Three flashpoints have been identified as the strongholds of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, following a week-long engagement with the service chiefs and other stakeholders in the region.
The areas are Lake Chad fringes, Sambisa Forest, and the Mandara mountains – all located in Borno State.
The engagement which took place on the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari also had the north-east governors in attendance.
“The President has assured the people of Borno State and indeed the north-eastern subregion that he will do everything possible within his reach to ensure that lives and property of people living in Borno State are secured,” Governor Babagan Zulum told reporters in Maiduguri, the state capital shortly after his arrival from Abuja on Sunday.
He added, “We have discussed, especially the issue of strengthening security in the fringes of the Lake Chad and Mandara mountains, as well as in the Sambisa Forest and I think my meeting with the Chief of Air Staff, as well as Chief of Naval Staff and also General (Tukur) Buratai is very promising.”
The governor said Buratai, who is the Chief of Army Staff, promised to look into the issue of clearing the enclaves of the insurgency in the three flashpoints identified.
He was confident that with the renewed commitment of the President and service chiefs, peace would reign again in Borno.
Zulum, who is also the Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, had led his colleagues to the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital and continued engagements with the service chiefs throughout the week.
While at the Villa, the governors identified some of the root causes of the insurgency raving the region and stressed the need for the Nigerian government to address them
They were of the opinion that the insurgents were taking advantage of endemic poverty and hunger among other challenges in the region to recruit more members into their fold.
The governors said the people need to go back to their farmlands and resettle in their original homes so that they can revive their means of livelihood.
They also recommended that police should be provided with state-of-the-art equipment and armoured personnel carriers, with a view to bridging the manpower gap in the military.
On his part, President Buhari gave strong assurances that security would be restored to Borno State, the North East, and the nation at large.
He also informed the governors that things would improve very soon as the government was acquiring modern equipment to fight insurgencies in the region.
State governors in the north-eastern part of the country have identified some of the root causes of the insurgency raving the region.
They stated this on Monday in Abuja at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss ways to intensify the war against insurgency.
The Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, Babagana Zulum of Borno State, who led the governors to the Villa, stressed the need for the Nigerian government to address the root causes of the insurgency.
According to him, the insurgents are taking advantage of endemic poverty and hunger among other challenges in the region to recruit more members into their fold.
Briefing State House correspondent at the end of the meeting, Zulum said, “One of the root causes is access to farmlands. People need to go back to their farmlands; people need to be resettled in their original homes so that they can start their means of livelihood.
“This is one of the reasons why insurgents are recruiting more (members) into their sects and creating an enabling environment for people to go about their normal activities will no doubt reduce the cases of insurgencies.”
“We also recommended that the police should be provided with state-of-the-art equipment, armoured personal carriers among others, with a view to bridging the manpower gap that we are having in the Nigerian military,” the governor added.
He also stressed the need for the Federal Government to work closely with the state and local governments with a view to providing solutions that would end the crisis in the region.
Governor Zulum, however, noted that the government was taking a bold step to ensure the best ways to tackle some of the challenges faced by people in the North East.
Other governors present included Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Umar Fintiri (Adamawa), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe).
Members of the Boko Haram terrorist group and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have carried out a series of attacks on communities in the region over the years, leading to the death of thousands of residents and forceful ejection of millions of others from their homes.
While the military said it has recorded many feats in the onslaught against the insurgents, the state governors in the region, who were apparently disturbed by the recent activities of the non-state fighters, met with the President.
‘Nigerians Believed Us’
Earlier, at the meeting, President Buhari gave strong assurances that security would be restored to Borno State, the North East, and the nation at large.
The President’s assurance, according to a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, follows the recent adoption of new strategies and the acquisition of modern military equipment.
“Things will improve very soon. We are acquiring modern equipment; some are here, some are being cleared, and others still coming.
“We need patience with acquisition of equipment. You need to train the trainers for their usage ahead of their deployment to the field,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement.
