Controversy has been dogging the presence of some 30 tanks that each has the name of the United Nations (UN) boldly written on it in some parts of the country on their way to the north-east to intensify the counter-insurgency.


While some are of a strong opinion that the tanks are parts of the contributions of the UN to the country with a view to bringing to an end the war against terrorism, the military source faulted the claim and said “those tanks belong to Nigeria”.


“I have it on a good authority that the United Nations has donated 30 tanks from its Sudan excesses equipment operations centre to Nigeria and some of the tanks are already in the country,” the source said.


All efforts to get the official reaction of the Defence Headquarters to the controversial donation could not yield any result because the line of its director of information, Major General Chris Olukolade, was not available and the SMS sent was neither acknowledged nor replied.


But a serving general who is playing a prominent role in the counter-insurgency operation faults the source but asked for anonymity “because I am not in the position to speak for the military”.


“The UN will never supply arms or ammunition to any country at war. This is simply because the UN is an impartial body in all disputes. Whoever tells you that the UN is helping Nigeria with 30 tanks does not know how the UN operates or he is trying to be deliberately mischievous.


“The truth of the matter is that since Nigerian troops are through with our operations in Sudan, we are trying to repatriate all our tanks and other equipment in that country. The fact that you see the UN boldly written on them does not make them property of the UN. As a rule, any country contributing to the UN peacekeeping operation is expected to go there with tanks and other ammunition and the UN colour will be painted on them and including the name “UN” for identification during the conflicts, and, once the operation is over, the contributing countries have the right to repatriate all that they had made available. We have our tanks all over the countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.”


Meanwhile, there were reports that Cameroon was negotiating with Boko Haram. A prominent member of the parliament, Abba Boukar Malla, has been reportedly making contacts with the terrorists.


According to African Confidential reports, the Cameroonian government has mandated a member of the ruling party, Malla, to negotiate with the terrorists for ransoms for the hostages they seized in a raid on Lokofata village on July 27.


“But all contact with Boukar Malla, who acted as an intermediary with the militants before, was lost until he was ‘released’ by Boko Haram on August 26. He brought ‘good news’; he told the press that Francoise-Agnes Ali, wife of the top minister and confidant of President Paul Biya, Ahmadou Ali, and other hostages were safe and well. The government denies negotiating with Boko Haram or paying ransoms,” African Confidential reported.