The year 2020 will be remembered as the year the Nigerian Army recorded its greatest onslaught so far against the evils of banditry, insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.
This year has seen the Nigerian Army tackling all forms of insecurity in the almost all the geopolitical zones in the country with tangible and verifiable results!
The previous year, 2019 had not been a bad year for the military as it killed and flushed out Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists from most parts of the Northeast Nigeria which saw them fleeing to neighbouring African countries like Chad, Cameroon and Niger and made it possible for elections to be conducted successfully in all parts of the country including Borno which had high rates of security challenges.
But as internally displaced persons returned to their communities and the military was trying to consolidate on gains of the previous year so that complete normalcy would return, some of the terrorists who had fled from the superior fire power of the Nigerian Army and settled in Chad rose against the Chadian government and killed over 100 of President Idris Derby Itno’s special squad.
The killing saw the Chadian government moving against the terrorists, killing quite a number of them which forced many of them to run back to Nigeria.
The Nigerian military detected that the return of the insurgents was going to pose fresh security challenges for Nigeria and it quickly took action.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai offered to lead the operation that would check this challenge and flush the terrorists out of Nigeria for good and offered to relocate to Borno State to lead the troops from the front.
Some of the Chadian escapees who ran with their weapons by then have started showing signs of desperation due to hunger and had started raiding communities and killing innocent villagers to feed and dispossess them of their property.
But the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff to the theatre of war stopped all that as it introduced new strategies in the fight against insurgency and the Nigerian Army is sustained operations made it impossible for the insurgents to operate.
In one of such incidents, the Nigerian Army stationed in Damasak, Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State, repelled attacks by Boko Haram insurgents who swarmed the area at about 2:30 pm.
The insurgents had arrived in about 13 gun trucks and one gulf car and attempted to attack the military location from different angles by trying to envelope their camp, but soldiers countered them and the insurgents took to their heels.
Within the period, the Nigerian military also penetrated the fortresses of the insurgents and brought many down on their knees.
The military killed hundreds of terrorists in different locations in Kwalaram, Ngilewa, Sabon Tumbu, Bukarmairam, Wulgo in the Marte and Gamboru Ngala and in Gorgi, Damboa local government and in Buni Gari all in Borno State.
The Army also overran the camps of the terrorists in places like Durfada, Allafha, Timbuktu, Bulajibi and Gonikurmi near the Sambisa forest which led to surrender of the 11 of the ISWAP members.
Attempts to attack Maiduguri were twice repelled by the army and also in Damboa, Banki, and Madagali and other places with heavy casualties on the side of the insurgents.
Within two months of Butatai relocating to the Northeast, the military neutralised about 2,000 of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists while many were seriously wounded or arrested.
But as the military was pummeling the Northeast, the insurgents who could not bear the heat on them ran to the Northwest and Northcentral parts of the country to continue their criminal acts.
This agains drew the attention of Lt. General Buratai who by then had gone to submit reports of the success of the operation he was leading in the Northeast to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The new challenges posed by the worsening security situation in the Northwest states of Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kaduna, moving up to the Northcentral state of Niger, again compelled the Army Chief to personally move there.
By then the Northwest was becoming notorious for the rate of killings and abductions on a daily basis where entire villages are sacked by bandits, houses were being torched and valuables forcefully taken away.
On a particular day, the terrorists attacked several communities in Katsina and Sokoto States and killed hundreds of people.
In response, the Chief of Army of Staff, On the 6th of July 2020, as part of activities marking the Army Day, flagged off Operation SAHEL SANITY in Katsina State.
The operation was to complement Operation HADARIN DAJI in stemming the tides of the activities of armed banditry, cattle rustling , kidnapping, incessant killings and other crimes in the North-West zone of the country and before the end of July, the gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes and other aggressive and confidence building patrols within Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara States which led to the rescue of kidnapped victims, recovery of rustled cattles, arrest of suspected armed bandits, arrest of bandits informants and collaborators.
The troops also recovered large cache of arms and ammunition as well as motorcycles and other bandits logistics.
