President Muhammadu Buhari is seriously working on his plan to totally eliminate Boko Haram insurgents by relocating the military command centre to Maiduguri and rallying international support for the war against the group
| By Olu Ojewale | Jun 15, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari appears not to be taking anything for granted in his determination to win the war against Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group, who have ravaged the country in the past five years. On his first official trip outside the country on Wednesday, June 3, Buhari visited Niger Republic and then Chad on Thursday, June 4, all in an effort to mobilise international cooperation in order to defeat the Boko Haram insurgence.
Speaking to reporters in Niamey, capital of Niger Republic, on Wednesday, June 3, President Buhari again vowed to destroy Boko Haram, saying “five years of the presence of the evil sect is enough.” The president who had a more than five-hour meeting with President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger said that the Nigerian Army which had earned a good reputation across the world, remains a virile fighting force to defeat the insurgents. I am four days in office today and we have already started the process of ending the insurgency”.
According to the president, the Nigerian army will now take a bigger role in the effort to crush Boko Haram, by taking over from soldiers from Niger in occupying towns liberated from Boko Haram. “On the issue of the Niger military positioned in cities of Nigeria … I think in the next four weeks we will be able to replace them with Nigerian forces so they can return to their country,” Buhari said.
Both Niger and Chad had played a leading role early in the year in driving the insurgents from Malam Fatori, Damasak and other Borno towns.
According to the two leaders, in the next few weeks, a new multinational force of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin would be established to combat the insurgency in the Lake Chad region. President Issoufou said his country was ready to “finish with Boko Haram and protect its borders, its people and their property.”
President Buhari said because of the peculiarities of terrorism, the movement of terrorists across borders and the unconventional nature of the war against terror, Nigeria would continue to seek the support of neighbouring countries in its bid to overcome Boko Haram.
Nigeria, he said, would also require the assistance of other nations and multi-lateral institutions to rebuild areas that had been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and rehabilitate displaced persons.
“My administration will bring new impetus and a renewed commitment to the efforts to wipe out the menace of the Boko Haram insurgents. As a first step, we have directed the relocation of the command post of the counter-insurgency operations to Maiduguri until such a time that the insurgency is completely defeated,” he said.
The president used the occasion to thank Niger for hosting as many as 150,000 refugees who fled insecurity in Nigeria to the country. “Our administration will work closely with governments of the affected states to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced persons and their host communities. The ultimate objective however, remains to end the insurgency and facilitate their return to their homes,” he said.
President Issoufou on his part commended the decision of the president to move the military command centre to Maiduguri, saying it “has further strengthened our conviction that the war against terrorism will soon come to an end.” He also assured Buhari that Niger would continue to support Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.
Before his trip, the president had, on Tuesday, June 2, received the Nigerian military chiefs including inspector-general of police at the Defence House, who briefed him on the security situation in the country. Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin, chief of naval staff, who spoke to the press after the closed-door meeting, said it was the desire of the service chiefs to maintain the current tempo with a view to sustaining the successes so far recorded until insurgents were completely routed. Jibrin, however, appealed to all Nigerians to continue to support the military by providing operatives with the needed intelligence. The information, he said, should include suspicious movements around them.
“You know as we continue to put pressure on them in the Sambisa area, they will try to run away from there and then create further problems, using improvised explosive devices,” he said.
Even as daring as the insurgents had become in recent times, the Naval chief said: “Like I told you, we are sustaining the tempo and the successes we have recorded so far. We want to continue to maintain that and if there are any suggested solutions that require amendments or alteration of what we’re doing, why not? Most especially the more they give us the intelligence, the better.”
Jibrin also disclosed that the service chiefs had started working out the modalities for the relocation of military’s command centre to Maiduguri as directed by President Buhari in his inaugural speech on Friday, May 29. “On the relocation of the command centre, we are the ones to go back and work on it. Soon it will be carried out, it is a presidential directive, it must be carried out, and we must do that as quickly as possible,” he told journalists who wanted to know the details of the meeting held behind closed doors.
Others who attended the meeting were Alex Badeh, chief of Defence Staff; Kenneth Minimah, chief of Army Staff; Adesola Amosun, chief of Air Staff and Solomon Arase, inspector-general of Police.
While the military chiefs were still working on plans to eliminate them, Boko Haram insurgents were also flexing their muscles. On Tuesday morning there another bomb blast rocked Maiduguri, Borno State capital. Many people were killed and several others injured in the attack.
Barely 24 hours after the suicide bomb attack at Maiduguri abattoir in which about 20 people were killed, another Improvised Explosive Device, IED, exploded on Wednesday, June 3, at a market on Baga Road, Maiduguri killing 14 people while 19 others were injured.
The explosive, according to Audu Isa, an eyewitness, was planted at the entrance to the market opposite Ibrahim Taiwo Divisional Police Station and exploded at about 5.00 pm as traders and customers were rushing home to beat the 7:00pm curfew.
According to Isa, “this blast was devastating and shocking, as the explosion rocked Bolori, Ummarari, Jajeri, Federal low-cost housing estates and Pompomari axis, sending smoke into the air for 15 minutes, before the Nigerian Red Cross, NRC, and National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, rescue teams rushed to the scene to evacuate bodies and the injured ones.” Adding that at the time the rescue teams reached the market, he had counted 11 dismembered bodies with some of the limbs ripped off.
Hamidu Ibrahim, a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force, CJTF, that had been patrolling the Baga-Bolori-Pompomari axis of Maiduguri metropolis, also claimed the explosive was hidden in a black polythene bag and planted in one of the entrances to the market and park before the suspected bomber detonated it at about 5:00pm. He said the rescue teams of NRC and NEMA evacuated 11 bodies with 19 injured persons to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri. Some of the injured persons reportedly had burns on their backs and faces; many of them died before reaching hospital.