near Damboa, a town about 85 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Confirming his death, the Nigerian Army described D.C Bako as “one of our gallant and finest war heroes.”
Mr Ndume, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, made the revelation to journalists on Wednesday shortly after the budget defence session of the Nigerian Army.
The lawmaker was responding to questions bothering on the funding of the army, as well as the committee’s position on the reintegration of repentant Boko Haram members back into the communities – an idea which he said is wrong.
“I am in disagreement with the government on the issue of de-radicalising and reintegrating (Boko Haram repentants). I still maintain that. You can’t be resettling people, pampering them while the war is on. The committee is on the same page and I believe many Nigerians are on the same page with this.
“In my village, mallams, not ordinary Muslims but mallams, elders above 60, 75 of them were taken to an abattoir and slaughtered by Boko Haram. Can you imagine that the Nigerian army or the Nigerian government is saying that because these people have gone to repent, or they say they have their hands up, you bring them back and pamper them.
“In addition to that, the recent attack in Damboa was carried out by a repentant (Boko Haram) giving information as to the movement of the army, the general that was killed was a victim,” said the lawmaker, who appeared emotional as he spoke, apparently mixing up the title of the deceased officer. The only ambush and killing of a senior army officer reported recently was that of Mr Bako in Damboa, Borno State, in September.
“If you give IDPs here, N150,000 as perk as they give them (Boko Haram repentants) I have 10,000 of them here…. they are displaced, suffering. They know these people that killed their people, it is wrong,” he said.
Mr Ndume is one of the many lawmakers that opposed the government’s decision to rehabilitate and reintegrate ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members.
While he decried the poor funding for the Nigerian army, the lawmaker said bandits in the North East are better equipped than the military personnel.
“The only difference between the Nigerian army and the bandits is that the Nigerian army is trained and they have uniforms. Even that, some of the bandits take away the uniform from the Nigerian army or they buy it from the market,” he explained.
“Some of the bandits have better AK-47. I think they have what they call AK-49, the latest AK used by bandits and insurgents in the North East and North West. I want to use this opportunity to tell you the committee’s position that as a matter of urgency… the budget of the Nigerian army should be increased.
“Not only that, we are advocating they should be front rolled, that means if they sign the budget, you give them so that they can start their procurement process because unlike other procurement that you can buy here, buy there, the Nigerian army’s have to be processed. Before you even finish the process, it takes a long time.”
On the army’s 2020 budget, the lawmaker said only 83 per cent of their personnel cost was released to them.
“…Imagine people who are on the war front, trying to protect the country. Worst of all, their capital, I mean money that is supposed to be given to them to buy the necessary equipment, arms and ammunition, secure kitting for the armed forces, only 64 per cent of that money was released. Fifty per cent was released in the first week of July and the second batch of it was released this week and Nigeria is at war.”
He also urged the Nigerian government to prosecute “those that are directly or indirectly involved in Boko Haram activities” and use them as an example.
When asked why the parliament has not increased the army’s budget since it has the power to do so, Mr Ndume said the three arms of government are supposed to work hand in hand.
“We have engaged the Nigerian army and we are going to engage the executive to make them understand that based on what we oversight, they need to increase the budget of the Nigerian army.
“So far, we are on the same page with the executive. We are going to work together and make them understand that there is a need. Some of them do these things and present it to Mr. President without him knowing the implications,” he said.