In less than a month, troops of the Operation SAHEL SANITY eliminated armed bandits, recovered 943 cows, 633 sheep/rams recovered; 33 suspected bandits arrested; 7 AK47 Riffles, 1 GPMG and 16 Dane guns captured.
The troops also rescued 17 kidnapped victims and arrested 14 bandits informants and collaborators and also penetrated several bandits’ camps including the notorious Dangote Triangle and destroyed their logistics bases.
The Army also mounted sentry in areas hitherto occupied by bandits making it impossible for them to regroup or launch fresh attacks.
Within a month of launching the operation, the people of the North-West Zone began to have sighs of relief as thousands of people that ran away from their communities after bandit attacks, began to return.
But last week was the icing on the cake when the army rescued 342 boys who were abducted at a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State without casualty.
The operation was so successful that many have called to commend the Nigerian Army for bravery and efficiency. The year 2020 is indeed a great one for the Nigerian Army and its proactive leadership.
Matthew is an author and public affairs analyst based in the United Kingdom.
Facts And Figure: 21 Reasons GYB Stands Out – Part 2 – By Chabor Musa Nyamgul Jnr
The curiosity that greeted the first part of this series on the glowing stride of an unusual 45 years old who superintends the Confluence State of Kogi from LUGARD HOUSE, Lokoja is profound.
The Young man in Kogi is not one who will fix a road and spend half the said amount in Commissioning the Road. He believes in hard work over propaganda. His strides are Olympic and his commitment to good governance incredible, and that is the enigma called GYB.
Follow me as we present the second Part of the 21 things that qualify Governor Yahaya Bello GYB for higher office, indeed GYB STANDS OUT.
8. Are you aware that in 2017/2018 whilst the media was awash with heavy criticism of GYB and whilst the many political Godfathers that be deployed the Press against him, The World Bank rated Kogi State as one of the 9 states in the Country that successfully reduced unemployment. Facts are sacred.
9. Are you aware that Kogi is not only the safest State in the North, Kogi is the second safest in the nation after the State of Osun. And Kogi has one of the most effective Vigilante Service that at some point have rescued kidnapped Police Officers. GYB has put a lie to the tale of Governors not being effective as Chief Security Officers of their States, having not only shown capacity and competency, GYB has made the Confluence State that shares border with almost 7 states the safest in the North, and the second safest in Nigeria. That’s the enigma called GYB.
10. Are you aware that cited in Kogi State is the third biggest Rice Mill in Nigeria built by GYB and functional. A very great stride that others will spend almost the equivalent in publicity, but with GYB service delivery is the way to go.
11. Do you know that GYB has built numerous skill acquisition centres across the three Geopolitical/Senatorial zones of Kogi, and that fully trained young men and women are given support capital, and that is why the World Bank MDG rating has Kogi amongst the best in Nigeria.
12. Whilst other States are busy profligately spending the Covid19 States Intervention and Support Fund, Kogi State is far gone in building one of the biggest medical facilities in Africa. To GYB “Even though I have my firm reservations on the Covid-19 pandemic, I have decided to spend the Covid-19 funds in building the biggest medical facility in this part of the world in
13. GYB patriotically mobilized the Federal Government and His fellow Governors into a NO SHUT DOWN of the Economy in the wake of the second phase of the Covid19 pandemic. He has maintained that until the Covid19 pandemic is dispassionately interrogated, we cannot afford another LOCK DOWN of the economy. How more patriotic can a leader be?
14. Kogi State is an example of proactive Youth competency and capacity in governance. GYB with a cabinet of average age of 46 has ensured a safe, effective and prosperous Kogi.
You are at liberty to interrogate these fact, as we believe that the enigma fondly called GYB is fit, able and qualified for higher office.
To Be Continued…
Chabor Musa Nyamgul Jnr.
Convener GOT YOUR BACK NIGERIA (GYB NIGERIA).
Gen TY Buratai: The General Who Led From The Front – By Philip Agbese
Change is inevitable. But whenever it occurs, what comes to mind is how those exiting would be remembered.
For the outgoing Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd), the answer is very simple; he would be remembered as the Army General who led his troops from the front.
That simple description sums up the difference between the outgoing Army Chief and others and in combat operations it means a lot.
