Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, yesterday, expressed concern about the increasing sophistication and spread of the terrorist group, Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), in the state. Zulum said the federal government must do everything in its power to defeat ISWAP now, or else the menace constituted by the Boko Haram terrorist sect would be nothing compared to what the group would do when they gain stability. He advised the government to seek external help in the fight against insurgency, including hiring mercenaries, saying there is nothing wrong with such. He cited the fact that advanced countries, like United States and United Kingdom, sometimes sought external help.
The governor took a swipe at the current recruitment process into the armed forces and other security agencies, saying unless it is addressed, the security situation may just get worse.
In a related development, the federal government, yesterday, said an analysis by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) between 2020 and 2021 had revealed some 96 financiers of terrorism in the country, 424 associates of the financiers, and involvement of about 123 companies and 33 bureaux de change. It said the inquiry also identified 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and seven co-conspirators. Zulum, who spoke yesterday at the State House, Abuja, during a media briefing, however, attributed the successes so far recorded against insurgency in his state to the free access he had to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the governor, “Notwithstanding all the contributions of the federal government, we still have some challenges. One, I said it before, a growing number of ISWAP in some parts of the state is a matter of great concern to everybody. Why? They are in the shores of the Lake Chad, again in southern Borno State. Luckily enough, I was told there was military deployment yesterday (Wednesday) to southern Borno State to fight the insurgents in the Tudun Katarangwa.
“But I think this is the early warning system. We shouldn’t allow ISWAP to grow. ISWAP are more sophisticated, more funded and they’re more educated. And we should do everything possible to defeat ISWAP; otherwise, what Boko Haram did will be a child’s play.
“This is an early warning system. Nigerian Army has to re-strategise and defeat ISWAP. ISWAP will be a threat to the entire nation, because of the proximity of Sub-Saharan Africa. They are coming from Libya and others resettling here.” Zulum listed various successes recorded by his administration. He said before the advent of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the insurgency had triggered acute humanitarian and post-displacement crisis, with devastating social and economic consequences on the population, which further deepened fragility and poverty in the North-east region.
Zulum said the outcome of the recovery and peace-building assessment by the World Bank, European Union (EU), and the United Nations (UN) revealed that the total sum of $6.9 billion was lost as a result of the insurgency in the entire North-east states, with Borno incurring over two-thirds of the losses.