He added, “I assure you, the north-east governors, especially that of Borno, that we go to bed and wake up thinking about you, how to secure our country; that is the responsibility of every government.
“Our party campaigned in 2015 on three major objectives, among which is Security. We said the same thing in 2019 and Nigerians believed us. We are doing our best and we will continue to do even better.”
The President decried the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy which he said has made scarce resources even scarcer, coupled with its severe impact on the supply chain of military equipment and spare parts.
He, however, stated that his administration was doing its best on the question of equipment and the military was aware that equipment were coming from some countries.
President Buhari lamented that the acquisition of military wares and spares was not an easy task.
‘We Will Not Relent’
The meeting was also attended by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as well as the Chief of Defence Staff, the Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, and the heads of intelligence agencies.
Some of the attendees promised that things would get better soon and made a strong case for strengthening ties among the military, state governments, traditional institutions, and all communities and the residents of the region.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, gave an assessment of the current efforts, stressing that Boko Haram terrorists have been flushed out of all the states in the region, leaving Borno State as the last stop.
“There are no Boko Haram terrorists in neighbouring states. They have been pushed out, and now cornered in Borno State.
“We are coordinating with civil and traditional authorities, mobilising and reinforcing and all we need is patience. We will not relent,” he said.
On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, briefed the meeting on the acquisition of military aircraft, stressing that the imminent arrival of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs, known as drones with more than 10 hours of flying time, would strongly reinforce the battlefront.
Briefs were also received on equipment needs of the police, as well as the changing alliances between criminal gangs and terrorist groups in the region from the intelligence community.
The Nigerian Air Force says it is deploying more personnel to the Air Task Force in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to boost the counter-insurgency operations.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this on Wednesday, during an operational visit to the state.
According to him, the visit was to review and adopt new strategic formats for the conduct of operations and to appraise the efforts and achievements so far.
The Air Chief said the Air Taskforce had flown 1,669 hours during which 33 targets were hit including the logistic base of the insurgents.
According to him, the outstanding performance of the Air Task Force has “substantially created a very conducive environment for the other forces to operate”.
“We have made it extremely difficult for Boko Haram to have freedom of movement with the use of our airplanes and the fact that we have destroyed a lot of their locations. That has made it much easier I believe, for the other forces to conduct their operations,” he added.
The Air Marshall also urged personnel to follow guidelines drawn out by the authority to stay safe and carry out their constitutional duties especially at this critical time.
“COVID-19 is an invisible enemy, we are doing everything we can in line with the guidelines given by the Federal Government to remain safe. Not only us but our pilots, engineers, technicians, and we are accessing our environment, the environment they operate to make sure that they are safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Air Force boss also commissioned accommodation for officers and airmen, offices and resting areas aimed towards ensuring a smooth running of the Air Task Force Command and the 105 composite groups.
The Nigerian Military says it has destroyed compounds housing Boko Haram terrorist leaders in Borno State.
The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday.
He explained that the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted the attacks at Bulawa on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.
“The air strikes were executed on April 21, 2020, based on credible human intelligence reports as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions that led to the identification of the target compounds within the settlement.
“Fighter jets dispatched by the Air Task Force to take out the compounds scored accurate hits in the target area, leading to the destruction of some of the structures as well as the neutralisation of some of the terrorists occupying the compounds,” the statement said.
Major General Enenche added that some Boko Haram fighters who attempted to reposition to engage the attacking aircraft were mopped-up in follow-on attacks by the jets.
He insisted that the military would sustain the offensive against the terrorists, as part of efforts to restore peace and security in the North East.
A bill seeking the establishment of an agency for repentant members of the Boko Haram terrorist group has been introduced in the Senate.
It aims to create a national agency that would see to the rehabilitation, de-radicalisation, and integration of repentant insurgents in the country.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gaidam during plenary on Thursday at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
It is captioned ‘National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 340)’.
The bill was read for the first time in the red chamber, along with others sponsored by some senators in the chamber.
