“It is very heartening to hear President Goodluck Jonathan say the security agents have been foiling attacks by Boko Haram of recent.
“But this does not vitiate the need for dialogue as a viable option. This is because there has been a precedent in which President Umaru Yar’Adua used force and killed 700 members of the sect and their leader but Boko Haram has remained unbowed,” spokesman for the ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, said in an interview with one of our correspondents in Kaduna.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary said the insurgence by Boko Haram could not be stopped with force.
The group’s position was in a reaction to comments by Jonathan and a ranking senator from the North-East, Buka Ibrahim.
The President had on Sunday in Abuja said that the security challenge confronting the country would soon be a thing of the past, and that plans by the Boko Haram sect to launch attacks during the Christmas period were foiled.
But Ibrahim had in an interview with journalists on Monday said that dialogue remained the best option.
“In terms of security, dialogue still remains the best. It is not the only way out, but I believe it still remains the best,” he had stated.
Commenting on the dialogue option, the ACF said the revelation that bomb attempts were allegedly foiled during the festive period did not defeat the need for dialogue.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government is to spend N24.1bn on internal security operations for the armed forces in the 2013 fiscal year. The sum exceeds the N16.4bn allocated to police formations across the country by N7.7bn.
The soldiers’ provision consists of N16.107bn earmarked as “Operations-internal for Armed Forces” and N8bn for the payment of Nigerian Army Quick Response Group, including arrears as captured in the 2013 budget passed by the National Assembly.
Members of the Nigerian Armed Forces are currently engaged in several internal security operations, including membership of Joint Task Forces fighting kidnapping in the South- East; oil bunkering in the South-South and Boko Haram in the North.
Our correspondent reports that the N24.1bn for internal security is separate from the N64.013bn budgeted for Defence, including the Ministry of Defence, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, and the Nigerian Navy.
In a reaction to the sum allocated to soldiers’ involvement in internal security, a retired Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, said the increased internal security role being given to the military was unhealthy for democracy.
Tsav argued that the Nigerian public was gradually being groomed to further disrespect the police, which, he said, were better trained to handle matters of internal security.
According to him, the sum budgeted for soldiers’ intervention in internal security would have been better applied to strengthening the police through training and provision of equipment.
He said, “The job that the military is doing within Nigeria today is essentially that of the police. If the police had been properly equipped and given additional training they would do the job so that the military concentrate on their constitutionally assigned role of protecting us against external aggression.
“The allowance that these military men are getting for their operations in trouble spots like Yobe and Borno states is too much; if the military can assist in properly manning our porous borders it will stop the smuggling of weapons which fuel these crises.
“What is happening today reminds me of the Abacha era when certain individuals in government did terrible things in the name of the National Democratic Coalition just to get money out of the system.”
Tsav’s opinion tallies with that of the Convener of the Northern Politicians, Academics and Professionals, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, who similarly said the role being given to the military in internal security was dangerous for democracy.
Junaid argued that the preference given to the military, especially the Army in funding to carry out internal security operations should be a source of concern to all lovers of democracy.
Junaid said, “First, I do not believe this administration is being sincere with the figures being brandished about.
The figures are clearly understated, they are lying with statistics. It indicates a dangerous trend.
“A situation where soldiers are in charge of areas that constitutionally they have no business in does not in anyway help to entrench democracy.
“Today, we have a chief of Army staff who is actively involved in domestic security policy, and taking political decisions, including decisions on how much he wants to spend on operations, is certainly not healthy.
“In functional democracies, the military should be seen to be effectively under civilian control while the Police are given preference in funding to carry out internal security functions.
“This is so because, the police are more approachable by their training to interact with the civil populace.
“The Shagari administration did that effectively by properly equipping the police with water cannons and Armoured Personnel Carriers and the like which the military took when they overthrew his government.”
Source - Punch news