The fight against insurgency in the country has gathered boost as over 13,000 suspected terrorists have surrendered to Nigerian troops in the last two weeks.
Providing an update on the military operations across the nation, the Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Bernard Onyeuko said the figures include some members of the families of the suspects, including women and children.
He also explained that 29 suspected terrorists were killed within the period while 13 others were arrested.
“Troops of this operation have sustained aggressive posture with vigour in the North-East which yielded significant result. The series of land and air operations conducted in different operations across the North-East theatre have reduced the operational capabilities of the insurgents,” he said.
“With the period under review, several terrorist elements were neutralized and several others arrested alongside their informants and logistics supplies.
“Consequently, more terrorists have continued to lay down their arms and surrender to own troops with their families as they could no longer withstand the offensive operations within the theatre.
“With the period, a total of 29 terrorists were neutralized, 13 terrorists including their informants and logistics supplies were arrested in the course of these operations.”
“We have estimated a total number of over 50,000 orphans and widows; these are official figures, the unofficial figures are more than these, and we were able to cultivate not more than three per cent of our total arable land because of the insurgents.
“And right now, the whereabouts of not less than 10 percent of the people of Borno State is not known to all of us – at all. This is a very serious matter,” Governor Zulum lamented.
An Endless War?
Recently, military authorities said troops have intensified onslaught against the members of the Boko Haram sect and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the North East.
This, according to them, has forced the insurgents to flee from their hideouts with hundreds of them surrendering their arms to the troops.
While the latest development has been commended by many, others want the Federal Government not to pardon the repentant terrorists. Rather, they asked that they should be prosecuted.
But this position has been rejected by Governor Zulum whose state is one of the worst-hit by the insurgency.
He believes accepting the repentant terrorists is the way to go if Nigeria wants an end to the insurgency. He revealed that about 2,600 of them have so far surrendered, including their wives and children.
The governor, however, stressed that those who have surrendered would not immediately be reintegrated into the society.
“Unless we want to continue with an endless war, I see no reason why we should reject those who are willing to surrender,” he said.
“More than 100,000 people were killed and therefore, I am in total support of this ongoing surrender by the insurgents. We will support them and those that have surrendered shall be dealt with according to the extant rules and regulation.”
The Governor of Borno State, Babangana Zulum, has said that repentant insurgents should not be rejected in order to avoid worsening the insurgency war.
The Governor said this on Tuesday after he paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House.
He believes the price for rejecting the surrendered bandits could be far worse than the current situation.
“The report of the surrendering of the insurgents and to me in particular and to the greater people of Borno State is a very welcome development unless we want to continue with an endless war,” Zulum said.
“I see no reason why we should reject those who are willing to surrender.
“I was attacked for more than 40, 50 times. I know the magnitude of this problem.
“More than 100,000 people were killed and therefore, I am in total support of this ongoing surrender by the insurgents”.
According to the governor who says he has also been attacked by insurgents more than 40 different times, 2,600 Boko Haram members have so far surrendered, inclusive of their wives and children.
The issue of amnesty has been a subject of heated debate as many believe that it could further compromise the country’s security architecture.
One of those who has been vocal against the idea is Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume.
He believes the provision of blanket amnesty to insurgents has the tendency to breed new forms of criminality in the country.
“I don’t think blanket amnesty is the solution because if you do that, another form of criminality may emerge (with insurgents) hoping that the government will bring them to the negotiating table,” he said when he made an appearance on Channels TV’s Politics Today in February.
Senator Ndume said the government must strive to get to the root of the situation to ascertain what the true cause of the problem is.
“I can tell you, yes we have challenges with banditry, we have challenges with separatist groups, it does not make this country, Nigeria, a failed state.
“If what is happening in the last few weeks is anything to go by, we are winning this war.”
Mr Lai, who asked Nigerians to appreciate the government’s fight against insecurity, noted that the nation’s security situation is a lot better than what the present government met when it assumed power.
Recalling how the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, the minister explained that ideologies are hard to defeat, something he says the present administration has been able to surmount while fighting Boko Haram.
According to him, before the present government, Boko Haram controlled a “swathe of land the size of Belgium” but have now been pushed “to a very small area”.
“This is what people should appreciate about fighting terrorism. The good news is that insurgents today are surrendering in droves and we are going after them,” he added.
