Speaking the Nations Mind

Most Insurgency News From North East ‘Fake’ – Group

4

A team of International journalists, Nigerian journalists, humanitarian workers and a coalition of Civil Society Organisations say it has observed that most of the news about insurgency from the North East is fake and ‘a direct opposite of the actual situation on the ground’.

The team led by Daniel Furnard during a media chat in Abuja delivered a report which contains its findings during a humanitarian assistance tour to communities of Gundumbali, Damasak, and Garshigar in Borno State for 10 days.

According to Furnard, team observed that the fake news emanating from the theatre of operation in North East gives the Boko Haram Terrorist a psychological boost and the audacity to make attempts at regrouping and launching attacks in communities.

He added that the news could also send the wrong message to the international community about the efforts of the Nigerian government in confronting the Boko Haram threats to our sovereignty as a nation.

He however urged citizens to interrogate news content before circulating some as the terrorists thrive on the gullibility of reasonable persons who do not cross-check their facts to reach out to the rest of the world with their falsehood.

See the full report below:

FACT FINDING REPORT ON INSURGENT ACTIVITIES IN BORNO STATE (GUNDUMBALI, DAMASAK, AND GARSHIGAR) CARRIED OUT BY INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS, LOCAL NGOS, SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS AND CSOs.

Preamble:

In an attempt to assess the effectiveness of the military operations in North East Nigeria, a team of international journalist led by Daniel Furnard and his colleagues, Nigerian journalists, humanitarian workers and a coalition of Civil Society Organisations at the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance in North East Nigeria toured the communities of Gundumbali, Damasak, and Garshigar in Borno State for 10 days.

Introduction:

Given the avalanche of conflicting reports emanating from the North East, a team of international journalists including Daniel Furnard, Francois Deburo, local journalists, humanitarian workers and a coalition civil society organisations undertook a tour of some communities in Borno state in a bid to form an independent assessment of the operations of the Nigeria military, the current state of the war against insurgency and conflicting reports in the media. The group also consisted of organisations such as Victims and Disaster Management Initiative (VDMI), Peace Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Initiative (PRRI), Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency as well as participants drawn from various media houses in Nigeria, as well as select social media influencers in the country.

It suffices to state that the overarching objective of the tour was to put paid to speculations about Boko Haram occupying territories in some communities in North East Nigeria after some attempts by the terrorists to invade Nigerian communities under the control of the Nigerian Army. Consequently, the team decided that there would be no military escort for the duration of the project. It should be noted that the coalition of CSOs that participated in the tour have been actively involved in humanitarian activities in the region and also conversant with the terrain and guided by local guide selected on the spot.

Activities:

The team was on the ground for one week beginning from 25th September to October 4th, 2018. In the course of the trip, the members of the group were divided into clusters and each with a local tour guide that assisted with language barrier challenge. Each cluster visited communities and observed their daily activities whilst all the activities were videoed and pictures collected .

The team discovered that there is no territory under the control of Boko Haram terrorists anywhere within the geographical entity called Nigeria . Using the case of Garshigar as an example, the town enjoys relative peace. Here, indigenes went about their regular businesses, but for the presence of military personnel in strategic locations. The team also interacted with soldiers from Nigeria Army’s 145 battalions on the ground, and they gave insights into their operations in these communities. In the case of Garshigar, it was gathered that Boko Haram terrorists have made several attempts to gain entry into the town, but were repelled by the Nigeria Army. One of the commanders of the 145 Battalion also hinted that some years back, Garshigar used to serve as one of the training bases of the Boko Haram terrorists until the Nigeria Army dislodged them, hence the repeated attempt to attack the community, but the Nigeria Army has always repelled them.

In the case of Damasak, indigenes went about their regular businesses without fear. The visible signs of unrest were the buildings that were demolished in previous attacks. As a fact, farming and fishing activities are ongoing in large scale. Damasak is bustling with economic activities, so much so that people from neighbouring communities of Dogomolu, Douro, and Chemba frequent Damasak to trade. There was also a strong military presence in the town at strategic places. Upon interacting with the indigenes’, they heaped praises on the efforts of soldiers in the military base stationed in Damasak.

The team also observed a high return rate of people that were once displaced by Boko Haram terrorist in times past. Also, there are lots of construction works ongoing in homes and schools. There was also a high presence of humanitarian workers providing health services in the rebuilt general hospital.

In Gudumbali, the story is also the same as that of Garshigar, where Boko Haram terrorists have made several attempts to gain entry into the town. It was discovered that two weeks earlier, (September 8) there was an attempt by the Boko Haram terrorist to attack the town, but they met stiff resistance from the Nigeria Army. Scores of indigenes were seen going about their regular business. There was also a heightened security presence in the community which is as a result of the constant attempts by dissident Boko Haram terrorist to launch an attack in the town.

Upon interaction with soldiers stationed in the town, the singled out the Chief of Army Staff for praise as they stated that he has been consistent in matching his words with action. They stated that he takes the issues of welfare and military hardware seriously, hence why the soldiers have been able to repeal several Boko Haram attacks in these communities.

Recommendations:

The team observed that more people are still returning to these communities and it is expedient for the government to continue to provide essential amenities by rebuilding schools and hospitals. It is also recommended both local and international humanitarian organizations should come to the aid of these communities as it continues the rebuilding process, and even a return to their sources of livelihood to make life meaningful for them and for them to be able to carry-on with farming activities.

Conclusion:

The team observed that most of the news emanating from the North East is fake news and a direct opposite of the actual situation on the ground. As a group conversant with the activities of the Nigeria Army in North East Nigeria, it should be stated that if this trend is not arrested, it could affect humanitarian works in the area.

Also, it was observed that the fake news emanating from the theatre of operation in North East gives the Boko Haram Terrorist a psychological boost and the audacity to make attempts at regrouping and launching attacks in communities. It could also send the wrong message to the international community about the efforts of the Nigerian government in confronting the Boko Haram threats to our sovereignty as a nation.

Consequently, it is advised that citizens must, therefore, interrogate news content before circulating some as the terrorists thrive on the gullibility of reasonable persons who do not cross-check their facts to reach out to the rest of the world with their falsehood.

It was also observed that the troops are in high spirit and well-equipped with arms and ammunition. The fighting forces also stated that the Chief of Army Staff is a regular guest in the theatre of operations. The Nigeria Army deserves special commendation as well as other sister security agencies. The presence of the Army is well felt everywhere and recent political activities across the country are clear indications that Boko Haram has lost control of the fight which they were practically in charge sometimes in 2015.

Daniel Furnard

Team Leader

Comments