As a way of resolving its disagreement with the United Nations (UN), the Nigerian military has declared support for the global body’s operations in the insurgency-ravaged north-east region. Recent reports have suggested a squabble between the military and the UN following a search at the agency’s base in Maiduguri, Borno State by troops. But in a reconciliatory move yesterday, the military re-assured the UN agencies operating in the north-east of what they tagged as “support and security” in rendering humanitarian services to millions displaced persons.
The assurance was contained in a statement by the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, which was made available to journalists in Maiduguri yesterday. Gen. Attahiru said the “cordon and search” operations on UN humanitarian workers’ base was never intended to undermine the integrity of the UN that has been working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of displaced persons in the region.
According to the statement, “The Nigerian military’s attention has been drawn to some negative rumour against the UN agencies’ operations in the North-East, following our cordon and search operation in Pompomari bypass, Maiduguri. One of the mandates of the Nigerian military in the north-east theatre of operation is to provide security and support to the UN and other humanitarian agencies to discharge their duties. Their roles have been complementing the efforts of the Federal Government in restoring normalcy in the affected sub-region of the country. Mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that the incident that led to the peddling of misleading information in the social media does not occur again.”
This timely explanation of what happened at the UN building is helpful for the military that had been previously accused of abuses by Amnesty International in the prosecution of the war against terror in the northeast. Gen. Attahiru assured the UN agencies in the region of their safety at all times when he said, “We will continue to provide all necessary support and an enabling environment for the discharge of their humanitarian activities.” The UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter Lundberg said that the relationship of “collaboration and trust” with the Nigerian government was intact to support millions of vulnerable people in the north-east with life-saving humanitarian aid.
Lundberg announced this at the weekend at a joint press conference with Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State over the military’s “cordon and search” of UN Humanitarian workers’ base. He described the search as a tumultuous event that generated significant media coverage before it was resolved at a Security Council meeting. His words: “At this stage of resolutions, we are focused on the work ahead to ensure that millions of vulnerable people in the north-east are supported with life-saving humanitarian aid. Responding to the humanitarian needs of millions of people in the North-East remains our priority and our focus, each and every day. The humanitarian crises in Nigeria’s North-East and the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today, with 8.5 million people in need of assistance in 2017 in the worst affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe and 6.9 million targeted for humanitarian assistance.”