Following the Boko Haram onslaught which left over 30 stranded travellers dead and over 18 vehicles burnt in Auno, a village 24 km from Maiduguri, the House of Representatives on Wednesday asked that the tragedy be investigated.
The House also asked the president to declare a state of emergency on security and tasked its committee on defence to investigate the cause of the low morale among troops in the North-east.
Auno killings, as media reports now call it, occurred last Sunday when many travellers had to pass the night in Auno, after soldiers had locked the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway gates, which they lock at the curfew time, 6 p.m.
But the gates, designed to check the influx of Boko Haram insurgents at night, became the military’s major undoing last Sunday.
As charred corpses littered the scene of the massacre, so did burnt vehicles, after the marauders opened fire on the unsuspecting travellers.
The insurgents also reportedly abducted many travellers, mostly women after setting vehicles ablaze.
Dissatisfied with this, Mohammed Monguno, the House Chief Whip, moved a motion, arguing that the attack was avoidable.
He added that by abandoning the travellers to their fate on the night, the military lost guard of its responsibility to protect the citizens.
Backing him, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) said, among the vehicles stranded at the checkpoint, was a tanker conveying petroleum products to Maiduguri owned by the military. He wondered why the military could detain its own truck and leave it at the mercy of insurgents.
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He also alleged that the checkpoint was closed 15 minutes before the scheduled time, while also faulting the laxity in intelligence gathering by the troops.
“It is painful for leaders to stay in their comfort zone while their people are slaughtered,” Mr Jaha said. “This issue is of national importance. It is the North-east today. Nobody knows where it will affect next,” he added.
To defend itself against insurgents, the army had adopted a new strategy of withdrawing to “super camps,” an alternative to the poorly constructed military barracks in rural areas.
Mr Jaha wondered why the military introduced “super camps” in the Auno area while closing checkpoints.
The House asked its committee on defence to investigate the rationale behind super camps.
The House also urged the military authority “to henceforth stop the keeping of commuters overnight at a particular period on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road and allow them proceed on their journeys after 6 p.m.”
On his part, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), the Minority Leader of the House, reiterated the call for the removal of service chiefs.
He said the military commanders are bereft of ideas.
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