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Fall-out of BBOG visit to Sambisa for Chibok Girls

“WHAT WE, BBOG LEARNED FROM OUR VISIT TO SAMBISA FOREST”

20 January 2017

BBOG WELCOMES CONTINUING MILITARY SEARCH FOR OUR CHIBOK GIRLS AND CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SECURE RELEASE OF ALL REMAINING 195 CHIBOK GIRLS AND OTHER ABDUCTED CITIZENS:

Our Movement had over the last eighteen months of since the inauguration of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration demanded the FG to make a strategic decision on the lowest risk option to recover our #ChibokGirls. The possibilities remain rescue by military operation, release through negotiation with the terrorists and finally, a combination of the two options.

With our visit to the war zone, we have become more convinced that the combination approach was what helped achieve the recovery of 24 #ChibokGirls that have so far regained freedom from terrorist captivity. While 3 of our ChibokGirls were indirectly recovered as a result of military operation in the war zone, 21 of their friends were released by the Boko Haram terrorists as a result of negotiations by the Federal Government.

While we urge the military to accelerate its counterinsurgency operations which we observed during our Guided Tour, we must ask the Federal Government to speedily fulfill its public promise of negotiating the release a set of 83 of our #ChibokGirls as conveyed by the Spokesperson for the President last October when 21 of their colleagues were released.

We noted during our Guided Tour, that minister of information and culture alongside the minister of defense revealed that those negotiations are still ongoing to secure the release our 83 girls. Our Movement shall therefore strengthen our voice of demand for quick recovery of all remaining 195 of our #ChibokGirls and other abducted citizens.

We shall not stop demanding for their rescue until all our girls are back and alive. And so, as we continue to monitor the activities of the Federal Government to rescue or secure the release of our girls, we urge that it should accelerate effort to avoid another tragic milestone date of DAY1100.

BBOG IS VINDICATED BY VISIT WITH MEDIA AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO THE WAR ZONE THAT TRANSPARENCY IS KEY TO WINNING THE COUNTERINSURGENCY WAR:

A nation at war with a common enemy needs to be united to win. Unity of all stakeholders affected by the war– the government, the military, the directly affected citizens, and the wider Nigerian public is best achieved entrenching Transparency in the way the war is communicated. It is on record that #BringBackOurGirls had on many occasions in the past demanded that independent media should be occasionally embedded within the troops at the theatre of war to enable accurate reporting of the progress being made by the military.

Such transparency and accurate reporting of the war can also honestly reveal challenges for our troops that can be quickly resolved without creating distrust for the government and military establishment. Such accurate media reporting helps to builds trust and achieve buy-in of the Nigerian public for the government and the military in the prosecution of the war. Our participation alongside independent media in the tour to the theatre of war in Sambisa General Area validated the benefit of Transparency to the counterinsurgency war. The military should therefore do more to foster transparent relationship with the media and civil society especially considering its history of distrust among the Nigerian public.

For example, the Nigeria Air Force can quickly clarify the size of the war zone– the Sambisa General Area — which it presented during our Guided Tour as 60,000 square kilometers and 18 times the size of Lagos. There is an on-going public debate of that data and a NAF clarification can help promote the culture of transparency and debate that builds public confidence in the military.

BBOG ASKS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY TO CLARIFY ITS POST-CAMP ZAIRO CAPTURE COUNTERINSURGENCY OBJECTIVES AND COMMUNICATE WAR BETTER TO PUBLIC:

As progress is made our Movement believes that the objectives of the counterinsurgency war require constant review and clarification to the public by the Federal Government and the military. This is to enable the public know when milestones and defined results have been achieved. This is especially in view of the recent miscommunication to the public on the significance of the military capture of Camp Zairo. Our experience during the Guided Tour, of the analyses that happen in the NAF technical war room; our participation in the ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) platform search process; our new insight into the level of coordination between the air and ground troops in intelligence gathering and operations; and finally, our access to the data trends of the counterinsurgency during our visit show that War Objectives, Milestones, Constraints, Failures and Results can be better communicated to the public by the Federal Government and the military.

Our Movement asked during our visit to the war zone and here again asks the Federal Government, with the capture of Camp Zairo, “What is the end game?” “What is success?” “What and when is Victory determined for counterinsurgency war?”

The Nigerian public needs to know the answers to these questions as Federal Government takes necessary steps to begin to communicate the war better to the public. In a democracy, government must embrace the culture of being answerable to citizens. The less antagonistic government acts toward those in society who scrutinize its actions and demand accountability, the faster the progress that our country can make.

BBOG CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO GRANT CITIZENS ACCESS TO INFORMATION TO SUPPORT EMPIRICAL ADVOCACY.
Our participation in the Guided Tour of the war zone gave us access to data, real time information and knowledge of the air component of the counterinsurgency war. Our Movement is thus even now  more  empowered to scrutinize the decisions and activities of the federal government and the military on the war. Empirical advocacy by citizens can be highly beneficial to government also. In any democracy, Government has a constitutional duty to answer every question on governance that citizens ask. It is those governments that imbibe such democratic accountability culture that invariably do well to guarantee citizens’ access to information. That way, it eschews rumors and anecdotes as a basis of citizens’ again agitation on issues of governance.

The government must embrace the culture of continually being answerable to citizens. The less antagonistic government acts towards those in society who scrutinise its actions and demand accountability, the faster progress society makes.

