Our military and killing sprees — Vanguard Editorial

KILLINGS in Nigeria have taken on bewildering dimensions. Massacres of innocent Nigerians in their communities by jihadists, herdsmen and bandit terrorists aside, we are worried about the rising orgy of killings involving the military itself.

The military are so cheaply killing and getting killed in the various theatres of conflict in our insecurity-riddled country. In the South-East, the military is invading communities in search of the so-called “unknown gunmen” and Eastern Security Network, ESN, operatives. Reports and allegations of indiscriminate targeting of unarmed civilians, especially young men, for killing are rampant.

The latest was the invasion of communities in Ogbaru, Anambra State last weekend where scores of youth were reportedly massacred between Tuesday and Sunday. We never hear any report of similar efforts to dislodge armed herdsmen who have forcefully set up camps in the forests of indigenous communities, killing people in their farms, raping and kidnapping for ransom.

Former abductee, the Primate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Samuel Kanu-Uche, recently narrated how criminal herdsmen operated freely despite the presence of the military and police units near their hideouts in Abia State. The forest invaders are spared, but it is those confronting them that are hunted down and killed along with other innocent youth.

In the North where terrorists have virtually gained the upper hand, our soldiers are regularly ambushed and slaughtered in staggering numbers. The latest was the 34 soldiers, eight mobile policemen and six locals killed while responding to a distress call from a mining site invaded by bandits in Shiroro, Niger State.

The military is obviously in crisis, and the authorities have now resorted to calling back reservists to lend their wealth of experience.

Why do Boko Haram, ISWAP and bandit terrorists find it so easy to ambush and kill our soldiers in such large numbers? After 13 years of fighting guerrilla-style Islamic terrorism and banditry, why is it that our armed forces are still vulnerable to the asymmetrical war style of terrorists?

Something must be deeply wrong and must be addressed. Both in 2021 and June this year, the Defence Headquarters and the Nigerian Army openly complained about growing disgruntlement within the armed forces, asking such officers to resign or be sacked.

The military authorities should ask themselves why many soldiers are getting disgruntled. Can the allegation of “biased” deployment and malicious use of soldiers in sections of the country be looked into?

Could allegations of corruption have affected the purchase of arms, training and welfare of our troops? Are the troops keeping to their professional rules of engagement in places like the South-East?

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