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Nigerian Army And Where Sowore Got It Wrong – By Charles Mbani

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Failed presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) and the convener of the failed #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, is not one to count his teeth with his tongue. If he were, he would have realized that picking on the Nigerian Army, even at the height of the #EndSARS/#EndSWAT protest, will not do much to boost his stature as one who habitually undertake failed ventures. He cannot even boast of being a successful publisher since his Sahara Reporters online publication has progressively slid from aspiring to be a responsible news outlet to becoming a terrorist propaganda platform and has even now been deployed for stoking anti-government anger in a bid to achieve what the terrorists have not been able to pull off.

In his latest misadventure, Sahara Reporters quoted its publisher as berating the Army while charging it to be loyal to Nigerians. Sowore apparently took this dig at the military institution on his Twitter handle in response to a statement issued by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in which he expressed the resoluteness of the Army to maintain the peace and stability of Nigeria. It turned out that peace and stability in Nigeria is something that Sowore is not comfortable with.

The body of the statement contained nothing that should warrant any cultured human to rain abuses on anyone or any organization. The statement simply reassured “law abiding citizens that it is highly committed to the sustenance of peace, security and defence of democracy in Nigeria.” It went further reaffirm unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a position currently held by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Constitution of the Country.

The statement of course went on to warn “subversive elements and troublemakers” of the Army’s commitment to defend Nigeria with the assurance that it would deal decisively with any situation while it will fully support the civil authorities to maintain law and order.

This statement clearly identified two sets of people: law abiding citizens and subversive elements. It is interesting to note how those in the former category simply took the statement in passing without raising hues and cries over its content, which is meant to reassure them anyway. Sowore, being the chief priest of the latter, definitely has something to fear.

The “law abiding citizens” kicked off the protest for #EndSARS, achieved results, and returned to their productive lives. The “subversive elements and trouble makers” however hijacked the protest and are now using the momentum created to make spurious demands that expose their evil intent. SARS has been disbanded but they are now asking for the resignation of the Inspector General of Police with all indications that they will ask for the abolition of all security agencies next before demanding for the sack of the government, which has been a long running objective of these dubious elements even before the 2019 General Elections.

It is a well-known fact that these subversive elements are being bankrolled by internet fraudsters, supported by the opposition and coordinated by disreputable international NGOs. The fraudsters want a free space to continue depriving people of their hard earned cash, the opposition wants to take over power through the backdoor without having to face elections or legitimately secure the mandate of the people so that they do not have to be accountable while the international NGOs remain in pursuit of their hidden agenda to destabilize Nigeria.

Anyone that is in doubt should ponder how Sowore with the likes of Aisha Yusufu, Deji Adeyanju and other career protestors are tenuously struggling to make the protest into Nigeria’s own Arab Spring, that Middle East misadventure that primed the region for a meltdown. What right thinking citizens would hijack a protest that is meant for good and repurpose it for evil? Why would anyone think of recreating an Arab Spring in Nigeria when its outcome in many countries that joined in it is that they are still smoldering wrecks?

Sowore will have to go the extra mile to persuade anyone that he is not linked to these aforementioned three categories. The way he has been attacking anyone or any institution that stands in the way of these three entities is something that calls for concern. We should be worried that Sowore decided to bad mouth the Army because it reaffirmed loyalty to the President and the Constitution.

The position of the Nigerian Army is highly professional and aimed at protecting pro-protest, anti-protest and even fence sitters. They are all Nigerians and their collective mandate is with the President as guaranteed by the constitution.

The lie that the Army is planning a harsh clamp down on citizens is laughable. Even at their most loutish, the Army has been measured in ensuring that it did not get into confrontations with protesters that get violent. The human rights record of the Army under the leadership of General TY Burata as the Chief of Army Staff, who had since set up a Human Rights Desk. People on legitimate peaceful protest therefore have nothing to fear. It is certain that if the Army was on the street nobody would have been allowed to molest any citizen irrespective of sentiments, affiliation or what sides they belong in the ongoing protests across the country.

