The Chief Of Army Staff conference for the second and third quarters of 2016, has opened in Makurdi, the Benue state capital.
The conference would be reviewing the counter-terrorism operations and training activities of the Army.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Burutai, disclosed this to the Benue State Deputy Governor, Mr Benson Abounu, during a brief meeting shortly before the opening ceremony of the COAS conference.
The conference, according to the Chief of Army Staff, would feature the commissioning of bridges and the NASME Barrack water works to service the host communities, in addition to free medical outreach.
A security consultant, Mr Max Gbanite, has thrown his weight behind the Nigerian military’s recent announcement that it was moving the war on terror to the cyberspace.
Mr Gbanite noted that the terrorists have always been in the cyberspace but much attention was not paid to it because getting them “off the ground” had been the priority all the while.
“Look Boko Haram has intelligence, they have brilliant people working with laptops taking money from banks, financing their operations. It is just that we need to migrate to that fight.
“But do we have enough intelligence and commitment to fight the war in the cyber? That is another question. Is the military funded to take this war into the cyberspace?
“They (terrorists) have proven that they can hack into any system in this country and show private documents of any Nigerian to the media and pretend it is an expose or investigative journalism.
“So it is proper for the Nigerian military to look into this. It is an innovation and part of the new development all over the world.”
In analyzing the gains in Nigeria’s fight against terrorism, Mr Gbanite acknowledged the improvement since the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai.
He recalled that the situation was bad enough to force the then Nigerian government to postpone the 2015 general elections but a more determined effort; new strategies and operational activities, have led to the improvement.
Mr Gbanite agreed with the claims by the military that it has succeeded in ensuring that the Boko Haram have become unable to lay claims to holding any Nigerian territories.
“We no longer see Boko Haram taunting our military. Our military have become the hunters and Boko Haram have become on the run,” he said, commending the rescue of several captives of the terrorists.
However, the implication of the success, according to the counter-terrorism expert is that the insurgents have also devised new approaches to their operations and this requires that Nigeria also changes tactics.
“Boko Haram is like a chameleon, they have gone back to asymmetry.
“They have developed new shaheeds. A shaheed is a suicide bomber. So we must attack their mindsets, we must change the narratives to degrade the recruitment of shaheeds in the Boko Haram,” he said.
He called on the media to further support the efforts of the security agencies by making their platforms available to publish the names and faces of suspected terrorists.
He also expressed hope that the newly appointed Acting Inspector-General of Police would build on the improvements recorded by former IGP Solomon Arase in the area of intelligence policing.
Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday evening attacked Nigerian troops involved in the clearance and rescue operations in Sambisa forest nicknamed ‘Operation Crack Down’, while on harbour.
According to Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, the terrorists came in five Toyota Hilux vehicles mounted with Anti-Aircraft guns which they fired along with 81mm mortar.
The battle ready troops rose to the occasion and repelled the attack and pursued the terrorists as they withdrew in disarray towards the river line of Izza-Mainyakare axis.
The attack lasted for about 40 minutes without any casualty on Nigerian troops while an unconfirmed number of Boko Haram terrorists were killed. The troops recovered an 81mm mortar tube from the terrorists.
The Army says its troops have maintained highest level alertness and vigilance at the harbour area and they would further exploit and continue with the clearance operation.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has commended the 151 Battalion soldiers fighting insurgency under the ‘Operation Crack Down’.
The recently introduced Operation Crack Down is a component of the mother operation “Lafiya Dole”, designed to chase out the outlawed Boko Haram elements from the notorious Sambisa forest believed to be their stronghold.
General Officer Commanding the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Victor Ezugwu, is leading the “Crack Down” troop in the Bama and Banki axis where the Army Chief.
The GOC engaged the COAS in a strategic meeting that lasted 30 minutes at the Division’s tactical headquarters in Bama before proceeding to Banki to address the troops.
“We are already inside the Sambisa forest and so far so good from the brief I have received from your GOC. This operation is very crucial and we need to continue to press hard to conclude the operation,” Buratai said.
According to Buratai, this is in the overall plan of the Operation Lafiya Dole and also part of the federal government’s plan to end the insurgency in northeast Nigeria.
“We are here today to say well done, Mr President is quite pleased with our operations (and) with what you’re doing, I want to tell you also that Nigerians are happy with you; we must crack them down and continue to push them until they are completely down.” Buratai told the soldiers.
The Army chief says Banki is tactically strategic and operationally important as it borders both the Cameroun and Chad republic and is also a major route for the insurgents linking to the northern and southern part of the state.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Azubike Ihejirika says the solution to the evolving security challenges does not lie with the senior military officers alone.
General Ihejirika who spoke at the 2012 Nigerian Army Transformation Stakeholders Conference said the changing nature of security challenges requires the contribution of all military personnel and civilians.
He a said the main focus of the army and other security agencies is how to transform to adapt to the ever changing security environments to ensure that the wave of terrorism is reduced to the barest minimum and eventually wiped out
Heads of different units in the Nigerian army were at the annual gathering, aimed at evaluating the level of successes and challenges of the Nigerian Army transformation agenda.
Director ONAT Brigadier General Peter Bojie who gave the opening remarks said “To truly transform the Nigeria Army in this practical terms, a periodic stock taking and review of essentials to measure the progress of a plan necessary. This becomes necessary considering the Nigerian Army transformation framework which enters its long term face this year”.
The Chief of Army Staff who was the guest of honour at the event made a case for all the transformation agenda to be geared towards meeting contemporary security challenges in the country. This he said this can only be achieved if both the security agencies and civilians work together. ‘‘The solution to the security challenges we are faced with does not lie solely with the generals alone. I can tell you that the situation we operate now is that if a colonel has brilliant ideas, bring it forward lets debate it. If you win you have your way. So this is the attitude I want” he said.
General Ihejirika listed some of the steps taken by the military to tackle the rising cases of terrorism in the country. “Creating small forces that can operate fairly independently to be able to meet the fluid nature of the challenge we are faced with, a quick response squads, detachable road blocks, modern target system and a troop of soldiers presently undergoing training on counter terrorism in Jaji and Kachi (both in Kaduna state) numbering 2000”.
This meeting will amongst other things, review the transformation activities of the army and measure its impact, evaluate long, medium and short term goals of the agenda.