It is akin to putting one’s life on the line to motivate others. Tales of military conquests are usually designed to fit the eppaulets of top commanders whether physically present at the action spot or through delegated orders.
But with Butatai, the courage is constant as he prefers to be in the trenches, feel the pulse of his fighting men and lead the battle from the front when the occasion demands.
He is known to have relocated to the Northeast and personally led various onslaught against the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists with great success.
It was through such processes that the outgoing Chief of Army Staff has been able to save the lives of no less than 30 million people directly and that of over 160 million people indirectly.
Before Butatai was appointed Army Chief, Adamawa State which has a population of 4,248,400 people, Borno State with 5,860,183 and Yobe with 3.4 million were all under threats of annihilation.
No less than 20 number of local governments within the three states which are bigger than some countries, were taken over by Boko Haram terrorists as people were constantly being killed, abducted, harassed and terrorised.
General problems of insecurity pervaded the landscape. In the Northeast, it is said that since 2009 when the Boko Haram started, the groups have killed tens of thousands of people and displaced about 2.5 million people and the zone was experiencing severe humanitarian crisis which left about 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid.
In the Northwest, problems of banditry escalated as communities were sacked and people abducted. It was almost the same in the Northcentral were abductions for ransom became the order of the day and attacks on communities increased.
Such criminal activities even extended to the southern parts of the country where cases of kidnap and other criminal activities including secessionist bids heightened.
But by the time General Buratai and his colleagues moved into action most of these acts of terrorism were curtailed reducing for instance, the number of Boko Haram attributed deaths in the Northeast from more than 5,000 in 2015 to hundreds in 2020.
The presence of the Chief of Army Staff, at the battlefield was of great positive effects to the troops.
It made them to push hard until they penetrated the fortresses of the insurgents and subdued them in their numbers within the first six months of his assuming office .
The army was able to sustain the pressure on the terrorists that the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau was heard in an audio tape begging for mercy and since then Nigerian troops continued to dominate the fight foiling every attempt by the insurgents to launch attacks and capture territories.
The height of it was the release of the over 300 boys at a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State.
Many did not know the antecedents of General Buratai and probably what made him to be chosen as the Chief of Army Staff.
General Buratai was the Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), a military co-operation between Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon to fight Boko Haram terrorism.
He was specifically chosen to head the 5-Nation organisation because of an experience that almost ridiculed the combined efforts of these countries.
In January 2015, Boko Haram attacked the MNJTF headquarters in Baga in Borno State, overran the place and went ahead to massacre innocent civilians in the town.
That experience was one of the lowest points for the Nigerin Armed Forces as many claimed soldiers took to their heels in what was later described as tactical manoeuvre.
The incident led to the reorganisation of the outfit and General TY Buratai was appointed to head the restructured outfit as the first Nigerian to occupy that position.
From then, the five countries began to witness improvements in their security and Nigeria was able to hold an election in March of that year.
It was not surprising therefore that President Muhammadu Buhari would appoint General TY Buratai as the Army Chief shortly after inauguration as president of Nigeria.
Apart from combat operations, General Buratai during his tenure enhanced civilian military coperation in Nigeria that people no longer see the Army as a force of occupation but as partner in progress.
The army under him has built bridges, roads, hospital and schools for communities in line with the Army’s improved Civil-Military relations activities or Corporate Social Responsibility.
The Nigerian Army for instance set up an isolation centre at 32 Artillery Brigade, Owena Cantonment, Akure, in Ondo State to help put an end to Covid-19, established the Nigerian Army University Biu, and a 200 bed Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Maiduguri, Borno State to cater for the health needs of soldiers who sustained injuries while fighting the counter-insurgency war and to serve people in the immediate communities among other things. The nation actually knew it had a General in Buratai who led from the front at all fronts!
Agbese wrote from Abuja.
Southwest’s Lingering Conflagration And Its Political Undertone – By Rotimi Akinbile
Finally, the missing link in the puzzle unfolding in Southwest Nigeria has been discovered with the recent expose by no less a person than Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters.