The reassurance by the Nigerian Army is totally in order. Their loyalty must remain to Nigeria, the Constitution and the President elected to uphold that Constitution. There is no way that the statement of reassurance from the Army should be construed as intimidation. It is Sowore that is in the wrong and he, with his co-travelers, owes Nigerians an apology. He should take advantage of the statement to turn a new leaf so that he would not be counted as part of the subversive elements and troublemakers that are out to wreck Nigeria.

Mbani is a pro-democracy activist based in Abuja.

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#EndSARS: GOs As Protest Puppet Masters – By Philip Agbese

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We may just be nearing the end in the head scratching search for the financiers of the gourmet food being served on a daily basis to the #EndSARS protesters. The protesters have persisted on staying on the streets even after government has agreed to meet their five-point demand for reforming the police. The offer of food and other freebies, like free of charge repair of vehicles damaged at the protests and the social attraction of women and exchange of phone numbers, has been a magnet for some youth, who said they are participating in the protest as much as for the food as the principle of demanding change.

However, with the protesters vowing to remain on the streets, and growing belligerent, there is increasing suspicion that there are indeed powerful vested interests teleguiding the protests. They were behind the scene at the backend, particularly with the inane claim that the protest has no leaders – never mind that a five-point demand was articulated and presented to government, possibly by a ghost.

But on Sunday, Mr. David Oyedepo, presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church, in keeping with his tradition of toxically abusing the sanctity of the pulpit, exposed himself as potentially being one of the financiers and sponsor of the protests. In a Trumpesque rant during the second service to his captive audience, he carried on about how the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is the equivalent of the biblical evil king.

On the surface, the Bishop appears to be another senior concerned Nigerian citizen expressing displeasure over the state of affairs. But a deep dig shows that he is rather an instigator of violence against the government of the day, total collapse of law and order that could lead to total anarchy. There is no doubt the bishop has motive, means and malicious intent to tarnish the reputation of the present government and disintegration of Nigeria obviously for selfish reasons.

A few things stand out on which Oyedepo has clearly indicated his anger at the government’s actions as they directly affect his business empire. First was the stoppage of free parking of private jets that the Bishop and his associates had enjoyed under the previous administration, whose anti-corruption drive also caused the amount of money that Oyedepo’s church members are able to remit as planting of seeds, donations, offerings, tithes, pledges and sundry funds payable to his church. Another source of his unjustified anger is the requirement to comply with Financial Reporting Regulation that would have tenured the leadership of churches if its implementation where not stood down. The amended Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law was particularly distressing for the ostentatious capitalist Bishop, who did not hide his disdain and anger at the law that could impose a governing board to ensure financial transparency in the running of churches as charities.

It must not be forgotten that Bishop Oyedepo tried to mislead Nigerians that COVID-19 was caused by non-existent 5G telecommunications facilities. When he was proved wrong, he rose against the COVID-19 control protocol that required places of worship to shut down for a duration of time. In the weeks that churches and mosques were shut down, the earnings of Winners’ Chapel took a bad hit. His inability to corral people into the expansive halls of his church and threaten them with the horrors of hell meant that they were not blackmailed into parting with money they do not have; of course as a savvy businessman, he was quick to embrace the digital platform and virtual church service but expectations that people will donate digitally were woefully shattered. Indeed, the Bishop became distraught and desperate.

On his part, the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Dr. Paul Enenche, contributed to corralling #EndSARS protesters into deviating from the objective of pursuing reform of the police to asking for broader reforms. Possibly, unable to tinker with psyche of protesters from the background, he delivered a talk on “The Way of Peace,” which video was highly circulated in which he egged on protesters to oppose massive injustice, unfairness and lack of equity, oppression, suppression and subjugation of one people by another, nepotism, tribalism, regionalism, religionism and every form of such prejudice deprivation, poverty and hunger.

