Military Winning War Against Boko Haram, Says Army | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Military Winning War Against Boko Haram, Says Army

Posted: Sep 14, 2015 at 12:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chesa Chesa, Abuja,  Oladele Ogunsola (Ibadan),  Juliet Oyoyo (Kaduna) and Innocent Anolu


The Nigerian military authorities, on Sunday, rekindled hopes of ending the Boko Haram terrorists’ stranglehold on the nation’s North-East zone within the three-month deadline given by President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

A statement by Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, spokesman of the Nigerian Army, said with better co-ordination and commitment of the military high command at the battlefront, scores of terrorists were surrendering to troops, while many more were willingly laying down their arms.

Usman said that following the sustained offensives, pre-emptive air strikes by the Nigerian Air Force and routes blocking by ground troops to constrict and snuff out the Boko Haram terrorists, they had been substantially weakened.

“Many of the terrorists that willingly surrendered, painted images of mass panic and hysteria among their erstwhile colleagues who are feeling the noose tightening on their necks with the relentless efforts of troops and renewed vigour in operations inspired by the personal leadership of the Chief of Army Staff.

“Terrorists also seem to have an inkling of what happens to surrendered suspects as regards screening and de-radicalisation of innocent ones among them,” he added.

Gallant Troops

The assurance is coming days after the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Baratai, on Wednesday, visited the newly recaptured Gamboru Ngala, Borno State, a border town with Cameroon, where he spent the night in the midst of the jubilant troops.

Buratai ordered the hoisting of Nigeria’s flag in the town, whose over 3,000 inhabitants are now refugees in Fotokol, on the Cameroon side, separated from their home by a river.

After a brief ceremony and statement from the army chief, according to reports, there was a rendition of the Nigerian national anthem, even as Buratai recalled that “Gamboru was occupied by the Boko Haram terrorists for almost one year ago. The Chadian troops came to help to recapture it but could not hold the town, so they later withdrew and the Boko Haram returned.

“In line with my vision which is to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army that is abreast of its constitutional roles, and one key underlying phrase in my mission is the constitutional role, today, under my command, we are here to discharge and redeem our territorial integrity as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Today, we are hoisting our flag and we will never allow any bunch of criminals in the name of Boko Haram to come and take an inch of our territory again.”

While commending “officers and soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole, especially the officers and men of 7 Division and indeed the 7 Division Strike Group, who have proved to be resilient, dedicated and highly patriotic,” of which everyone is proud, he charged them “to maintain the momentum and from now on you must maintain an aggressive posture to constant patrols along this routes and all other routes into this area.”

Buhari Jets Off

Perhaps buoyed by the recent victories recorded by the military, President Buhari, will today leave Abuja for a three-day official visit to France at the invitation of President Francois Hollande.

He would be accompanied by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Ministries of Defence, Finance, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade and Investment as well as the Chief Executives of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.

An Aso Rock statement explained that the composition of his entourage showed that Buhari’s talks in Paris with Hollande and other senior French government officials would be strengthened and consolidated on bilateral co-operation between both nations in the areas of defence, security, trade and investments.

Apart from his scheduled meeting with the French President, the President and his team would also meet the French Ministers of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian; Finance and Public Accounts, Michel Sapin; Economy and Industry, Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius.

Buhari would visit the Headquarters of MEDEF, France’s largest federation of investors and employers, where he would participate in a France/Nigeria Investment Forum with leading Nigerian and French entrepreneurs, and also confer with the chief executives of leading French multinational companies like Total and Lafarge on their current and future investments in Nigeria.

He would meet African Ambassadors to France and hold an interactive session with members of the Nigerian community and return to Abuja on Wednesday.

Insecurity Challenge

The determination by the President to seek help from the world powers may not be unconnected with his realisation that with the internationalisation of the Boko Haram sect, which is now an arm of ISIS, the terrorists cannot be dislodged by Nigeria alone.

The President is most likely to re-echo his words to officers, troops and newly commissioned cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) at the Passing Out Parade of the 62 Regular Course and Short Service Course 43 of the Nigerian Army, in Kaduna on Saturday.

Security, Buhari told the gathering, remains the most difficult challenge in his administration’s “change” programme, noting that the objective of fighting terrorism cannot be realised without a credible and effective military.

“The nation demands of you exemplary conduct and professionalism wherever you are deployed, be it locally on internal security operation missions or internationally in Peace Support Operation missions around the world,” he said.

Divergent Opinions

Meanwhile, Nigerians are divided on the current effort by the administration to curtail activities of the dreaded sect.

While some are of the view that he has done well in leading efforts to tame the activities of the terrorists, others say he has done little in this regard.

Immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Malam Anthony Sanni, said: “The mobilisation and training of the Nigerian Armed Forces, combined with support from the international community and participation by neighboring countries which have taken the fight to the door steps of the insurgents, is the right approach.

“And, since suicide bombing is not a conventional warfare, the approach must include comprehensive anti-terrorism strategies for addressing the underlying causes of insurgence which include economic deprivation, radicalisation of unsuspecting and gullible youths as well as the effective use of intelligence community to block sources of funding and importation of explosive chemicals.

“The government should also ban the use of hijab by young girls until Boko Haram is defeated. The option of dialogue should not be closed. Massive education and de-radicalisation of the youths should be employed by the governments.”

Major Umar (rtd) added another dimension to the discourse saying: “So far, most of the local governments in question have been liberated. The big question is: President Buhari donated N21 billion to the Multi-National Joint Task Force while the American government gave $5 million.

“But till date, the Multi-National Joint Task Force of 8,500 soldiers from Cameroun, Chad and Niger, have not been involved in the fight to end the insurgency. Where then is the large amount given to end the fight against Boko Haram?

“More so, troops at the frontline are still complaining of lack of proper arms and equipment. Our Air Force has not been equipped with modern aircraft to end the insurgency on schedule. President

“Muhammadu Buhari and the COAS should put their money where their mouth is, if they really want to end the war on schedule. The Multi National Joint Task Force, MNJTF should move into the theatre immediately to bring an end to Boko Haram.”

In the view of the President/Convener of Nigeria Votas Assembly (VOTAS), Mashood Erubami, “the high expectations of Nigerians on fighting of Boko Haram are patently hinged on the trust they have in President Buhari as a former Military General and the change mantra of the APC.

“In this regard, fighting insecurity has become high on the priority list of the Buhari administration especially against the current trend of arms and ammunition proliferation in the country.”