It started as a largely peaceful religious movement in northern Nigeria. But the violent rhetoric was never inconspicuous. Yet, the government didn’t pay much attention to Boko Haram. Until 2009, when the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was murdered while in police custody, setting off an inexorable chain of violent events that has threatened the very existence of the Nigerian state. Twelve years later, thousands have died and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced or remain in captivity. Yet, the insurgency is far from over. Here is a timeline of events of Nigeria’s never-ending conflict:
2002: Mohammed Yusuf founds Boko Haram, a group with the aim to ‘purify’ Islam in Northern Nigeria.
July 2009: Yusuf is killed in a Boko Haram uprising while in police custody.
7 September 2010: Boko Haram members launch an attack on a federal prison in Bauchi, freeing up to 721 prisoners, including up to 150 affiliated with the group.
16 June 2011: A suicide bomber drives a car bomb into the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja and kills up to six people.
26 August 2011: A car bomb explodes at a United Nations building in Abuja, killing at least 21 and wounding 60.
25 December 2011: A series of bomb attacks on Christmas Day kills about 40 people and injures many others.
31 December 2011: President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in parts of the North-East and orders the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger shut.
8 January 2012: President Jonathan says Boko Haram members have infiltrated his government, including the military and police.
20 January 2012: At least 178 people are killed after Boko Haram executed a series of bomb blasts and shooting sprees mostly targeting police stations in Kano.
11 October 2012: Human Rights Watch accuses Nigerian security forces of gross human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram.
14 May 2013: President Jonathan extends the state of emergency to cover Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
11 August 2013: Boko Haram kills 44 worshipers at a mosque in Konduga, Borno.
November 2013: The United States designates Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation.
26 February 2014: Boko Haram murders at least 59 boys at the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe state.
14-15 April 2014: About 276 female students are kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State.
May 2014: The United Nations’ Security Council adds Boko Haram to its financial sanctions and arms embargo list.
29 October 2014: Boko Haram seizes the Adamawa town of Mubi, forcing thousands to flee.
January 2015: Boko Haram seizes a Nigerian military base in Baga, a key town in Borno state.
February 2015: Nigeria postpones presidential elections for six weeks as a coalition of military forces including those from Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria begin a campaign against Boko Haram.
March 2015: The Nigerian army recovers Bama from Boko Haram, halting the group’s incursion.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya has reiterated his commitment to appreciating and rewarding the gallantry of frontline officers and soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria.
General Yahaya represented by the commander, Sector 2 Operation Hadin Kai disclosed this in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital on Tuesday while hosting the troops in a Sallah luncheon.
“On assumption of office, I promised to promote merit, applaud gallantry, celebrate excellence and honour our heroes. It was in that spirit that I conferred the COAS Commendation Award to some deserving officers and soldiers on Tue 6 Jul 21 during the NADCEL 2021,” he said.
According to him, his administration will promote merit and celebrate exceptional officers and soldiers who have dedicated their service to humanity and will not hesitate to punish any officer found wanting while discharging his duties.
“I shall continue to appreciate and applaud competence, diligence and dedicated service. As I will reward excellence and achievements, I will not hesitate to punish indiscipline, indolence, negligence and all untoward acts. In line with my vision to have “A Professional Nigerian Army Ready to accomplish Assigned Missions within a Joint Environment in Defence of Nigeria”, it is my resolve to focus on the core values of the NA which include Loyalty, Courage, Integrity and Selfless Service.
“I will also see to our return to the cherished customs, ethics and traditions of the Nigerian Army. While not compromising our investment in the officer cadres, I am particularly concerned with the development of individual soldiers as well as empowering the Regimental Sergeant Majors (RSMs) and the Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) so that they can play their roles effectively as a bridge between the officers and soldiers,” the statement read in part.
On the welfare of officers, General Farouk said: “my officers, soldiers and their families will continue to receive adequate attention under my watch. Our hospital facilities and services are being improved upon and I am ever determined to ensure the healthcare of personnel and their families both within and outside the country”.
Troops have killed three suspected Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists and arrested 11 others as part of the counterterrorism operations in the northeast.
Army spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who confirmed the incident in a statement issued on Monday, said troops ambushed the terrorists’ crossing point along Banki Junction-Miyanti road to prevent movement of terrorists’ logistics and replenishment.
