Borno South senator, Ali Ndume, on Tuesday said some non-governmental organisations (NGO) are aiding the operations of Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.
He made the statement during a press briefing at the National Assembly.
Mr Ndume, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, had just returned from Maiduguri, the state capital. He was speaking on the outcome of the trip when he said there is evidence that NGOs in the state work with Boko Haram.
“Another area that the Senate will look into is the allegation that the various NGOs in that area are conniving with the insurgents – providing them information, logistics and so many things,” said Mr Ndume, an All Progressives Congress senator.
“I have been critical about this and people have told me to be careful but it has come out now that one or two of the so-called NGOs operating there are actually aiding and abetting and supporting the insurgents. But we will do an investigation and we will hear if we have the evidence.
“So far, we have evidence. we just want to make it credible. The evidence is there and the common questions are even there. I have asked them before – when Chibok girls were released, we were very happy and jubilating… some people went and negotiated for their release…,” he said.
Mr Ndume’s claims come weeks after the Nigerian government launched a crackdown on some NGOs operating in the northeast, accusing them of “aiding and abetting” Boko Haram terrorists.
The Nigerian army had repeatedly accused some of the NGOs in the region of breaching security and sabotaging ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the northeast.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had also said it was tightening its regulation of the finances of organisations operating in the region.
Last year, another northern lawmaker, Gudaji Kazaure, also alleged that some of the NGOs operating in the northeast aid the terrorists.
‘Nobody is safe’
Also speaking at Tuesday’s press briefing, Mr Ndume said the federal government negotiated the release of the Dapchi girls, leaving behind one – Leah Sharibu.
“When Dapchi girls were abducted, only one was remaining but you negotiated for the rest. Then what happened with the only one?
“Government cooperated. I’m sure that the one that the money that was paid came from the government but those in-between, what are they talking about? They want to create problem? If I am the one negotiating and I have 100 Muslims that can be released, for that one Christian that will not be released, I’ll cut off the deal.
“If you are giving me these children, give all of them to me but if you are keeping one, keep all of them. But nobody is talking. Everybody is just saying bring back Leah. These are the questions that should be asked.
“Nobody is safe,” he said.
Mr Ndume said about 847 soldiers have been killed by the insurgents between 2013 and now. But he debunked reports of secret mass burial of soldiers in the state.
“The war is won but Boko Haram needs to be defeated. They don’t only attack civilians but the military as well.
“So far, from the record we saw in the cemetery, I think we lost over 847 soldiers – by their record there… and that is in that cemetery alone.
“That is from 2013 to date. And just so you know they have cemeteries elsewhere where they bury victims. But that allegation that there is a mass burial is not true. Nigerians don’t do that. Nigerian army will never do that.
“In fact, if any of them is missing, they go out to search and get the person before declaring whether or not he is dead and even if he is dead, they make attempts to retrieve the body. We went, we asked questions. That is not true.”
The lawmaker lamented the amount allocated to the defence and army.
President Muhammadu Buhari had proposed N100 billion for Defence and N38 billion for the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
Mr Ndume said this is appalling and shows a lack of seriousness to tackle insecurity.
“We are in a war. When you are in a war situation and you are budgeting N10.3 trillion and you are allocating less than one per cent to Defence, that does not show that you are serious about it.
“Defence is allocated N100bn. I was hoping that its 10 per cent. One per cent of 10.33 trillion should b 130 billion. Right now, IDPs are moving from unsafe zones to what they think is a safe zone and that is putting more pressure on the government.
“International communities have requested $848 million. So far, the international communities that are not affected, have donated $547 million – that is over N140 billion – while the Nigerian government is budgeting N38 billion for NEDC.
“If more than half of the budget is given to security, it is worth it. Because without it, all these things that you are doing – infrastructure, hospitals – will not work. Better kits, bulletproof vests, better riffles cannot be provided for with the sum of Nbillion,” he said.
Mr Ndume commended the efforts of the Nigerian military to repel the insurgents in the state, describing their commitment as unparalleled.