A socio-religious rights group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called for the probe of the killing soldiers in Metele village in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State.It would be recalled that Boko Haram terrorists recently overran the 157 TaskForce Battalion at Metele, Borno State, killing at least 70 Nigerian soldiers and several others declared missing.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has summoned the top brass in the Nigerian military command to review the situation as the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has also expressed consternation, dismay and shock.
The group’s director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola who said that the incidence was a national tragedy of no little proportion has enjoined Nigerians to pray for the families of the fallen soldiers.
However, MURIC warned that the nation must not spend all the time on the mats and knees praying, but in the spirit of “oraet labora”, the country must work more and pray less.
Speaking on the level of preparedness of such assault on the troops and the alleged neglect, poor weaponry and sabotage resulting in the Metele attack, MURIC is demanding a probe of events which led to the overrunning of Metele and the merciless killing of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents.
MURIC recalled a similar situation in 2014 when 54 Nigerian soldiers complained to their commander that their weapons were too poor to confront better equipped Boko Haram fighters, after they had earlier lost 23 men and four officers due to poor equipment when they advanced on Damboa on July 9, 2014.
This made them to demand better supplies but they were rounded up instead and they were consequently tried and sentenced to death but this was later commuted to ten years imprisonment. “What kind of people are we? Why must those who work for us suffer unnecessary hardship on account of the services they render? Why must soldiers who are defending our territorial integrity be punished unjustly?
“Those 54 soldiers would have been slaughtered like rams in 2014 if they had not raised objection and refused an illegal order. Their refusal to march on insurgents with bare hands created the awareness of the existence of massive fraud in the army.
“Why must they still be in jail today? MURIC therefore calls for presidential pardon for the 54soldiers. They should be treated as whistle-blowers and heroes for exposing graft,” MURIC said.
The Islamic group also accused Western powers for delaying the supply of sophisticated weapons to Nigeria and for playing tortuous politics with the issue.
The strange conditionalities pushed forward each time the issue of supplying better weapons to Nigeria in its fight against terrorism is raised before Western countries was also bemoaned by MURIC as the western powers raise baseless issues of human rights and tie remote incidents to the supply.
“But what moral right do we have to blame outsiders when Nigerian lawmakers are the country’s worst enemies? They have never displayed any unity of purpose when the presidency requests funds to purchase sophisticated weapons. We recall the National Assembly’s strong objection and procrastination when President Muhammadu Buhari asked for $1 billion for more arms in February 2018. It is paradoxical that the same unpatriotic elements are now blaming the presidency for the Metele tragedy,” MURIC said in the statement. They urged the nation not to ever surrender the national mandate to “shenanigans, egocentric and unpatriotic politicians in 2019”.
As such, this, the group said is food for thought for the Nigerian civil society as it is particularly miffed by the silence of powerful groups like the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on the moral debauchery, open blackmail and daylight robbery of our common patrimony going on in the National Assembly.
“NASS delayed the 2018 budget for seven months and nobody did as much as whimper. The same NASS cut allocations to vital areas in the budget and added the deductions to its own in brazen exploitation and legislative rascality. Yet the same NLC ignored this and went on strike to put additional pressure on an overstressed administration. Silence is not golden in moments like these.
“Nonetheless, Metele or no Metele, we assert clearly, emphatically and unequivocally that Boko Haram remains technically defeated. A group of terrorists who once occupied 17 local governments, terrorized three North Eastern states (Adamawa,Borno and Yobe) and extended its tentacle of bombing terror to Kano and Abujahas been reduced to a shadow of itself.
“It is now restricted to acts of cowardice, hiding behind little girls who play the role of suicide bombers, engaging in seasonal guerilla warfare and disguising as friendly soldiers to gain access into the camps of gallant Nigerian soldiers,” MURIC stated. Salutations, respect and encomiums were showered upon soldiers and officers currently fighting in the North East region of the country even in the face low weaponry and continued assault by the terrorist and neglect by the government.
The MURIC further charged the Federal Government to quickly institute a probe of the Metele fiasco, with a plead for presidential prerogative of mercy for the 54 soldiers.