The military is carrying out a planned comprehensive massive operation with which it hopes to rescue the Chibok girls, regain all the Nigerian territories seized by Boko Haram insurgent and annihilate them
IF Boko Haram is a phenomenon that could just disappear by the verbal rocket volleys coming out of the different political campaigns, insurgency in Nigeria would have been consigned to the dust bin of history. The campaign teams have promised to snuff life out of the insurgents once Nigeria votes them into power in the forthcoming general elections. But all the tough talks could be easier said than done given that terrorism in any country is not something that can be wished away by mere talks.
Realising this, President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration has moved from tough talks to mapping out a plan for a final onslaught against the terrorists. President Jonathan on Saturday, January 24, told Abubakar Ibn Umar Garba El Kanemi, Shehu of Borno, and other traditional rulers in Borno State, that his administration would in a matter of few months bring a total end to the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency. The President, who visited the monarch as part of his nationwide campaign tour, regretted the unfortunate security situation in the state, assuring, however, that his administration had mapped out plans to rebuild the state after recovering lost territories from insurgents.
Few days after the president’s promise to the Borno Monarch, the military on January 29, recaptured Michika town in Adamawa State from the control of Boko Haram insurgents. Jonathan made the announcement at the presidential Campaign rally in the state capital, Yola, where he also revealed plans by the military to liberate Madagali town soon. The area is the only remaining local government in Adamawa yet to be retaken from the insurgents of the five local government areas in Adamawa were under the control of Boko Haram.
The success in Michika has bolstered Jonathan’s confidence to re-iterated his administration’s commitment to recapture all the occupied territories in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, dismissing insinuations from some quarters that the Presidency was behind Boko Haram activities in the North-East region for political advantages.
“I know the burden I am carrying because of Boko Haram and the daily conversations I used to have with some world leaders,” Jonathan said, adding that he would never forget Adamawa for being kind to him in the 2011 general elections, where he got over 65 per cent votes. He also asked God to forgive those accusing him of supporting Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast of the country.
Prior to the Yola rally, the Nigerian military authorities imposed curfew on Maiduguri, Borno state capital till further notice. The action is sequel to the ongoing coordinated air and land operations around the capital and Monguno against the Boko Haram terrorists.
The terrorists made spirited efforts in the early hours of Sunday to takeover Maiduguri, but were promptly repelled through intelligence gathering and pre-emptive strikes by the troops. The Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters gave update on its twitter handle, saying “Troops are repelling a simultaneous attack on Monguno and Maiduguri by Terrorists. “Coordinated Air and Land OPs being conducted now.”
The current success recorded by the military is part of the systematic planned “once and for all comprehensive operations” to eclipse Boko Haram insurgents who have intensified attacks in the north eastern part of the country especially in the frontline states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and parts of the North East that boarders of neighbouring countries.
The renewed onslaught on Boko Haram is being done in collaboration with Cameroun, Niger and Chad, which reportedly cross over to Nigeria on also Thursday to crush the insurgents.
“Nigerian military is reviewing strategy in the combat against terrorists to accommodate joint and combined operations with neighbouring military organisations. Massive deployment of air and amphibious assets are expected to feature in the operation. Preparatory to this mission, the Defence Headquarters has changed the General Officer Commanding the 7 Division which is the leading formation in the counter-terrorism campaign. The deployment for the mission is expected to facilitate the elimination of safe havens and escape routes of terrorists in or out of Nigeria, an online medium quoted a military source as saying.
The arrangement has enlisted the support of the military forces of neighbouring countries towards ensuring that the plan to effectively block the terrorists for elimination while they are being pounded in the ongoing counter terrorism campaign is effectively attained”, the source elaborated.
PRNigeria reported that onslaught against Boko Haram would soon start and it is expected to terminate well before the February 14, elections so that Nigerians living in every part of the country can vote in their towns and villages. However, it is expected that innocent citizens living in the areas where the terrorists presently operate are expected to have temporarily vacated any area infested by terrorists for safe towns away from the theatre of operations. It quoted Major General Chris Olukolade, director of Defence Information, as saying that the military would not relent in its efforts to restore peace to every part of the country as quickly as possible but that details of such efforts would not be disclosed now. He, however, admitted that all the countries bordering Nigeria are willing to complement the efforts in Nigeria as terrorism has remained a menace or threat to all in the region.
This notwithstanding, on Thursday, January 29, Mike Omeri, coordinator of the National Information Centre, alerted Nigerians to new ways Boko Haram plans to attack the country. Omeri told journalists in Abuja, that the terrorists “plan to hide explosives in the tool boxes of the cobblers and detonate them at markets, political rallies, ATM points, restaurant and places of worship. There is also indication of a plan to use livestock such as goats, cows, donkey and camels laden with explosives to attack chosen targets. In view of this, the general public, including persons operating within and around the aforementioned places, is advised to be vigilant,” the coordinator said. Omeri, who doubles as the director general of the National Orientation Agency, NOA, appealed to Nigerians to be more vigilant and conscious of suspicious activities in their vicinity. Omeri confirmed the release of some people who were captured by Boko Haram, saying they would soon be reunited with their families after proper counselling.
Nigerian is not waging the war on the insurgents alone. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, special representative of the United Nation, UN, secretary general for West Africa and special envoy of the United Nation to Nigeria, has expressed the support of the United Nations to Nigeria’s effort in her on-going counter-terrorism campaign. Chambas made this pledge when he visited the Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, chief of defence staff, at Defence Headquarters, in Abuja. The Envoy said the United Nation would be ready to give Nigeria all the needed support to counter terrorism. He supported collaboration with neighbouring countries in the efforts to defeat terrorism.
Responding, Badeh said that Nigeria welcomes any assistance that could help in the prosecution of her campaign against Boko Haram. He assured the UN Envoy that Nigerian Armed Forces would continue to adhere strictly to the rules of engagement and other guidelines relevant to the observance of the fundamental Human Rights and would work with relevant organisations accordingly. The CDS used the occasion to reassure the UN that the military’s presence and roles before, during and after Nigeria’s general elections were focused on ensuring peaceful conduct of elections and protection of lives and properties.
Despite the planned onslaught against Boko Haram, the fate of the kidnapped Chibok girls still cast a slur on the war efforts. That must be the reason Jonathan last week swore to rescue and bring back the abducted Chibok schoolgirls if re-elected for a second term in next month’s presidential ballot.
Speaking on the fate of the over 200 girls abducted last April by Boko Haram from their school dormitory in Chibok, Borno State, Jonathan said during a campaign rally in the state capital, Maiduguri: “We are working towards releasing the girls so that they will be reunited with their families after being in the hands of the terror group for such a long period. We must bring back the Chibok schoolgirls.”
There are also plans on the part of the federal government to rehabilitate war-torn communities. Talking about his post-war action plan, Jonathan said with the use of initiatives like Victim Support Fund, Presidential Initiative for Northeast and Safe School Initiative as well as increased budgetary allocation, his administration would rebuild and redesign the entire Borno State in such a way that children would have access to education and better future.
“We feel the pain of Borno people. I personally feel more pained when people accuse me of of being involved in the problem for some political advantage. I have said it many times that my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. And I don’t think any president or human being can do what they accuse me of doing. The Boko Haram problem is what I thought we would have ended long ago but may be external influence or interest is affecting us. I am assuring you, however, that it won’t take us more than a few months to end this insurgency and restore peace in Borno.
— Feb. 9, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT