150 cameroonian vigilantes: Ekhomu spoke out of ignorance, Zulum’s spokesman replies
It was for his ignorance of current security cooperation amongst states within the Lake Chad Region, that Dr Ona Ekhomu, President, Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON) issued a press statement criticizing Borno Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum for equipping 150 Cameroonian vigilantes who have joined the fight against Boko Haram in the northern part of Borno State, in the shores of the Lake Chad.
Zulum’s Special Adviser on public relations and strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, stated this at the weekend in reaction to media publications on Thursday, in which Ekhomu described Zulum’s recent dealing with 150 Cameroonian vigilantes as “a huge mistake” and an illegal disregard for Nigeria’s sovereignty and its Army.
“I have read reports in at least five newspapers credited to my elder brother, Dr. Ona Ekhomu who said with emphasis that Governor Babagana Umara Zulum acted illegally by equipping 150 Cameroonian Vigilantes to join the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria. He even said the Governor’s decision was a huge mistake in disregard for the Nigerian Army and Nigeria’s sovereignty. I say with no intent to disrespect Dr Ekhomu, that his press statements were based on complete ignorance. First of all, Governor Zulum’s operational arrangements with the 150 Cameroonian vigilantes happened with full involvement of the Nigerian Army’s component in the multinational joint task force, currently fighting Boko Haram in eight regions affected by Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic. In fact, it was at the headquarters of 5 Brigade of Nigerian Army in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area in northern Borno State, that officials of Borno government presented patrol vehicles and other logistics to the Cameroonians last week. Pictures of the events were released to the media and I am surprised that Dr Ekhomu didn’t make effort to get these facts before issuing press statements to criticize that hopefully productive counter terrorism effort. I am attaching pictures of the event here, again. The Cameroonian vigilantes are operating in parts of northern Borno located in the shores of the Lake Chad and they are operating under the coordination and command of the Nigerian Army component of the multinational task force. One of the key benefits of having these vigilantes is the latitude to generate and pass on intelligence from border communities in Cameroon and to also pursue insurgents who occasionally flee from Nigerian territories to border communities in Cameroon where Nigerian troops may be constrained to engage them,” Gusau said.
The spokesman explained that in addition to the full involvement of the Nigerian Army on the 150 Cameroonian vigilantes, Governor Zulum is member of the Lake Chad Governors Forum in which ”Governors of eight regions of the Lake Chad Basin affected by Boko Haram are involved in cross-border cooperation on security. That Lake Chad Governors Forum (to which Governors of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and their counterparts in five regions of Cameroon, Chad and Niger are members) was established with the involvement of the United Nation’s Security Council’s committee on counter terrorism and the federal government of all the countries. The forum’s first meeting took place in Maiduguri in May 2018 and the second meeting held in Niamey, Niger Republic around July, 2019. The main objective of that forum is to ease cross border cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram in the affected countries. I am surprised that Dr Ekhomu, who is a security consultant, is not aware of all these measures set in place in the determined effort to deploy new approaches of fighting the Boko Haram”, Gusau said.
The spokesman, advised persons who speak to the media on security issues to take time to research on subject matters and get the facts before rushing to the press.