They include Federal Polytechnic Maiduguri (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 338) by Senator Kashim Shettima, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 274) by Senator Solomon Adeola, and Metallurgy Training Institute Orumba (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 338) by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Gaidam, is the lawmaker representing Yobe East District in the Senate.
He is also the immediate past governor of Yobe, one of the worst-hit states by insurgents in the north-eastern part of the country.
Other states that have suffered attacks the most in the heat of the insurgency, according to reports, are Borno and Adamawa States.
One of the worst attacks by the insurgents in Yobe, although by a factional Boko Haram group – Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), was the incident in Dapchi.
The insurgents invaded the Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi on February 19, 2018, where they abducted over 100 schoolgirls.
Weeks later, the girls returned to their families except Leah Sharibu, who was held back by the insurgents for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
Amid various calls for her release and the government’s efforts towards ensuring that Leah regains her freedom, she marked two years on Wednesday in the custody of the insurgents.
The United Nations has condemned the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the north-eastern region of Nigeria.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, revealed on Thursday that the number of humanitarian workers killed by the insurgents last year was twice the figure recorded in the previous year.
“A total of twelve aid workers have lost their lives in 2019,” he said in a statement forwarded to Channels Television.
The UN envoy added, “This is twice more than in 2018, which we thought was amongst the most dangerous years for humanitarian actors in Nigeria.”
He blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, stressing that the level of insecurity in the region has been on the rise.
Kallon also decried the activities of the insurgents at various checkpoints in the region, saying the trend has exposed a lot of innocent citizens to attacks in recent times.
He said, “I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis.
“The humanitarian community is troubled by the increased trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.”
“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted,” the humanitarian coordinator said.
He, therefore, urged the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.
Kallon advised that special attention should be given to women and children who he said were among the most vulnerable people caught up in the violence.
According to him, aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
“Their security is paramount, and I call on all parties to assure the safety of aid workers and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid,” he said.
The United Nations is worried about the activities of Boko Haram insurgents at various checkpoints in the North-East.
With the recent trend, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, believes the people in the region and aid workers there are more exposed to attacks by the terrorists.
“I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Kallon added, “The humanitarian community is troubled by the increasing trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.
“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted.”
The UN envoy also decried the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the region.
He disclosed that a total of 12 humanitarian workers were killed last year, stressing that the figure doubled the number recorded in 2018.
Kallon blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, insisting that the level of insecurity in the region has been on the rise.
He, therefore, called on the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.
Aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations, according to him, make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, confirmed the release in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Thursday.
He said, “I am deeply relieved that some civilians, including three aid workers, who were abducted by non-state armed groups along the Monguno – Maiduguri road on 22 December 2019 have been released yesterday and are now safe.”
“The whole humanitarian community in Nigeria shares the joy of the families, friends and colleagues of these aid workers, who can now put to rest the unimaginable anxiety of missing their loved ones,” the UN envoy added.
He described the freed aid workers as dedicated humanitarians making efforts to provide life-saving support to millions of Nigeria’s “most vulnerable” in north-eastern Borno State.
“They should never have been a target or have to endure the trauma of being held captive,” Kallon decried.
Although he welcomed the release of the three aid workers, the humanitarian coordinator was worried about the fate of the others abducted in the incident.
He was also concerned for the lives of two other aid workers – Grace Taku who was abducted near Damasak in July 2019, as well as Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother who has been held captive since March 2018 following an attack in Rann.
“Both are still held captive by non-state armed groups. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners call for their immediate and safe release,” said Kallon.
Boko Haram insurgents, on Monday, attacked the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi.
According to a military source, the incident occurred around 7:20 pm when Adeniyi was on his way back to Maiduguri after a visit to troops who were recently deployed to Jakana to strengthen the security in the general area.
“As we were coming back to Maiduguri after we left Jakana, we suddenly started hearing gunshots all over,” the source who pleaded anonymity said.
