The Chief of Army Staff, Lieut. Gen. Tukur Buratai says the military is working hard to succeed in meeting up with the December deadline of defeating the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East in spite of the renewed bombings by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
Gen. Buratai disclosed this when he met with officers of the One Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria on Saturday, October 24.
He also set up a Board of Inquiry to investigate alleged involvement of officers and soldiers in partisan politics especially during the 2015 elections.
He said the board would investigate the alleged unprofessional and unethical conduct of some Army personnel during and after elections, especially their relationship with the political class with the aim of sanctioning such officers.
Gen. Buratai explained that the essence of the probe is to prevent future unprofessional conduct by officers and men in the performance of their constitutional roles, stating that any officer found wanting in such unprofessional act would be punished according to military laws and ethics.
The meeting is meant for the army boss to interact with the officers in the units and formations about their operational procedure. As expected of him, he will talk to the officers, listen to them and identify with their needs.
Addressing the officers, the army boss charged them to be professionally responsive and show exemplary leadership to the soldiers.
He also stressed the need for them to collaborate with other security agencies in the fight against the insurgents and other related crimes across the country, charging the officers to maintain professionalism, vigilance and remain apolitical in the discharge of their duties.
General Buratai maintained that the role of the Nigerian Army would remain only to protect the sovereignty of the country and not to engage in any form of politics.
The One Division of the Nigerian Army covers Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Zamfara and Sokoto States.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has set up a board of inquiry to investigate alleged involvement of officers and soldiers in partisan politics especially during the April 11 elections.
Lt. General Buratai disclosed this when he met with officers of the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria on Saturday.
He said that the board would investigate the alleged unprofessional and unethical conduct of some Army personnel during and after elections, especially their relationships with the political class with the aim of sanctioning such officers.
Lt. General Buratai explained that the essence of the probe was to prevent future unprofessional conduct by officers and men in the performance of their constitutional roles, stating that any officer found wanting in such unprofessional act would be punished according to military laws and ethics.
He also restated that the Nigerian Army has been working hard to succeed in meeting up with the December deadline of defeating the Boko Haram insurgents in the north east in spite of the renewed bombings by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
Buratai also stressed the need for them to collaborate with other security agencies in the fight against insurgency and other related crimes across the country, charging the officers to maintain professionalism, vigilance and remain apolitical in the discharge of their duties.
In line with his vision of maintaining a strong and professional force, Lt. General Buratai maintained that the role of the Nigerian Army would remain only to protect the sovereignty of the country and not to engage in any form of politics.
The Nigerian Army has wielded the big stick on one of its own, Brigadier General Enitan Ransome-Kuti, for failure to perform military duties.
A court martial on Thursday convicted, dismissed and jailed the officer over the loss of Baga in Borno State to Boko Haram insurgents early this year.
Brig. Gen. Ransome-Kuti, son of renowned late activist, Beko Ransome-Kuti, was arraigned before the military court, sitting in Abuja in May, alongside other officers and men charged with cowardice and negligent performance of military duty under section 62b of the Armed Forces Act.
The court however, dismissed the charge of cowardice, following a no-case submission by the defendant, saying the officer was right in withdrawing his troops in the face of superior firepower from Boko Haram terrorists.
He was, however sentenced to six-month imprisonment for loss of equipment to the extremist sect and dismissed from service.
Femi Falana, a renowned lawyer, assisted by a retired army Major, Femi Oyebanji, represented the convicted General during the trial.
Mr Falana told Premium Times on Friday morning that his team would review the judgment, which he described as contradictory.
He promised to provide further details later.
It would be recalled that many of the soldiers who faced the court martial recently had their cases reviewed and pardoned by the military and thereafter reabsorbed into the Nigeria Army.
Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has inspected the completed work at the General Hospital in Damagum, headquarters of Fune Local Government Area of Yobe State, north-east Nigeria.
The hospital, which was marked for upgrade in 2013 to serve accident victims on the busy Kano-Maiduguri highway as well as cater for the growing population of the area and its environs, had long been completed with the award of a 93.2 million Naira contract of equipping the hospital.