One would wonder what kind of doctor Enenche would have been if he were to be in full practice. He possibly would have been the type that will attempt carrying out a radical surgery to remove cancer that has spread all over a patient’s body instead of first dealing with knife stab wound that brought the patient into the accident and emergency ward, for that is what the #EndSARS protest can be likened to. The pressing national emergency at this point is to deal with the issue of right abuses by the police and then confront the other undesirable issues in the land in successive layers.

For Pastor Folu Adeboye, wife of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the strategy for keeping the #EndSARS protest on the streets is to ensure that protesters don’t get famished, so she delivered three truckloads of food and water to them. Hubby, Pastor Enoch Adeboye previously voiced support for the protests when he wrote on his Instagram page that “Our daughters will not be able to prophesy, and young men will not see visions if we don’t keep them alive. I support the youths in this peaceful protest as they “speak up” to #EndPoliceBrutality #EndSARS #ENDSWAT”.

It is interesting that these expressions of support, and, in Oyedepo’s case, open incitement, are in spite of the clear signs that the protests have turned violent with protesters chanting anti-government, anti-Buhari and pro-violence slogans. So far, there were over 12 persons dead. If things degenerate further, the clergymen have prepared alibis for themselves by rounding off their inciting acts and comments with the lame appeal to the protesters to be orderly, peaceful and law abiding. It will be interesting to hear from them how young people will remain law abiding when induced to wholesomely hate the leadership of their country by people in the kind of position of trust that the clergy occupied.

Knowing that every single thing being protested today predates President Buhari’s administration, one wonders why these clergymen did not find it pertinent to incite the youth in the manner they are doing now. Could it be that the excesses of SARS just surfaced or could it be that corruption was oiling their businesses so effectively then that they did not notice the anomalous conditions under which we live in Nigeria?

If religion is described as the opium of the masses, then people were weaned of their addiction to the sermons of commercial clergymen in weeks of the COVID-19 induced lockdown. A lot of them simply did not return for their fix after the lockdown was lifted, which has left these businessmen in dire financial straight as revenue keep dwindling. They also lost their hold on congregant since the lockdown period exposed the truth – people did not die for not given to the extortionist activities of their spiritual fathers in the period they did not show up to mark the register.

These clergymen are happy that the youths are protesting and the gloating tone in their sermons suggest their joy at the prospect that the end of President Buhari’s government is near. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that if President Muhammadu Buhari goes down in the manner they have orchestrated then, the country will be in flames for the next 50 years, there are people who will ensure that the puppet masters of these protesters become first set of casualties by obliterating their business centres and converting their worship centres to warehouses and declaring an end to theocratic interference and religion in Nigeria.

A timely counsel for these businessmen-clergy is to play the role expected of them. Their religious centres should run as real charities, with the bulk of the money they extort being spent on genuinely addressing human suffering, and without the pointless political posturing. They should allow the police reforms agreed by all involved to go ahead so that it would be concluded in time.

The other matters, like corruption and ethno-religious schism, they have introduced to the protest will take time and deeper efforts to fight. On the part of the clergymen, it requires that they stop accepting stolen money from their members who are in government and they must also limit their get rich-by-any-means sermons, popularly called prosperity gospel. As for the government, it is time for those in charge to fully deliver on the constitutional expectation that Nigeria is secular state. The undeserve waivers they usually give to these religious businessmen have to stop with the full powers of the Financial Reporting Council and CAMA unleashed on them. After all, they have proven that they are part of the problem.

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Is Gov. Zulum And Borno State Assembly, The True Enemies Of Nigerians? – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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The Armed Forces of Nigeria and its gallant troops fighting Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the northeast Nigeria, are not anybody’s weeping child. Officers, Soldiers ratings and airmen and women who are making enormous sacrifices for the peace and unity of Nigeria, day and night cannot be disparaged, ridiculed or diminished by Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum and his surrogates or proxies at the Borno State House of Assembly.

