•Loopholes in implementation of Super Camp Concept fingered
•Misunderstanding exists among N-East states, troops commanders
•Delay in payment of allowances to troops
•Buratai insists FG in total control of all Nigerian Territory
By Our correspondents
Abuja — Investigations have revealed that recent upsurges in the murderous activities of Boko Haram, especially attacks on soft targets in the North East, are the fallouts of misunderstandings and disagreements between the state governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states with the military commanders prosecuting the war against Boko Haram on one hand, and issues bordering on implementation of the super camp strategy of the Nigerian Army and timely payment of allowances to troops on the other.
The Nigerian Army and the Air Force have repeatedly declared that Boko Haram had been defeated after a very bloody war against insurgency, despite President Buhari making eradication of the terrorist group as one of his administration’s cardinal policies.
Claims of Boko Haram’s defeat have been particularly loud before and after the 2019 general election with countless operations in support of Operation Lafiya Dole launched by both the Army and Air Force, while death toll recorded on the part of the terrorists have steadily risen to some hundreds with airpower attacks, artillery and armoured tanks bombardments being more active.
However, recent brazen attacks on troops’ positions, abductions and killings of aid workers, attempted attacks on local governments’ headquarters and even state capitals as well as open admission by government functionaries that communities are still not free from Boko Haram’s iron grip are giving Nigerians a contrary opinion.
In the last few months, Boko Haram insurgents have attacked Governor Umar Zulum of Borno State, they launched an attempt to take over Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State; they launched an attack on Chibok community and on Christmas Eve, they attacked the heavily fortified town of Biu in Borno State which also hosts the Nigerian Army University.
Though in all the attacks launched with several gun trucks armed with anti-aircraft guns, rocket propelled grenades, mortars, high capacity IEDs and sophisticated assault rifles, troops have resisted and overpowered them, leaving in their trail, destruction, deaths of innocent victims and displacements of locals.
A member of the House of Representatives from Borno State, Usman Zanna said a fortnight ago that Islamic State’s West Africa Province, ISWAP, a faction of Boko Haram had displaced majority of the residents of his federal constituency.
He listed over 20 Boko Haram terrorist attacks on Gubio, Mgumeri and Kaga Local Government Areas in October alone, noting that due to increasing pressure mounted on his constituency by ISWAP, he can only access a part of one of the relatively safe local government areas, Kaga.
Acknowledging that “one cannot but appreciate the efforts that Nigerian troops are making to see that they secure the entire Borno State and especially my constituency, but I will not shy away from saying the fact that my constituency is one of the most challenged by insecurity posed by the ISWAP faction of the Boko Haram. Particularly, Gubio LGA was attacked for about nine times within the month of October alone. Magumeri was severally attacked in the month of September, where all government institutions are present, including the secretariat, the government lodge, schools, health facilities, private properties. My own house was burnt down by the insurgents.”
Zanna also said that Gajigana, one of the large towns in Magumeri Local Government Area “was attacked more than six times in the month of October this year.”
Also, Borno State governor, Umar Babagana Zulum while lending credence to the upsurge in Boko Haram attacks in the state during a visit to the State House, Abuja, said: “Well, I don’t want to go into much detail but as far as I am concerned, there were attacks in Gubio and Magumeri council secretariats. They were burnt down, health centres were burnt down, vehicles were burnt down, communication gadgets were also burnt down.
“And it is disheartening to note that since the advent of this administration, burning of secretariats and other public buildings, which ceased has resumed.”
On why the upsurge in the attacks, he said: “These questions remain unanswered. Most importantly, I am sure this government has done a lot and the discussions I had with Mr President shows that we are getting to an end very soon and I am optimistic that we shall get enough support.
“Right now, we are receiving support from Mr President but we are only appealing that the system is strengthened, for him to look into the porosity of the system, evaluate the system with a view to enhancing it.”
Loopholes in implementing Super Camp concept
On why Boko Haram terrorists move in gun trucks freely and attack with ease, Zulum said: “The most important thing is that there is this ongoing military strategy, according to the military authorities, what they called ‘establishment of super camps.
“It entails that all other smaller units in various villages and towns should be collapsed to form part of the super camps in some critical major local government areas.
“In our thinking as laymen, not as military personnel, we believe this decision is not wise. We must ensure there is a military presence in all the locations. We are much aware of their numerical strength but nonetheless, their absence can create a serious vacuum and that informed the recent attacks.
“Most importantly, we need to ensure that there is a robust mechanism on the ground to take care of them, to rehabilitate them and to reintegrate them when they surrender.
“However, I heard that the military is now trying to re-establish the military formations in those areas and they will not form part of the super camps. Honestly, the civilian JTF is working but the most important thing is that they don’t have the weapons to face the insurgents.
“Importantly also, the presence of the Nigerian military in almost all the locations especially in local government headquarters, need not be over- emphasized.
“I have told Mr President and he has listened to our complaints. He has done a lot for the people of Borno State and it is our sincere hope that this time around, he will take necessary steps to forestall future attacks.
“We have people from other countries that have joined them. I think that they are rebellious now and I think it is now an economic war. You can see them looting properties, carrying food items and others.
“I want to disabuse the minds of those saying it is religious. When they attacked Gubio, they burnt down an Islamic school, they burnt down the house of an Islamic teacher. That is all I have to tell you in a nutshell.”
B-Haram hoists flags
Also in Adamawa State this December, Boko Haram terrorists were discovered to have taken over a stretch of communities from Jane to Fadama and hoisted their flag up until troops carried out a clearance operation, dislodged them and destroyed their camps.