Ojudu in a widely circulated piece he wrote, narrated how a meeting was arranged between Southwest political leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and leading Southwest political thug, Sunday Igboho in order not to disrupt the Ekiti rerun election in 2009.
The story confirms what many have been saying about the real forces behind Igboho who recently issued a quit notice to Fulani in Yorubaland and has even moved to enforce the order by sacking the Sarkin Fulani and his family from Igangan community in Oyo State.
The boldness Igboho exhibited to issue the threats and the swift manner he moved to enforce his own orders coupled with the fact that he has not been arrested up till now, goes to reinforce the fact that Igboho is not a mere thug but a well equipped tool in the hands of certain politicians.
The question is, who are these powerful politicians that are using Igboho to cause confusion and mayhem in Nigeria. An analysis of the Ojudu narration exposes two things: the first is that Igboho is a political thug available to the highest bidder, the second is that, many of the top politicians in the Southwest are aware of this and they use him when the occasion demands and three, that the political godfather of the Southwest, Tinubu, does not only know Igboho but had used his services in the past to his advantage and even offered him a ‘golden handshake.’
What can be deduced from this is simple: that since 2009, there has been a relationship between Tinubu and Igboho and two, that with Tinubu’s ability to offer a ‘golden handshake,’ that the loyalty of Igboho could be and has been sustained over the years.
This, exactly is why current happenings in the Soutwest cannot be dismissed as mere happenstance by some misguided elements to evict the Fulani from Yorubaland as it bears all the traits of a rehearsed plot.
The whole episode bears the mark of a script well written to draw the attention of the rest of the country to the Southwest and to pressure certain political forces into accepting certain candidates that have not been accepted as eligible to succeed Mr. President.
First, it was the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu who asked the Fulani in certain parts of his state to vacate those places or be penalised.
Then Igboho fell into the picture and the entire country has not remained the same again.
As one tries to make meaning out of the matter, it will be apt to scrutinise the precedent scenario so as to grasp the full picture of what is going on in the Southwest with Igboho and Tinubu.
In the late 90s, when it was clear that General Sani Abacha was not ready to hand over the reins of government to anyone else, but was bent on perpetuating himself in power, politicians in the Southwest took a decision aimed at forcing the General to quit and sponsored Ganiu Adams to take over the leadership of the Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, from Dr. Federico Fasehun and the OPC under Adams began to unleash mayhem in the Southwest that made governance more difficult for Abacha.
By then, many of the NADECO leaders including Tinubu had gone on self exile and the junta could not identify the real forces behind the OPC. It was much later when Nigeria returned to democracy and most of those self exiled pro-democracy activists returned that the picture became clearer that it was just a political tool to protect and advance the cause of certain interests.
Now the whole drama is being repeated with a slight adjustment to the dramatis personae. Rather than Adams, we now have Igboho, but the people behind the plot, those directing the scenes from behind have not changed.
Clearly, what is happenings in the Southwest is the voice of Jacob but the hand of esau. While it is Akeredolu and Igboho whose voices are being heard, it is obvious that it is Bola Ahmed Tinubu that is somewhere playing the music.
It is well known that Tinubu wants to be President of Nigeria and his quest for the coveted office has intensified in recent times because age is not in his side and this seems his best opportunity given that he belongs to the ruling party and the incumbent is serving his seond term.
But Tinubu has been served sufficient notice that APC cannot hand over the presidential ticket to him as there are many issues dogging his ambition that makes him ineligible for the presidency.
The first is that he has many criminal allegations against him that it will not be good to have him succeed a President who has done much to fight corruption.
The second is that he was the one that nominated the current vice president and it will not be fair to exclude other politicians from the Southwest who have served the country well in order to please him and thirdly, it is the people that will decide their President in 2023 and not any other person.
But Tinubu appears desperate and is trying all including using the old and discarded methods of NADECO to twist the arms of the powers that be. This is why Igboho has been unleashed on us.
But Tinubu’s presidential ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian as it self serving and not based on the desires to transform the country.
Nigeria does not need people who believe in the power of money and violence. It is time the nation is freed from the grip of the old order and allowed to move ahead.
Akinbile is a public affairs analyst and wrote from Akure.
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