Gov. Zulum and the state lawmakers cannot subject the Nigerian Army, the brave and courageous troops in the frontlines to any myopic slight. Sustainably, Prof. Zulum has mastered the act of slight, vilification, denigration and defamation of the Nigerian Army and troops in the frontlines since he became Governor of Borno state.

Often, he unjustly upbraids troops in the frontlines in a tenor which only passes the test of a demented fellow. He has spewed every inanity in blaming soldiers and every other person, except himself, for the unabated scourge of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism, which only reigns in Borno state now. Suspiciously, the same Gov. Zulum has refused to tell Nigerians why Borno State remains the only state harbouring terrorists in the country in such magnitude.

Zulum has never spared a minute to reflect on his lapses and inactions for the intermittent resurgents of terrorism in his state. He delights in playing to the gallery to earn public applauses. The Governor has never harkened to the serial and consistently publicized pleas by various groups and eminent personalities to convoke a summit of all stakeholders to dialogue on Boko Haram terrorists and their nefarious activities for some inexplicable reasons. As we all know, military actions alone have never ended terrorism anywhere in the world; but Gov. Zulum has abstinately ignored the needful in such a manner that defied human reasoning.

The Armed Forces of Nigeria and in particular, the Nigerian Army, under the able leadership of the Lieutenant General TY Buratai have been doing a marvellous job in the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of this great nation. They have been doing so professionally and diligently, devoid of sentiments or partiality. The Armed Forces of Nigeria are not politicians, but professional soldiers and they have remained true to type for the benefit of our democracy, national unity, safety and security . It is therefore inexplicable for Governor Zulum and cahoots in Borno State House of Assembly to infuse politics into the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of this country through myopic and petty sentiments to score a needless point by singling out of a police officer for recognition and honour, thus dragging the image of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies into disrepute by portraying them as unworthy for such gesture.

No one would suffer any nightmare, if Gov. Zulum decides to bring his name and the exalted office he holds in public trust into disrepute by honouring the commander of the disbanded FSARS, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed. But is it inexcusable, absolute miscalculation, absurd, senseless and demeaning for Gov. Zulum to instruct and supervise the honouring of the Ex-commander of the scrapped FSARS and tie the reasons to his “enormous” impacts in the fight against Boko Haram merely to spite and slight troops in the warfront?

With this act, we hope that the Governor is not proving observers right about ethnic coloration of the Boko Haram terrorists saga. Regardless of bias and sentiments, that’s not how to slight soldiers who are spending sleepless nights in the trenches, forests and swamps of Borno state to give Nigerians peace and security and defend them from Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorism. Quite curiously, Gov. Zulum never acknowledged the so-called gallantry of the FSARS commander and his team, while his “impactful salvaging” actions on the counter-insurgency lasted.

But Zulum only remembers to adore the FSARS Ex-commander with garlands, months and probably, years after these imaginary acts of bravery and at a time the FGN proscribed this discredited unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). It is a resentful misstep for Gov. Zulum to inject his pro-FSARS partisan campaigns into the security arena in his state and the Northeast at large.

Gov. Zulum can be a pro-FSARS campaigner or its apostle, but no one gives a honk. But it is not acceptable for Zulum to continue to undermine the integrity, professionalism and sterling efforts of our gallant troops in the frontlines, many of whom have paid the supreme price only to be rewarded with such callous insults from the political leadership of Borno State.

Some Nigerian politicians are truly shameless. It is confounding and infantile hypocrisy that Zulum would today chant eulogies of FSARS and their alleged effectiveness on the anti-terrorism combats. But it was only yesterday, the same Gov. Zulum blamed soldiers for the attack on his convoy; he didn’t remember to call his super-hero, the FSARS commander. Whenever Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists sneak an attack on any village in Borno, Zulum does not call his super-hero to rise to the occasion, but the Nigerian soldiers he love to hate.

And a few days ago, and before the disbandment of FSARS, Gov. Zulum who has turned a military and warfare expert, sent a public advice to the Nigerian Army, asking them to take the war to the doorstep of the insurgents. It was not the super-commander or super cop of the outlawed FSARS he summoned to the task. There is no scintilla of doubt now that Zulum knows everything hidden about the resurgent terrorism in Borno, but he is not telling Nigerians.