Therefore, as we continue with our demand on the federal government and the military establishment for appropriate decisions, actions and accountability to rescue of our Chibok Girls, the more factual information they provide to our Movement, the healthier the interaction can be. A good start would be that the Federal Government immediately acts on our Movement’s filing of a Freedom of Information more than one year ago, and publishes the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North East (the Tanimu Turaki Committee) 2013, and the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the Abduction of the Chibok School Girls (the General Sabo Committee) reports.

BBOG TASKS PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND THE MILITARY TO AVOID COSTLY DELAYS IN ACTIONS NECESSARY TO RESCUE CHIBOK GIRLS AND END THE WAR.
What we learned during the mission with the NAF validated our position during the last 997 days of our advocacy that had the right leadership, knowledge, expertise, equipment, intelligence been swiftly deployed earlier on in this war, our military would have long vanquished the enemy and ended their insurgency activities. It was the failure of governance that delayed the swift response of the military to the abduction of our Chibok Girls on April 14, 2014. The same failure of governance was responsible for delay in adequately resourcing our troops to effectively degrade the strength of Boko Haram terrorists and defend our territorial integrity. Delay of right action by our federal government helped escalate the insurgency. Those delays and failures are grossly costly in terms of loss of lives, time, and money that Nigeria has lost since the last eight years.

These costs can be quantified in that, 30,000 — thirty thousand —  of our citizens dead, an unknown number of our people including our 195 ChibokGirls still missing, 2.5 million— two and a half million — Nigerians dislodged  and living in squalid conditions in Internally Displaced People’s Camps, and several billions of dollars in war financing. The knowledge we have gathered from visit to the war zone has made our Movement resolute to continue with our demand for the leadership of the federal government and the military establishment to act end all delays and achieve cessation of the war. BBOG calls on the President as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to provide the urgent leadership necessary to quickly resolve all issues associated with the counterinsurgency war. Nigerian troops can win this war faster if the Federal Government can avoid costly delays.

BBOG CALLS FOR OPERATIONAL AND EXPENDITURE REVIEW OF THE WAR AND CONCLUSIVE PROSECUTION OF ALL ASSOCIATED CORRUPTION CASES:

The Nigeria Air Force provided factual information of the building up of tools, equipment and resources they require for the counterinsurgency war since July 2015. The information in turn enabled our Movement to analytically establish a strong link between financial resources allocated to the counterinsurgency war and the results achieved over the same period. It therefore validated our previous calls on the Federal Government to institute an operational and expenditure review of the financial resources committed to the war since 2009.

Such review process would help the country identify the colossal disconnect between financial resources and the results achieved. The findings of the operational and expenditure reviews can additionally identify the necessary financial and procurement systems measures and the accountabilities plus sanctions that must be taken to speed up results. Our Movement demands immediate action on this for the military and security establishments to improve value for money in their use of public funds.

Complementarily, our Movement calls on the Federal Government to immediately present to the Nigerian public an update of all the corruption cases associated with the prosecution of the war. What is the state of the prosecution of all those indicted in misappropriating monies for arms and other military equipment procurement? How about the prosecution of those who misappropriated the monies meant for troop salaries, allowances, terminal benefits, pension and other related matters? What assurances can the Government and military offer that monies meant to prosecute the war are no longer being diverted?

Corruption must be conclusively punished especially where the act resulted in the loss of military and civilian lives in the North East and caused delays to the rescue of our ChibokGirls and other citizens abducted by Boko Haram terrorists.

We therefore specifically call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the prosecution teams led by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice the Federal Government, the Judiciary and the Nigerian Bar Association to feel the pulse of the Nigerian public which wants all corruption cases speedily concluded. All these parties to successful corruption trial must stop delaying the judicial sanctions process.

BBOG CALLS ON ALL NIGERIANS TO CONTINUE TO USE THE HASHTAG #NigeriansHonourOurHeroes TO CELEBRATE AND ADVOCATE FOR THE WELFARE OF OUR TROOPS IN THE BATTLEFRONT:

We can confirm from our visit that our Nigeria Air Force can attain world class performance given all the tools and support necessary for its role in the defense and security of our country. We met highly trained, professional, motivated and inspiring air troop of the Nigerian Air Force. Quite significantly, they are mostly in their 20s and 30s and led by very distinguished team of officers. They were very delighted to meet members of our movement and several expressed gratitude to us for our advocacy. Some of the officials of NAF remembered how much we advocated on the issue of poor resourcing of the counter insurgency war and on the improvement of the welfare of our troops in the frontline of battle. Many of them were aware of our #NigeriansHonourOurHeroes initiative. We therefore enjoin all Nigerians to adopt the #NigeriansHonourOurHeroes initiative. We should all continue to support our heroes fighting the counter insurgency war and champion the cause for their welfare. We salute their patriotic service and sacrifice for our country and people.

Our four members have since safely returned to Abuja and we are grateful to both the Federal Government and more especially the Chief of Air Staff and his entire team at the Nigeria Air Force for making our Guided Tour a good learning experience for our citizens movement. We shall be writing to the Federal Government as part of the reporting of our participation in the Guided Tour.

We the members of BBOG shall continue with our daily sit out activities at the Unity Fountain. As we meet daily, we shall be monitoring and reacting to the activities of the Federal Government and the military in their efforts to rescue our Chibok Girls and all other abducted citizens.

Kindly read full report of our Guided Tour of the North East here:

Mr President, No More Excuses!
Mr President, No More Delays!
Mr President, Decide Now!!
Mr President, Act Now!!!
We Want More Results!!!!

Signed:
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls

AISHA YESUFU
OBY EZEKWESILI

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