Their attempt in several gun trucks to also overrun a community in Chibok town was foiled by troops.
It will be recalled that Boko Haram also recently attacked the convoy of Governor Zulum at Konduga.
Security sources said the insurgents attacked the convoy in Konduga about 9p.m., while Zulum was returning from a trip to Bama Local Government Area of the state.
Zulum had visited Bayo, Kwaya Kusar, Askira Uba and Gwoza as part of his “familiarity and need assessment tour,” of the some LGAs in the state.
A source said, “Luckily, the governor, his commissioners and other vehicles in the convoy escaped unhurt but the last vehicle which was an army gun truck was pelted with bullets.
“Immediately after they fired at us, our men in collaboration with the armed personnel from the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, retaliated and thwarted the ambush,” the source added.
It will also be recalled that troops of the Nigerian Army from Sector 2, Operation Lafiya Dole, in conjunction with the Air Task Force, on December 22 and 23, delivered a humiliating defeat to a group of ISWAP terrorists in a failed attempt to massively infiltrate Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.
“During the encounter, the troops promptly mobilised and blocked the criminal insurgents’ advance along Gashua Road on the outskirts of Damaturu. On December 29, 2019, Boko Haram insurgents again launched an attack on Mandaragirau, a village in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State,” the source added.
The attackers who burnt down the community’s church and a school also abducted a man on their way out.
The attack which occurred in the night was not repelled, residents told newsmen.
Residents who had retired into their homes due to the harmmattan weather were forced to flee into the bushes as the gunmen stormed the agrarian village, shooting sporadically.
According to a resident, who spoke to newsmen from Biu, the gunmen set fire on the town’s church and a primary school and waited until it was completely burnt before they left.
”They have burnt down a church, a school and some shops in the town,” said the source who asked not to be named.
“They have also taken away one man who they caught while trying to escape,” the source said, adding that “the fleeing villagers spent the night out in the cold the morning.
“The locals have all returned to the town this morning,” he said, suggesting no one was killed in the attack.
Yusuf Adamu, a former chairman of Biu Local Government Area, who hails from Mandaragirau, while confirming the attack to newsmen said: “It was a sad development that happened to our people again last night.”
Another source said Boko Haram had in the past week sustained attacks on communities around Biu town which is the headquarters of Biu council, where the Emir of Biu has his palace.
From Christmas Eve to last night, the villages of Yamarkumi, Mainahari, Miringa, Buratai, and Mandaragirau have been attacked by Boko Haram, who appear bent on hitting the town of Biu.
Don’t allow terrorists divide us — Buhari
On December 26, 2019, Boko Haram terrorists beheaded 11 Christians and displayed the beheading in a video sent across the world to show that they were still visible and capable of unleashing violence.
This dastardly act prompted President Buhari to appeal to Nigerians not to let terrorists divide the country along religious lines, following executions by ISWAP.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari said the terrorists had no clearly defined agenda except the pursuit of evil through indiscriminate murder of innocent people, contrary to the teachings of Islam, which prohibits massacre.
According to him, no true Muslim will be shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ while killing innocent people, an evil frequently condemned by the Holy Qur’an.
Buhari had called on all Nigerians to be united against terrorists and avoid unhelpful conspiracy theories that serve the interest of Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAP.
ISWAP had released a video showing its militants beheading 11 Christians, saying it was part of a campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its spokesman.
The militant group posted the footage on its online news channel on Thursday, the day after Christmas, with Arabic captions but no audio.
Misunderstanding between North East states, Troops Commanders
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that lack of co-ordination between the state governments of the North-East is having a negative impact in the war as exemplified in the purchase of about 100 patrol vehicles for the Army by Borno State government to enhance the insurgency fight but was rejected by the military because it was not consulted while they were not the needed equipment or strategic requirements necessary to prosecute the terror war.
Delay in payment of allowances
On the payment of allowances, troops in the battlefield have continued to complain about delays and alleged differences in what is supposed to get to them, compared to the Police, DSS and NSCDC personnel among others also in the North East.
Emir of Gwoza hails troops gallantry in degrading B’Haram terrorists.
However, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai while leading the top echelon of the Army hierarchy and top commanders to celebrate the 2019 West African Social Activities, WASA and Medal Parade in Gwoza, Borno State declared that the Federal Government was in firm control of all Nigerian territories.
The COAS also visited the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Mohammed Timta to console him over the loss of his father, who was his predecessor.
During the visit on December 29, 2019, he said that he was there to condole with him as well as witness the Nigerian Army Medal Parade.
Buratai said “I am here for Nigerian Army Medal Parade and Nigerian Army Social activities (WASA) 2019.
“The parade is usually organised to honour our gallant officers and soldiers who have participated in Operation Lafiya Dole and have done exceptionally well in the efforts to secure our beloved country from terrorists and this time around, we brought it to Gwoza, in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. It’s quite symbolic because of the misadventures of the Boko Haram terrorists that were here sometime, and attempted to declare it their headquarters. This is now history as they have been flushed out since and peace has returned.”
Buratai insists FG in total control of all Nigerian Territory
“Clearly now the Federal Government is in firm control of every territory of our country and we are here to conduct this medal parade to honor our officers and soldiers who have been working tirelessly and patriotically in order to keep our country secure and united.
“Apart from the medal parade, we will use this opportunity to turn off the year 2019 and usher in the year 2020 by conducting our traditional cultural activities which we all know as the Nigerian Army Social Activities popularly known as WASA.”