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Some heads must roll for Benisheikh

Once again the rest of us are left to wonder how a thing like the massacre in Benisheikh can happen. We wondered the same way…

Once again the rest of us are left to wonder how a thing like the massacre in Benisheikh can happen. We wondered the same way in the wake of the Baga, Bama and the Mamudo massacres. Each time the details raise more questions than answers. Who are those brazen, cold-hearted and murderous gunmen who have a stealthy way of unleashing their venom and vanishing into thin air, as if they are supernatural beings?
How do they do it considering that the areas within which they operate are under emergency rule and therefore more secure and fortified than other zones? How can they move in groups, heavily armed and most times dressed in army uniforms yet still manage to escape being countered by the real armed personnel sent there to fight them? It doesn’t make sense at all that the recent cold-blooded killing of over 160 locals and travelers by gunmen in Benisheikh should have happened the way it did.
Except if the response of a soldier who spoke to Daily Trust is the only explanation, one just can’t understand how these gunmen manage to achieve their murderous feat and then get away. According to the paper’s edition of September 19th,2013, a soldier seen at a bank in Damaturu said he escaped by the whiskers when the insurgents took them unawares and went away with their personal effects. But should soldiers in a war situation like battling the insurgency, in a state of emergency situation like that prevalent in the northeast, ever be unprepared for the enemy? What did it mean to be taken unawares when you should be on the alert 24 hours a day, ever ready to face the enemy?
Another indictment of the soldiers actions was a paragraph in the report that said the ‘Some soldiers who were thought to have been killed by the insurgents in crossfire reappeared yesterday. They fled to take cover when they ran out of ammunition.‘  Well their ‘relaxed state of unpreparedness and their cowardly escape in search of a hiding  place has cost the nation 161 innocent lives and rendered hundreds others displaced in their home towns. With shops also razed to the ground, many more have been sent back to cruel hands of poverty for now.
Still how did a convoy of 20 vehicles complete with armed men storm a roadside town like Benisheikh and operate for hours, killing and spreading mayhem without being checkmated? Is it plausible to say, like some soldiers did to reporters, that the insurgents had superior firepower so they had to retreat to reinforce (though no one saw them coming back).  What are we now learning about the state of our nation’s armed forces when a clear and present challenge like the insurgency cannot be faced by them?
For four months now the people of Borno and Yobe states have lived in full state of emergency. Adamawa had a partial taste of it, yet no one can say what had been achieved as far as quelling the insurgency since all we hear are bloody massacres like this recent one in Benisheikh? Yes there seems to be a return to normalcy in Maiduguri town but moving the theatre of war from the centre of town to the surrounding villages does not in any way spell victory. It only means the government has won the battle but is losing the war. For the passengers who were chased into the bushes and killed in cold blood, the war was an unfortunate reality of which they fell victim.
Whatever Governor Shettima said to assure fleeing Benisheikh residents, no one can blame them for not choosing to heed him. The government has clearly failed to safeguard their lives and property. And this is why the federal government must lift the state of emergency in Borno and Yobe states because the security failure in these states are make a mockery of the term. It is easier for people to safeguard themselves when they can move freely and are in a position to adopt the necessary measures. 
The lack of GSM (mobile phone) services alone has contributed in no small measure to some of the tragedies recorded since the emergency state was imposed on them. When people were able to talk to one another on phone and warn each other of impending danger, at least lives and limbs were saved. Today people drive headlong into death traps because there is no way to get them fore-warned.  Some unfortunate Borno residents were ironically killed while returning to their bases after going to Damaturu to make phone calls, how much a price must these people pay before they will be allowed to live normal lives?
As a response to this bloody Benisheikh massacre, mobile phone services must be returned to Borno state. It is no longer a luxury to own a mobile phone, and in a place like Maiduguri and environs, it could mean the difference between life and death. Just imagine how many of those 142 passengers could have made it home alive if they had been warned of the ambush in Benisheikh by residents? And imagine how many within the town itself, would have taken measures to help themselves, if they had a way to warn one another.
While our governments and security agencies are still trying to unravel the Beni-sheikh tragedy, this column insists that this bloody incident is one massacre too many and some heads have to roll for it. If the federal government will not do anything to hold some people to account for this cold-blooded killing of scores of Nigerians, then the following people should do the honourable thing and resign their appointments. These are the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff.
These three should directly take responsibility for the Benisheikh tragedy because they are the ones advising the government and overseeing the enhanced security situation there. They are also responsible for arming the soldiers fighting the insurgency under the joint task force. Since these soldiers claimed that they were so poorly armed that they had to run away to safety leaving the gunmen to have a field day killing innocent folk, someone has to take responsibility for their plight.
Someone should also be held to account for how insurgents came to be wearing the same uniform soldiers of the joint task force have been using since the beginning of the state of emergency in the North-east.four months ago, without any alarm raised that uniforms have gone missing. Unless these gunmen are not the insurgents as claimed, someone should account for how they freely acquire their uniforms and their superior firepower.
These three top Nigerians should take responsibility for this security failure.

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