“Before we realized it, they had bombarded us with heavy fire from different angles. Fortunately for us, we were able to repel the attack and escape.
He, however, stated that the vehicle of the theatre commandant was badly damaged with many gun holes.
The Army later released a statement. Read the full statement below.
More Criminal Boko Haram Insurgents Decimated At The Site Of A Failed Ambush Sprung Against The Theater Commanders’ Convoy.
In a clear display of misguided desperation to stage a reprisal following the recent neutralisation of several of their top commanders by troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, on 6 January 2020, some marauding elements of the criminal Boko Haram insurgents laid and eventually sprung an ambush against the convoy of the Theater Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi.
The Theatre Commander’s convoy came under the criminals ineffective and uncoordinated fire from Anti-Aircraft Guns, Machines Guns, Rocket Propelled Grenades and some of their foot soldiers about 2 Kilometers to Auno in Kaga LGA of Borno State while returning from Jakana where he visited troops’ location following his earlier meeting with the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum at Auno.
In a commendable demonstration of bold action in battle, the Theatre Commander led the gallant troops of his convoy to engage the criminal Boko Haram Insurgents with superior firepower, subduing them and thereafter assaulting the ambush site with his men thereby causing the criminal insurgents to flee the location in disarray.
Other senior military officers in the Theatre Commanders’ convoy at the time of the ambush include the Deputy Theatre Commander, Maj Gen MG Ali, Brig Gen EI Eze, Brig Gen SI Igbinomwanya and Lt AA Tejuoso. In the aftermath of the encounter, several Boko Haram criminal insurgents were decimated.
Additionally, 20 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, 2 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, one camouflage trouser, one Nigeria Police Force fragmental jacket, 2 AK 47 Rifles and 3 AK 47 Rifle magazines were captured from the fleeing insurgents.
Thereafter, the Theatre Commander Major General Olusegun Adeniyi and his convoy continued their trip and have since returned safely to the Headquarters Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Maiduguri.
Regrettably, 2 soldiers were wounded in action during the encounter. The Wounded soldiers are currently receiving treatment at a military medical facility and are responding positively to treatment.
To this end, the Theatre Commander, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai congratulates the troops for their resilience and courage and urges them not to relent in their efforts until all the remnants of the Boko Haram and ISWAP criminal insurgents are completely annihilated and defeated.
You are kindly requested to disseminate the above information to the general public for awareness. Thank you for your usual cooperation.
*AMINU ILIYASU* Colonel Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator 7 January 2020
“Military operation has to be followed by stabilisation mechanism and, therefore, three local government areas are really key,” he stated, adding that they must “be retaken”.
The governor said, “We shall be happy if the Nigerian military and other security operatives will develop a modus operandi of re-establishing such businesses to boost the local economy.”
He stressed the need for the military to incorporate economic recovery and rehabilitation of idle people in towns around the Lake Chad region where the insurgents were still holding sway.
The governor was also worried that keeping thousands of people, especially in camps with no source of livelihood was a ready-made material for Boko Haram insurgents on recruitment missions in villages.
He, however, believes with the military presence and civil authority, the economy of the areas would be rejuvenated, and the Boko Haram menace would be reduced.
On his part, Magashi informed his host that he was in Borno to appraise the operations that would shape future decisions in the counter-insurgency war in the North East.
He paid the governor a courtesy visit at the State House in company with top officers of the army and the Nigerian Air Force in the state.
The minister had visited the Headquarters of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafia Dole on Sunday and proceeded to Monguno, the Headquarters of Sector 3.
During his visit to the Theatre of Operation which lasted two days, Magashi had a series of interactions with various unit commanders in the presence of the service chiefs who had accompanied him.
The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, conducted the visiting minister and the service chiefs around the Theatre as they assessed equipment and the armoury.
Adeniyi said the fighting troops were resolute and would not be distracted in their goal until the insurgents were defeated.
The minister’s visit came at a time when the activities of the insurgents appear to be thriving around the Lake Chad Basin.