Boko Haram: Coalition reacts as Army lifts suspension on UNICEF, wants compromised staff investigated

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The Coalition Against Terrorism in Nigeria (CATE), has reacted to the lift on ban ealier placed on the activities of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) by the Nigerian Army.

The Nigerian had on Friday suspended the activities of UNICEF in the north-eastern part of the country.

It accused the organisation of working for Boko Haram insurgents and sabotaging the war against insurgency.

However, in a dramatic u-turn, the army lifted the suspension in less than six hours, a decision it said followed “intervention by well-meaning Nigerians”.

Reacting to the development, CATE lauded the army for rescinding its decision.

Grabrial Onoja, the National President of the group while addressing a press conference on Saturday, called on international bodies to probe some compromised staff of UNICEF.

CATE also opined that there should also be a review of the organisations that have access to the areas affected by Boko Haram’s insurgency with a view to further vet their staffers

His statement below.

“On Saturday December 15, 2018 the Nigerian Army reversed a decision to indefinitely suspend the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) from the northeast of the country. Some hours preceding the reversal, on Friday December 14, 2018 we became aware that the Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole, leading the anti-terrorism war in the North-East of Nigeria had indefinitely suspended the operations of UNICEF in the area.

“UNICEF is one of the many international and indigenous organizations that are present in the North East, where the understanding is that each and every one of these organizations are involved in providing relief and succour to the persons affected by the years of Boko Haram’s insurgency and terrorism. This is a legitimate undertaken to the extent that actors stick to the roles for which they are accredited to maintain presence in that axis.

“The reason cited by the Nigerian Army for suspending UNICEF included the accusation that the organization was engaged in unwholesome activities that aided Boko Haram terrorists. According to a statement released by the Army, “There is credible information that some of them are indulging in unwholesome practices that could further jeopardise the fight against terrorism and insurgency, as they train and deploy spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers.”

“While we commend the Nigerian Army for taken the bold decision to reverse its suspension of UNICEF after earlier suspending it over its questionable activities, we think it is important that these infractions should be reviewed against the backdrop of Nigeria’s anti-terrorism legislation. Those that committed this act should be allowed to masquerade as staff of UNICEF to engage in activities that endangers troops, citizens and other organizations working in the northeast. The specific staffers that engaged in the unwholesome act of empowering terrorists must therefore be held to account even though their organization is allowed to keep operating in the region in the interest of the humanitarian needs of the population there.

“CATE is of the opinion that there should also be a review of the organizations that have access to the areas affected by Boko Haram’s insurgency with a view to further vet their staffers. This should include seeking collaboration with the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ascertain the level of interaction between terrorists and individuals working for these organizations, including tracking financial transactions that may be suspect.

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