Inspecting the hospital which had been expanded and equipped with latest health facilities, the Governor expressed satisfaction with both the expansion work as well as the equipment.
Governor Gaidam urged the hospital authority to cultivate good maintenance culture on the facilities. He also directed the Chairman of Fune Local Government Council to ensure frequent power supply in the hospital and also directed the Secretary to the State Government to supply a generator to the hospital to ensure regular power supply in the upgraded hospital.
The Governor noted that the aim of upgrading the hospital was to make health care solutions closer to the increasing population of the area and to also attend to emergency and accident cases along the busy highway. He expressed hope that the objectives of the project would be achieved.
Taking the Governor round the completed and equipped hospital, the Senior Special Assistants (SSA) to the Governor on Health Matters, Dr Mohammed Bello Kawuwa, appreciated Governor Gaidam’s commitment to upgrading clinics, dispensaries and health care centres across the state to the status of a General Hospital.
Mr Kakuwa said that five hospitals were being reconstructed to be upgraded and equipped across the state and hoped that when completed, health care services would be closer to the people within the state and beyond.
Other hospitals which had been upgraded include; the Specialists’ Hospital in Damaturu, Jakusko, Dapchi and Buni-Yadi, whose work was stalled by the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents in addition to the new 200-bed ultramodern hospital in Damaturu, the state capital.
The Nigerian Army has deradicalized over 200 Boko Haram insurgents from November 2014 till date.
This was revealed by the Commander of the 28 Task Force Brigade in Mubi, Adamawa State, Brigadier General Victor Ezuegwu at the sensitisation organized by the Army Headquarters, Department of Civil Military Affairs in Mubi.
Brigadier General Ezugwu said that the event was in line with the presidential directives to the military to accomplish the defeat of Boko Haram insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria before the end of 2015.
While delivering his paper at the event which was held at the Palace of the Emir of Mubi, Dr. Isa Abubakar, the representative of the Chief of Civil/Military Affairs, Col. Victor O. Olatunji, said that the aim of the seminar was to sensitize all stakeholders on the need for cordial working relationship between the civil populace and the Nigerian Army.
Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant Kenneth Minimah, has denied media reports that troops sent to Sambisa forest in Borno State have retreated due to deadly mines planted by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Briefing reporters during the commissioning of the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Medical Centre in Kaduna State on Monday, General Minimah insisted that the military had neither retreated nor stopped the onslaught against the Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest or other parts of the north-east.
The Chief of Army Staff said that the assault on terrorists in Sambisa forest was still on, as more troops and equipment have been deployed to enhance the speedy operation to flush out the terrorists from their last known stronghold.
Before he commissioned the Medical Centre, the Army Chief expressed optimism that the facility would enhance the status of the Peacekeeping Centre, making it a ‘centre of excellence’.
He, therefore, called on the personnel to make judicious use of the medical facility.
On his part, the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Michael Zenner, explained that the decision by his country to donate the medical centre to the Nigerian Army was due to the bilateral relations between Germany and Nigeria especially in the areas of military support.
Mr Zenner commended the Nigerian government for conducting peaceful and credible elections which he said was the best ever in the history of the nation’s electoral process.
While calling on the incoming government of General Muhammadu Buhari to consolidate on the democratic success, the German Ambassador said his country was readiness to continue to partner with Nigeria to further develop oil-rich nation’s economy and democracy.
Heavily armed members of the Boko Haram terrorist group attacked a military checkpoint in Gombe on Saturday, forcing residents and soldiers to flee the area.
Fleeing residents and security sources told reporters that explosions and gunfire were heard after the fighters overwhelmed the checkpoint at the edge of the city, which has been bombed before but has never had the insurgents attempt to take it over.
Reuters quoted a witness, Abdul Hassan, as saying that soldiers ran away after the checkpoint was overwhelmed. The militants then burned down a police station on the outskirts of town, he said.
“I crossed a river and ran into the hills,” he said. “I’m still there and I can hear the fighting.”
Other residents have been forced to stay indoors, with another witness, Hussaina Maji, saying she was unable to leave her house for fear of being caught in crossfire.
