TUKUR BURATAI, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, who, overwhelming lurid calls, few weeks back, have been that he, and other service chiefs, be eased out in the war against Boko Haram insurgency in the country, has relocated to Nigeria’s north-east theatre or war. He will oversee and coordinate troops of Nigerian army in the counter-insurgency war against Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, terrorists.
Nigerian Army Headquarters statement, last Friday, in Abuja, said: “The Chief of Army Staff has relocated fully to the North-East where he is overseeing and directing the overall operation in the theatre and other army operations across the country. The army wishes to reassure Nigerians that it is highly committed to protecting law abiding citizens and defending our territorial integrity”.
After visiting locations of the troops with reassuring messages, Buratai said his presence with them in the forest, this time around, is the final onslaught on Boko Haram. Thereafter, he hosted the troops of Operation Lafia Dole to Easter Delicacy, at the Army Special Super Camp at Ngamdu, a border town between Borno and Yobe, as motivation on the task ahead.
At the Easter celebration, Buratai told the troops: “You may wonder that this counter insurgency operation has lingered for too long. We all know globally that counter-terrorism is very complex. There are some countries that have fought counter terrorism for close to 50 years. But we’re not going to leave it to linger that long. We will have to finish these criminals very soon. We will not leave this camp until we achieve that.
“We are here, we will not leave this camp until we substantially degrade these criminals. By God’s willing, we shall be there with you no going back once we commence. We will be with you in the valleys, on the hill, in the jungle, in the river and so on. As I speak now, we have some elements that are providing us necessary intelligence and once we start, no going back. We are here and we make sure that we get ourselves properly motivated, properly equipped and I assure you will have the best of time.”
BURATAI’S RELOCATING to the theatre of war, may signals Nigeria’s fresh move, according to the army chief, that the battle line has been drawn with insurgents Boko Haram. Nigeria’s present move is coming after Chadian President Idriss Deby, personally, led and supervised massive military operation and offensive against the terrorists Boko Haram and their collaborators, ISWAP, on the banks of Lake Chad.
Idriss Deby’s coordinated operation, extensively, degraded Boko Haram’s rag-tag army, with huge causalities against the terrorists. Huge ammunitions were recovered. Military hardware in possession of the terrorists were, also, destroyed, in a widely publicised and commended operations.
Chadian President, Deby, and his army chief, after the operation, said the job of routing Boko Haram from the region has been carried out by his soldiers, 90 percent. This implied, according to analysists, that Nigerian soldiers have just 10 percent clear-up or mop-up operation. As such, Buratai’s relocation, and operation in the theatre of war is a windfall, under the cover of the job already done by the Chadian army.
BOKO HARAM, dared Chaldean President Deby, by killing about 92 soldiers in Boma, Lac Province, which borders Niger and Nigeria. The terrorists destroyed vehicles and carted away weapons. Deby, responded and called the attack on his soldiers, the deadliest-ever attack by Boko Haram on the country’s military forces. He vowed to crush Boko Haram within the Lake Chad region.
“We lost 92 of our soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers. It’s the first time we have lost so many men,” Deby said after visiting his troops, and the scene of the attack”.
Earlier in similar attacks, Boko Haram killed Nigerian soldiers. John Enenche, Major-General, and Coordinator, Directorate of Defence Media Operations, DDMO, confirmed the incident. He said troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, were ambushed and some soldiers killed, while on clearance and fighting patrol operation to Gorgi, Borno State.
“During a consolidation operation, the troops were ambushed by elements of Boko Haram Terrorists. Sadly, the Nigerian military suffered some casualties in the unfortunate attack,” Enenche said.
Boko Haram attacks have been a scourge in Nigeria. Unleashing criminal killings on citizens. Kidnapping scores of school children and rapping dozens of others, under the leadership of notorious Abubakar Shekau. United State of America, in 2012, placed $7 million rewards on information that could lead to the capture of Shekau, which the US tagged a Global Terrorist. Yet Shekau has remain evasive.
NIGERIANS Reacted to President Deby’s exploit against Boko Haram, which he demonstrated by leading the battle against Boko Haram from front line to motivate the troops. They called on President Buhari to emulate him. But Tony Momoh, former Information Minister, gave reasons while Buhari would not tow Deby’s style, by leading Nigerian soldiers on the front line, in the battle against Boko Haram terrorists.
Momoh, a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said Buhari as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, can monitor military operations from anywhere in Nigeria, and does not need to be personally involved in leading the troops.
“Every country has its own priorities. The fact that President Deby led Chadian troops to fight Boko Haram doesn’t mean he is at the war front and shooting guns. He was in the helicopter following them from place to place and they dealt with Boko Haram.
“Look at the army, we have the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs who head different operations; we also have commanders of different sectors. Which of them will Buhari lead if he wants to go and confront Boko Haram? Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief and can monitor our military wherever he is. Why should he go and lead the war himself? Is it because he was a military president? What if he is a civilian president?”
Momoh further augued that: “President Buhari cannot copy President Deby. Do you know the population of Chad? Boko Haram has been attacking Nigeria from Chad but when they now attacked Chadian army, the President had to lead the Chadian and retaliate.
“Chadian army is a well-trained army in guerrilla warfare. They have been fighting insurgency for years and spent more money on arms and ammunition than any other challenges they have. Chadian army is also a very hardened army, well-groomed in desert and guerrilla warfare,” Momoh was quoted by Independent.
NIGERIANS expect from Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General, and Chief of Army Staff, total mop-up of the remnants of Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest. He informed the troops that the operation would commence in no time. The views of many Nigerians are that the operation needs to be executed with precision, speed and efficiency. No more complacency on the part of General Buratai and his commanders.
Buratai had, also, assured the troops, while hosting them to Easter feast, that President Buhari has provided the needed support for the army to engage the enemies in the final battle. And would be with them through the operation, as he launches the final onslaught on Boko Haram elements in the northeast region
He implored the troops for courage and determination, and added: “I want you to have at the back of your minds that Mr. President is solidly behind you. We have already started getting the consignment of what we require for us to handle these insurgency and terrorism. It a matter of time and a very short time.”