According to President Buhari’s critics, the only thing he’s been consistent about in the last five years is his ability to blame the wrong party in defence of his appointees. I never felt the urge to agree with them until this time. The atrocity in Auno and it’s tragic consequences were totally unpardonable. No one would expect blame to be apportioned anywhere apart from between the insurgents and those who facilitated their attacks, that is the Nigerian Army.
However, we all heard that when President Muhammadu Buhari went to condole Borno people, over the painful and unfortunate loss of lives, limbs and property, he marred his good gesture with the accusation that traditional rulers and other community leaders were to blame for their failure to provide enough intelligence to the security forces.
Hear him: ‘This Boko Haram or whatever they are, cannot come to Maiduguri or environs without the local leadership knowing because traditionally the local leadership is in charge of security in their own respective areas. So with my understanding of our culture, I wonder how Boko Haram survives up till now…’
This was insensitive, to say the least since no one would expect a sympathiser to look at the bereaved in the face and say ‘You caused this on yourself because you didn’t do this or that’.
And especially not in a situation where the victims had nothing to do with their bad luck. I mean let’s look at the story as reported by various news media. Some groups of travellers were stopped from reaching their destination, which is Maiduguri town, by soldiers who insisted they were enforcing a curfew. This was at 4.45pm when the curfew officially begins at 6pm and ends at 6am every day. No reason was given for this early imposition of the curfew but the poor travellers all obliged, and after prayers and other activities, some answered the call of nature by falling asleep in their respective vehicles.
Suddenly, at around 9.50 pm, the insurgents or some other murderers disguising as them, descended on this poor, unarmed crowd and started killing them. The first thing you’d like to ask is where are the soldiers who forcibly imposed an early curfew on these poor commuters who are now being killed in cold blood?
No doubt about it, if these people hadn’t been forced to stop at Auno, they would have made their way into Maiduguri before the 6 O’Clock curfew commenced, because Auno is just 25 Kilometres away from their destination. But they were forced to stop and observe an early curfew and when they have ambushed the curfew enforcers were nowhere to be seen.
According to eyewitnesses, after attacking the travellers, the insurgents went for a house to house search, collecting valuables and also killing some of their victims. Others shot a rocket-propelled grenade at a tanker loaded with petrol which instantly burst out in flames.
Yet while all these were going on, the soldiers were nowhere to be found. It was almost as if they deliberately made way for Boko Haram to do what they wished with the travellers and the locals, or maybe they were part of the attackers. Anything is possible in such a situation because even if they abandoned their role of enforcing the curfew, in the time it took the attackers to search, kill and maim Auno residents, some people might have called these military men for help, but it never came.
This is why I see no reason why anyone should be held to blame for the Auno massacre but the soldiers stationed there. As we have heard, they not only imposed a curfew on travellers who would have made it home on time but they also abandoned them to their devices when death and destruction came.
If we were a country were people take responsibility for their failures, General Buratai would have done the first honourable thing and resign over the Auno massacre. And if he decides not to resign, as he has obviously done, then PMB should have done the second honourable thing by sacking him.
For any way you look at it, it’s the army personnel, that’s on the ground at Auno who caused and facilitated the tragedy that happened on Sunday night.
I was not surprised to hear that PMB was booed in Maiduguri when he went, there is enough anger among the people at the way his military is now part of the problem, rather than the solution in Borno. And even if the booing crowd was rented by PDP elements, as some people claim, it says a lot about the mindset of the people today that they allowed themselves to be rented.
There was a time when no one could tempt them to say a word against PMB. But that time is past. Despite the obvious failures recorded against the insurgency, lately, the president has refused to sack his service chiefs and give the war against Boko Haram a new lease on life.
And whoever PMB chooses to blame for intelligence failures, or it’s attendant tragedies, we know for sure that his army is 100% liable for the bloodshed recorded in Auno. The least the Federal government should do is to take stock of the victims and plan adequate compensation for their families. May their worthy and innocent souls be rewarded with Divine Mercy, amin.