“There are gun shot sounds everywhere and heavy artillery fire. People are running down the streets from the area which under attack, The whole town is in a state of panic,” resident Godfret Obeate told Reuters by telephone.
Security authorities have not confirmed the attack and the number of casualties is unknown.
The Boko Haram sect has continued to attack communities in the north-east region of Nigeria, as it pushes for an Islamic state, posing a grave security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Thousands have been killed while hundreds have been kidnapped, with the group increasing its threats in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The countries have formed a Multinational Joint Force to battle the insurgents.
Nigeria’s general elections was last week postponed, with the electoral body citing security operative’s advice and request for a shift to enable them secure towns in the north-east before the elections.
The military had told the Independent National electoral Commission that it could not guarantee the safety of lives and property in the region during elections, demanding for six weeks to degrade the activities of the terrorist group.
On Thursday, the West African Allied Forces led by the Nigerian military, supported by Chad, Niger and Cameroon, stormed the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, killing a good number of insurgents.
A top military source told Channels Television that the air forces bombarded the insurgents, before ground forces moved in and incapacitated the insurgents.
Already the insurgents have been pushed out of Gamboru which lies on the Nigerian border with Cameroon.
Boko Haram attacked a village in Chad on Friday, the first known lethal attack in that country by the sect, which killed several people including a local chief according to residents and security forces.
Satellite images released on Thursday by human rights organisation, Amnesty International, suggested that there was a wide scale destruction by Boko Haram insurgents in Baga, as a result of last week’s attack.
“In Baga, a densely populated town less than two square kilometres in size, approximately 620 structures were damaged or completely destroyed by fire.”
While, “in Doron Baga more than 3,100 structures were damaged or destroyed by fire affecting most of the 4 square kilometre town.”
Initial casualty figures resulting from the Baga attack were pegged at 2000, which Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters debunked and said was below 300.
However, Amnesty International said its new images provided “indisputable and shocking evidence” of the scale of the attack on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga by Boko Haram militants.
According to the organisation, “Before and after images of two neighbouring towns, Baga (160 kilometres from Maiduguri) and Doron Baga (also known as Doro Gowon, 2.5 km from Baga), taken on 2 and 7 January show the devastating effect of the attacks which left over 3,700 structures damaged or completely destroyed. Other nearby towns and villages were also attacked over this period.
“These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days,” said the Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International, Daniel Eyre.
Although Nigerian military attributed the mass exodus of residents from Baga to repeated attacks by the insurgents, Amnesty International further insisted last week’s attack was the “largest and most destructive” yet.
The Nigerian troops have repelled an attempt by Boko Haram insurgents to invade Bama, the second largest city in Borno State.
Eyewitness reports says that the insurgents tried to gain an inroad into the city last night, which led to an all night fight which ended in the early hours of Monday.
The insurgents were reported to have arrived Bama firing mortars, Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPGs) and hurling grenades into the city.
A resident of the town, who anonymously spoke to Channels Television said “in Bama this morning, there was a serious attack by the insurgents; they laid siege on the military base wanting to sack them but we thank God that didn’t happen because the military were up to the task and they repelled them.
“But for now, I know so many people have been injured and killed whose number we cannot ascertain now and some military men had to move back to Maiduguri because they were expecting attacks in some parts of Maiduguri and Gamboru-Ngala.
“So many soldiers too were injured. But young Nigerians, particularly the Civilian JTF were up to resist any entrance of vehicles or persons into Maiduguri from Bama axis”, he said, adding that “people are under panic in Maiduguri and Bama; people are living under fear.
Army Imposes Dusk To Dawn Curfew
Meanwhile, the 7th divisional headquaters of the Nigerian Army has imposed a curfew in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
Bama is about 76 kilometres drive and south east of Maiduguri, the state capital which had witnessed series of deadly attacks by suspected terrorists.
According to army authorities, the curfew is from 7pm to 6 am and is to remain until further notice.
This action, the army said, is to forestall a plot by Boko Haram militants to attack Maiduguri.
The Nigerian Army is currently battling Boko Haram insurgents in Bama, some 40 kilometers away from Maiduguri.