Borno South Elders Back Ndume On 847 Slain Soldiers

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…Say Accusations Against Him Are Misplaced, Unconscionable

By Sadiq Umar – The Borno South Concerned Elders (BSCE) has sided with the Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Sen. Ali Ndume that there are evidential proofs of 847 slain soldiers buried at military cemetery in Borno State.

The group similarly faulted claims by the Amnesty International of a hidden mass burial, even as it condemned what it called the unwarranted attack and spurious allegations targeted at Sen. Ndume over his recent disclosure on the 847 slain soldiers.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Army had revealed that the committee discovered during it recent fact-finding mission to the northeast that 847soldiers had lost their lives and buried at military cemetery in the state, adding that there was no evidence of any secret mass burial as claimed by some organization working in the region.

However, the disclosure generated different reactions, including a rebuttal by the Army spokesman who has since recant. Also, Ndume was viciously attacked by a group that called itself National Democratic Front (NDF) who described Ndume’s revelations as an attempt  to divert attention from “his dishonourable contributions to Boko Haram.”

The group described the attacks on Ndume as “misplaced and unconscionable.”

It maintained that figures quoted by the Senator are clearly written on the roll-call of dead at the said military cemetery as factual proofs of the claim dating back to 2013.

Ndume had also said that the disclosure “was meant to elicit greater attention and support for the armed forces, especially now that the budget 2020 is under consideration, adding that there are more sensitive discoveries that would compel urgent legislative intervention in terms of funding to immediately strengthen the armed forces in order to consolidate the gains of the present administration’s fight against insurgency.

Chairman of the Borno South Concerned Elders, Alhaji Yakubu Kwanyang, in a statement, Sunday in Abuja described as unfortunate comments credited to one Dr. Bolaji Abdulkadir of the National Democratic Front, “who rather than addressing the substance of the committee’s findings resorted to “name-calling and spurious accusations.”

“Our initial reaction was to ignore the unwarranted invectives since it is clear that the author is largely ignorant of the situations in Borno and the role Sen. Ali Ndume has played and still playing to restore hope and better the lots of our people.

“While we appreciate honest and constructive criticism of public officers, especially the elected ones, we consider it irresponsible for anyone or group to engage in falsehood by making disparaging statement that impinges on the integrity of Senator Ali Ndume and the institution of the Senate. 

“For posterity, let me restate here that it is nonsensical to associate Sen. Ali Ndume with Boko Haram. As he had said before, he was not just a direct victim of Boko Haram’s atrocious activities having lost members of his immediate family, including his sister’s husband, he lost other innocent members of his constituency in Borno south to the murderous activities of the insurgents.

“It is on record and rather ironic also that he had to again suffer double jeopardy when he was maliciously framed and unjustly persecuted by political adversaries, the well-known men of power in both Borno and Abuja who did everything to end his political career but for the Almighty Allah and the good people of his senatorial district without whom the enemies would have succeeded.

“Sen. Ali Ndume’s only sin was for daring to aspire for greatness and standing for the truth. He has been vindicated by the court and have since moved on.

“Let me also state that many of the attacks arising from his disclosure of the senate committee findings, including that of NDF,  a pseudo-contractor posturing as NGO, are emotional rather than factual and are bereft of what ordinarily should elicit serious response.

Senator Ali Ndume had himself said the committee hastened to make known it preliminary findings in the hope that it would curry favourable attention to the plight of the soldiers, who by virtue of their current location could be considered as part of his constituents.

“The revelation of the figure of the slain heroes cannot be said to diminish our profound appreciation of their invaluable service to our fatherland, instead it is to prick the conscience of his colleagues in the chambers to respond positively by way of budgetary appropriation at the appropriate time,” Alhaji Kwanyang said.

Reacting further, the statement read: “On Wednesday 16th October 2019, an attention-seeking forum by the name National Democratic Front (NDF) made a press conference accusing Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume of in their words ‘diverting the world’s attention from his dishonorable contribution to Boko Haram insurgency.’ “This was as a result of Senator Ndume’s claim a day earlier that about 847 soldiers were lost in the fight against insurgency since 2013.

“For the record, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume led a combined committee of Army of the Senate and House of Representatives on oversight tour of military formations to Borno on 10 and 11th October 2019.

“This was in preparation for the 2020 budget defence before the National Assembly. Places visited by the joint committees included the military cemetery where names of slain heroes are on display. It is a public place where people go to offer prayers to the souls of fallen heroes.

“What Senator Ndume said was what he saw. His statement was in sympathy and support for Armed Forces as they sacrificed their comfort and lay their lives for the nation.

“He even defended the Army on the accusations going round that they do not care much about the welfare of the soldiers in warfront.

“The Senator also used the opportunity to call on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to increase the country’s defence budget, which he said, is rather insufficient. The full video of the Senator’s press briefing with the Senate press corps is on YouTube for concerned citizens to view.

“But the unfortunate statement signed by the groups Secretary General, Dr Bolaji Abdulkadir spits venomous words of hatred, mischief and outright falsehood against Sen. Ndume.

“On allegation that the Borno south senator had links with the insurgents, Ndume challenged the group to come up with proofs and let our laws be the judge.

“Senator Ndume stood trial for six years on false allegation and was exonerated of all blames by a federal high court, which the NDF in its reckless and malicious comments dismissed as a kangaroo judgment.

“But those who have faith in the country’s judicial system know better that the court remains the arbiter and the last hope of a common man.

“So, Dr. Abdulkadir and his sponsors may choose to disagree. And since the NDF claims to know better than the government and the state security that earlier prosecuted Ndume, BSCE challenge them to be patriotic enough and come out with facts to prove their claim.

“Dr. Abdulkadir appears to know what the rest of us did not know about the kidnap of the Chibok girls. We expect the security agencies to go after him and his forum by now. They should demand that he come out and tell the world what he knows about the kidnap of the Chibok girls. Perhaps, his spurious claims would help to unravel what took place.

“But it is curious that he had to wait for over 2000 days to make this allegation. From the bile in its statement, the NDF will not hesitate to prove a case against the Senator that will see him behind the bar or even six feet down. So please bring forth your proof.

“On the mischievous allegation that Senator Ndume ‘is hardly seen in Borno State’, again this statement smacks total ignorance and is as laughable as farcical because no lawmaker of Borno extraction can boast of surpassing Senator Ndume in frequency of visits to either his constituency or the state in the sixteen years of his membership of the National Assembly.

“Even in the heat of the insurgency when virtually all have vacated the state to ‘safer climes’ and hardly visit, Senator Ndume was travelling by road to Borno State because there was no flight to Maiduguri as at then.

The group expressed satisfaction over Sen Ndume’s representation of his people and urge him to keep up the good work and ignore distractions.

“If there is anyone whose utterances are insensitive and unworthy of being listened to, it is the NDF and I urge all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard all that was said by the forum on this issue and to be wary of information coming from them,” the group further said.

“There are available legal options to make the likes of Dr. Abdulkadir pay for his recklessness. We advise Sen. Ali Ndume to go ahead without hesitation toIt pursue that open option.

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