The insurgents who were nabbed on July 15 were said to have “surrendered to troops along with their families, while fleeing their enclaves, following the continuous bombardment of their hideouts by troops of the Battalion.”
They were said to have been arrested at the outskirts of Aza and Bula Daloye villages in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State by troops at Miyanti and Darajamel areas of the northeastern state.
“The arrested suspects comprised of eleven adult male terrorists, five adult females and twelve children,” the statement partly read.
“The troops also recovered 27 rounds of 7.62 mm (Special) ammunition, 3 AK 47 rifle magazines and a black fragmental Jacket from the suspects. They are currently undergoing preliminary investigations.”
Similarly, on July 17, troops of 7 Division Garrison in conjunction with the Civilian Joint Task Force; acting on credible intelligence tracked and arrested Boko Haram informants and logistics suppliers, during a cordon and search operation in Lawanti and Gongolun Communities of Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
The army spokesman said during preliminary investigations, the suspects confessed to have been working as informants for the terrorists, whom they provide with information on troops’ movements, locations, deployments, strength, the caliber of weapons and other activities.
He added, “They also admitted to having supplied the terrorists with basic logistics for their daily survival, ranging from Petroleum Oil and Lubricant (POL), drugs, mosquito nets, kola nuts, recharge cards and foodstuff.
“The suspects also disclosed that they were remunerated by the terrorists with proceeds made from selling dismantled old motorcycle parts to dealers in order to fund their purchases.”
Reacting to the successes recorded, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya commended the troops for being proactive in the ongoing clearance operations.
He however charged them to maintain the tempo and ensure the terrorists are smoked out of their enclaves.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Borno State who doubles as chairman of the forum, Professor Babagana Zulum and the host Governor, Darius Ishaku, harped on the need for more infrastructural development in the northeast, including electricity supply.
The meeting has now gone into a closed-door session for further discussion with a communiqué expected to be issued afterward.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Army, Abdulrazak Namdas, has decried the safety of the Nigerian airspace.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, the lawmaker representing Jada/Ganye/MayoBelwa/Toungo Federal Constituency of Adamawa State described as devastating, a situation whereby the nation has recorded three air mishaps in two months.
He also called on the Federal Government to urgently remedy the situation to avoid further loss of lives.
“We have to be very cautious these days, we have recorded three air crashes in two months. This is very devastating,” the lawmaker said two days the nation recorded another plane crash in Kaduna State.
“We all have to go back to the drawing board and see what the reason is. It shows that our safety record is really very low and that can be very demoralising.”
The nation was thrown into mourning after a Nigerian Air Force jet crashed at the Kaduna International Airport due to bad weather.
Victims on board the ill-fated aircraft were the former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, Brigadier Generals Ahmed Kuliya, O Olayinka, and MI Abdulkadir; Majors N Hamza, LA Hayat; Sergeants O Adesina, and Umar; as well as Aircraftman OM Oyedepo, Flt Lt TO Asaniyi, and Flt Lt AA Olufade.
The Beechcraft 350 aircraft conveying the military officers, with registration number 5N-R203, was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in the Mando area of Kaduna but diverted to land at the civil airport.
Despite the demise of the Army chief, the lawmaker believes there are still many professionals who have all it takes to effectively fight terrorism, banditry and other security threats.
He believes that with more funding for the armed forces, a lot will be achieved in winning the counterterrorism war.
His remarks come three months after a Nigerian military plane crashed short of a runway in Abuja, killing seven people on board.
The spokesman of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshall Ibikun Daramola had on February 21 said the Air Force plane had reported engine failure.
The plane was on the way to Minna, in the northern state of Niger to try to rescue 42 people who had been kidnapped.
Two months after, a NAF Alpha-Jet went missing while on an operation in the northeastern region of the country.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed this in a statement issued on April 1.
He said the aircraft lost contact with radar while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops fighting insurgency in Borno State.
Then on May 21, a plane military crash crashed in Kaduna State.
The Nigerian Army has renamed Operation Lafiya Dole, military operations ongoing to flush out Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the northeastern part of the country.
This was announced on Friday via a statement signed by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima.
Following the approval of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, the ongoing counterinsurgency Operation in the troubled region will be changed from Operation Lafiya Dole to Operation Hadin Kai.
