As the federal government mulls not extending the emergency rule imposed on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, which is due to lapse next month, the military has warned against such a decision.
THISDAY had exclusively reported on Sunday that the presidency would not seek an extension of the emergency rule, which President Goodluck Jonathan, in line with Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution, imposed on the three North-east states in May 14, 2013.
Following the president's request for an extension, the National Assembly in November last year, pushed it forward for another six months.
However, a top military source confided in THISDAY yesterday that despite the fact that the insurgency in the three states could be tackled with the Terrorism Prevention Act, the Nigerian Army Act and the powers of the National Security Agencies Act, as being contemplated by the federal government, the non-extension of the emergency rule in the terror-stricken states could hamper the routing of the insurgents.
The source spoke just as the Northern Elders' Forum (NEF) accused the federal government of playing politics with the state of emergency imposed on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
According to the source, the federal government and the opposition should weigh the consequences of lifting the state of emergency in the volatile region before going ahead to do so.
He said it would be suicidal to lift the state of emergency and expect the same level of troops' deployment and engagement, "even though we are expecting the Anti-terrorism law to be enforced."
"They should weigh the implications of that decision (non-extension of the emergency rule) because if you read the emergency declaration statement of President Jonathan, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was given full military powers to increase troops deployment.
"Consequently, you have to bear in mind that lifting the emergency rule automatically implies withdrawal of troops. Now you begin to ask what those opposed to this want, since they are even complaining that there are not enough troops on ground," he added.
Speaking further on the issue, he said: "Can you imagine if we pull out the ones we have, what will then remain. Also, what these people don't know is that most soldiers are looking forward to being withdrawn back to their bases so that they can return to their normal duties. Then all the noise-makers will know that they have shot themselves in the foot.
"They don't even understand the implication of what they are requesting, because as they are complaining that there are not enough troops on ground to cover the area. One of the implications is that the troops reduction will begin. The troops are already stretched, and they can be redirected to other areas.
"Are they saying that the police and normal level of troops can handle the situation? If that is what they want, then that will be fine and let's see how it turns out. All the police stations have been burnt but I will not be surprised if it is the same police force that is urging against the extension of the state of emergency.
"However, they must be warned that it can leave that flank of the country open and on the long run, they (insurgents) will consolidate and advance to the other parts of the country. Nowhere will be safe then, if you allow them to create such safe haven as they had before the emergency rule. I am sure you will not like to imagine the consequences," he said.
It was also gathered that the military top brass considered the abduction of pupils of Government Girls’ Secondary School (GGS), Chibok in Borno State as an attempt to embarrass the military.
Some military officers who spoke with THISDAY on the abduction accused the Borno State Government, working in collaboration with the locals of kidnapping the girls in order to push their agenda of "stopping at all cost, the extension of the state of emergency."
"There are two things those opposed to the state of emergency want; one of them is to score a political point, that the state of emergency was not necessary in the first place.
"The message they are trying to add is that they can seek solution to the terrorism locally. Even this kidnap of the children, if you are following it up looks like a locally planned hatchet job to rubbish the work of the military and prove that they are not needed," a top military officer said.
Meanwhile, the NEF has attributed the unending security challenges in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States to politics.
It also criticised the ongoing National Conference, saying it was not convened based on the recommendations made by Nigerians but to suit the purpose of its conveners.
Speaking in a telephone interview with THISDAY in Kaduna yesterday, spokesman of NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said the state of emergency in the three states had always been political and that was why the security agents had failed to contain the insurgents.
According to him, further extension of the state of emergency will amount to political extension, as doing so will be of little significance to security of the states.
Abdullahi said: “Nigerians want to know why the army or the security agencies, up till now, almost three years into this insurgency, have failed to control it.
“The weakness is that it appears to us that there is insufficiency in men, insufficiency in the equipment of war and lack of motivation of the men in the war front.
“As far as we are concerned, the announcement about all these emergency rule and so on, appears to be politically motivated, perhaps this is the reason why they are not taking adequate measures to make sure that there is adequacy of troops, equipment and motivation .
“This is what we considered many months ago and the Northern Elders' Forum advised Mr. President on which direction to go. Apparently other advisers from the other side are more concerned about the political objectives.
“From all the statements that are coming out, there is a political motive behind the insurgency and the way it is going. So to us, there is now an indication that this politics is being played by the administration to force itself into power in 2015.”
Also commenting on the National Conference, Abdullahi said the conference was convened to serve a selfish agenda.
“The conference is not a representative conference. It is a conference designed to suit the whims and caprices of those who put it together.
“We also criticise the conference from the point of view that it is not convened based on the recommendations of Nigerians. The committee that went round the country to collate the views of Nigerians at various public sittings wrote a report that the Nigerian people want a conference that two-thirds of the delegates are elected and the remaining ones nominated.
“That was rejected and those who put the conference together decided to write the names they wanted.
“Constitution making is a serious business, you don’t do it in three months. I have not seen any country that has done a constitution in 12 weeks. The conferences we had before lasted one year while the other one lasted for one-and-a-half years.
“This particular conference has already spent five weeks and there is only seven weeks remaining and they are just going into a committee stage and I don’t see how any serious deliberation can take place,” he said.