However, plainly, Gov. Zulum must be reminded that he knows nothing about the matrix of terrorism warfares or else, he would have recalled that Gen. Buratai launched the Super Camp strategy in the counter-insurgency operations since 2019. What is Zulum’s understanding of this warfare strategy to now mouth about taking the war to the doorstep of the insurgents? He did not give the advice to his super cop?

Some people are under the delusive illusion of knowing everything under the sun and Gov. Zulum is a classic example. It is now very discernible and glaring, Gov. Zulum’s unpretentious subversion of the counter-insurgency war. His demeaning and disreputable public howls on troops in the frontlines are carefully designed gimmicks to veil his shadows of sabotage in the counter-insurgency operations. It is not surprising that some experts are calling for a state of emergency in the state.

The Governor must understand certain things clearly. Nigerians will not tolerate myopic and teleguided politicians like Zulum to distract soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency by infusing dangerous politics into security matters. Again, no one nurses any grouse against honouring anybody who works hard towards national or even community development! There is no envy of whatever hue.

But Zulum’s honour to the disbanded FSARS commander is different and drapes with insidiously destructive undertones! Certainly, there’s more to it than meets the eye in the honour extended to the disbanded FSARS chief in Borno, for his alleged contribution towards taming the Boko Haram menace. There are a few posers for Gov. Zulum and his bunch of co-travellers in the State Assembly.

Firstly, when has the Borno State Government or any of its institutions ever deemed it worthy to honour gallant troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, particularly those gallant officers of Nigerian Army and other sister security agencies in this honourable manner, for their extraordinary gallantry and sacrifices in the theatre of war against insurgency? Could it have been an oversight or a deliberate indifference by Zulum as today’s unfolding events have justified?

In truth, did it genuinely escape the mind of Gov. Zulum that this sort of selective treatment is not capable of demoralizing the gallant troops, that have continued to make sacrifices in defence of their fatherland? Really, what’s the underlying motive behind this ‘coveted’ honour extended to the former SARS Chief on the floor of hollowed chambers of the Borno State House of Assembly?

Is this so-called honour not really aimed at mocking and undermining the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies sacrificing daily in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists all these years, with the unuttered statement, but loudly expressed in the action of the honour to the FSARS commander, aligning excellence in the war on terror to the discredited and disbanded police outfit? With this publicized action and the impression emanating from it, is it not wise counsel for Mr. President to unban FSARS and deploy all its members to the warfront in the northeast, withdraw the Armed Forces and other security agencies from the Borno State?

The worse plague among a people is the politicization of serious security issues. Gov. Zulum and the Borno State Assembly have wittingly indulged in this mess. Borno communities under the menace of insurgency are really unfortunate. Whilst they look afar for the enemy tormenting their lives; their greatest enemies are in-house as symbolized by Gov. Zulum and the State Legislature. In the twosome, lies the perfect imagery of saboteurs of the counter-insurgency operations who have weaponized every instrument to ensure Boko Haram insurgency persists in the state.

Uzah PhD is head of department, Mass Communication, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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SARS: Between Gov Zulum and Hypocrisy – By Idoko Ainoko

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Yesterday, it was reported that the Borno House of Assembly honoured the State Commander of the now disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, police unit, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed. The SARS Commander was honoured with a plague for what the House of Assembly said was for his gallantry in the fight against insurgency in the state.

Members of the Borno Assembly from reports gleaned, said they were impressed with the way the Commander and his team had on three different occasions, 13th, 14th and 21st July, encountered the Boko Haram terrorists at Mainok in Kaga LGA, Auno -Jakana- Damaturu road and on the Maiduguri-Damaturu road and engaged the terrorists in fierce battles while recovering several arms from them.