“The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru has approved the renaming of the ongoing Counterinsurgency Operation in the North East from Operation Lafiya Dole to Operation Hadin Kai,” the statement partly read.
“This is premised on the fact that the Nigerian Army has made a lot of progress over the years and needs to re-align for better efficiency.
“Also affected in the re-designation are the Army Super Camps which now reflect the nomenclature of the formations and units followed by the name of the locations they occupy while sub-units are redesigned as Forward Operating Bases followed by the name of their locations. All these changes are with immediate effect.”
The army spokesman explained that the change is in line with the COAS Vision of having “A Nigerian Army that is Repositioned to Professionally Defeat all Adversaries in a Joint Environment.”
According to him, the Army chief is committed to the complete defeat of insurgency, adding that it is a process that requires the participation of the entire nation using all elements of national power.
He added, “He further assured that the NA under his leadership will continue to pursue the path of jointness in prosecuting the counterinsurgency war.”
The country has been battling terrorism for more than a decade which has killed 36,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the northeast.
The Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking troops and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.
Nigeria’s jihadist violence has spread to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru has reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Army in crushing Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast.
Briefing journalists in Borno State on Thursday, the Army chief said his mission to the 7 Division, Maimalari Cantonment/ Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri was to visit the injured soldiers.
While noting that the troops remain committed to tackling other security challenges such as banditry and kidnapping among other crimes bedevilling some parts of the country, Attahiru said there is no way troops would always claim victory over their enemies, as sometimes the opposite is the direction.
“We are committed to the focus of the entire operations which is total annihilation of Boko Haram from Nigeria,” he said.
“Troops are committed to ending the war and other security challenges such as banditry and kidnapping among other crimes bedevilling some parts of the country.”
The COAS also conveyed the goodwill messages from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, President Buhari is committed to providing them with the needed resources they would require to execute the fight against insurgency and other violent groups across Nigeria.
On his part, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major-General Farouq Yahaya, lauded the regular visit by the COAS which he said had continued to boost the morale of the troops.
“We are honoured, we are grateful, we are encouraged by those visits. You provided us guidance, logistics and other things we required. We are most grateful for those visits,” Yahaya said.
The Army chief’s visit to the troubled region comes four days after an officer and six others died in a counterinsurgency operation in Mainok, Borno State.
Spokesman of the Army, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, had on Monday explained that the security personnel were attacked by insurgents mounted on an unconfirmed number of gun trucks, and foot soldiers with the possible intent of establishing a phantom caliphate in Mainok town.
Five other soldiers who sustained various degrees of injuries have been evacuated to the military medical facility for treatment.
During a duel between the troops and the insurgents, the soldiers were said to have lured a number of the terrorists into a killing zone within their camp.
Thereafter, the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled Alpha jets and helicopter gunboats which took turns to decimate the trapped terrorists, leading to the killing of scores of Boko Haram terrorists.
Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has condemned the recent attack on the Geidam community by Boko Haram insurgents in the state.
He appealed to all residents in the state to expose every bad egg in the communities, even if they were their relations.
Governor Buni made the plea at a special security meeting with government officials, traditional rulers, and security agencies on Tuesday at Government House in Damaturu, the state capital.
“As leaders and citizens in our respective communities, we must volunteer credible and timely information to the security agencies to enhance proactive action in curbing the menace and havoc caused by the terrorists.
“We must expose every bad egg in our communities even if they are our relations or biological children,” the governor told the meeting.
He noted that the attack on Geidam community has left thousands of people displaced and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.
Governor Buni blamed the influx of insurgents on the geographical location of Geidam, sitting close to the fringes of Lake Chad and bordering the Niger Republic and Damasak, a town in Borno State.
He, however, assured the residents of the security of their lives and properties, and urged them to collaborate with the government by providing credible information for the security agencies to curb imminent attacks by the insurgents.
“The sad resurgence of Boko Haram attacks on Geidam, in which some lives were lost with men, women, children, young and old forced out of their homes and displaced in this holy month of Ramadan, is condemnable, crude and grossly inhumane,” the governor decried.
Geidam community was attacked on Friday last week by the suspected Boko Haram insurgents who later hoisted their flags in some parts of the community.
Although the Nigerian Army insisted that it had killed many of the insurgents and recovered weapons from them, many residents have deserted the community.