It is a good thing that the people of Borno have started acknowledging the efforts of security agencies in fighting terrorism and honouring those who have put in efforts to secure the nation. In the past, they had, save for the occasional commendations, carried on as if such efforts don’t matter.

But still, one cannot fail to notice the of hypocrisy in the so called honour given to the boss of the defunct SARS in Borno State. The honour coming at the time it did and the manner it was presented suggests there is more to the issue of the award than meets the eye. The first is the timing. Military operations have been going on in Borno State and other parts of the Northeast for more than 10 years, but no arm of the state government has deemed it fit to honour all the gallant men that have sacrificed their lives to ensure their safety until now.

Curious still, is the fact that the latest of all the three instances sited by the Borno House of Assembly where it says the SARS encountered Boko Haram happened almost three months ago but the Borno Assembly which has been in session all these days did not see the need to hoounur the police unit until a groundswell of opinion has been established about their unprofessional conducts and protesters rose in their thousands and succeeded in getting the government to disband the outfit.

Another thing is that the SARS team has not been the only security agency operating in the Northeast that has done creditably well in securing the territorial integrity of the nation.
If the award does not have political undertone, other heads of agencies that have done well on fighting terrorism would have equally been honoured alongside the Commander of the defunct SARS.

It is well known that the Nigeria Armed Forces with all its components of the Army, Airforce and Navy have been engaged in military operations in the Northeast and have more than 300 instances of where it had either repelled, killed, captured or destroyed the camps of the terrorists.

The military it was that entered Sambisa Forest and pummeled the base of the insurgents and they fled leaving their weapons and emblems which were recovered and presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.
This year alone, between April and May, Nigerian troops, using both aerial and surface tactics killed over 3,000 of the insurgents, captured their weapons, arrested their top commanders and informants as well as rescued captives. But all these seem to have been lost on the Borno State Government.

Added to that, the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum had on two occasions being saved from harm by the military yet no arm of the state government has yet deemed it fit to honour the military for its efforts.
Other agencies like the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, NCDC, the Department of State Security Services, DSS, and many others have also made their contributions towards defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well, but at no time did the Borno State government considered them worthy of such an honour.

It would appear that since there is a nationwide protest against SARS and the Borno State Government had in the past used the unit to portray the military in bad light, all it wants to achieve by honouring the police unit is to downplay the sacrifice of the military and the other security agencies in Borno.

Otherwise, it is difficult juxtaposing how the rescue of two soldiers by the SARS would be hyped and overblown over the many instances the military had equally rescued and defended policemen.

When the insurgents overran the Mobile Police Training Camp at Gwoza, Borno State, it was the military that went in and took it back; when the terrorists sacked the police barracks at Bama, it was equally the military that recaptured it. Yet no arm of the Borno State Government ever remembers that. Rather, the Borno State Government have done the contrary, by making disparaging remarks about military operations in the Northeast.

Under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, elders in Borno State outrightly demanded that troops be withdrawn from the state.
The current governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum and other state government officials even made worse allegations on the military by accusing the military of extorting money from motorists plying the Maiduguri- Damaturu road, accusing the military of abandoning their posts at Auno, when some travellers were killed on that route and also accusing the military of being behind the attack on his convoy at a small town near Baga.

The Borno State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babakura Jatau, had at a time also accused the military of profiting from the war against insurgency.

It is my view that since the Borno State Government or any of its agencies have not been forthcoming in rewarding excellence, this so called honour might have been aimed at mocking the Military. If not then what is the motivation for the award?

Since the SARS has been disbanded, the award cannot be said to be to encourage them to do more. Since the award is selective it is viewed as discriminatory on the other agencies.

Hence one cannot really fathom the motive for giving such an award at this time. More worrisome is the fact that this kind of selective treatment is capable of demoralizing the gallant troops, that have continued to make sacrifices in defence of the fatherland.
The Borno State Government and its agencies need to be more circumspect in handling issues related to security in the state.

Ainoko is a public affairs analyst and wrote from Kaduna.

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