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BOKO HARAM: Buhari’s aerial and ground offensive bring respite, hope for Nigerians

Inspite of the seeming sustained storm rocking this administration since its take off, President Muhammadu Buhari’s equally sustainedtenacity and determination present an era of hope for the country, including freedom from terrorists’ attacks, going by the steady progress in its anti-terror war.

Combat analysts note that the war is sustained by strategic aerial and ground offensive operations by joint forces in the north eastern part of the country where the insurgents had previously occupied some areas.

Before Buhari’s administration, Amnesty International reported in March 2015 that attacks by suspected Boko Haram insurgents had increased, displacing many people and capturing territories.

In his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, Buhari insisted that it was not going to be business as usual when he directed the relocation of military command to Maiduguri to give extra vigour to the military’s campaign against insurgency.

With this decision and well orchestrated war strategies against terror, the story of the counter-insurgency operation changed tremendously.

In addition to the directive, on July 13, 2015, Buhari gave the war a boost by changing the service chiefs and ensuring that the entire operation got daily monitoring with the military heads based in Maiduguri.

The service chiefs on assumption of duty thereafter reinvigorated the military’s operation with the establishment of the military command and control centre in Maiduguri.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai particularly took the fight a step further when he added impetus to the operation by renaming it ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’, aimed at reinforcing the message of peace in the minds of the people.

Further to this in August 2015, the military got the marching order to clear all territories held by the insurgents in three months.

This was to be used as a basis for the assessment of the military’s performance in the anti-terror war and indeed the month of August recorded a lot of achievements in the counter-insurgency operation.

Boosting the morale of the military, Buhari commended the efforts of the military in fighting the insurgents but urged the new military helmsmen to justify the confidence reposed in them.

“You are all aware of the various security challenges facing our nation. These challenges include the activities of Boko Haram terrorists, armed banditry, kidnapping, militancy of various forms to mention a few.

“While commending the efforts of the armed forces so far, you need to brace up and continue to team up with other stakeholders to come up with a well coordinated joint effort which will bring the desired end to insurgency within three months,’’ Buhari said.

During the operation, the Nigerian Army reported that troops in recovery operations cleared some roads in parts of the north east of Improvised Explosive Devices planted by Boko Haram insurgents.

Col. Tukur Gusau, the spokesman for the 7 Div. of Nigerian Army, said the troops in Maiduguri recovered five explosives planted between Gwoza and Yamteke.

Apart from this, he said that the military successfully carried out several advance operations to liberate Boko Haram enclaves around Mafa, Dikwa, Gwoza and several other towns in the North Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

In the same vein, the Armed Forces (NAF) intensified operations within and outside Sambisa forest and other enclaves of the insurgents across the region in which ground forces, supported by the Nigerian Air Force fighter jets, carried out massive raids on many of the terrorists enclaves.

NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Dele Alonge said the strikes on Sambisa forest which were carried out by F-7NI and Alpha Jet fighter aircraft, as well as attack helicopters, came after several weeks of tactical reconnaissance by the reconnaissance/surveillance aircraft.

Also, the Army spokesman, Col. Sani Usman, corroborated the feat in a statement, admitting that the Army had successfully carried out mop-up operations in areas bombarded by the Air Force fighter jets.

Both spokespersons confirmed that several supply networks and bunkers of the insurgents in the Sambisa forest and in other areas were destroyed in separate operations.

On Sept.1, 2015, the Nigerian Army in a statement, announced the recapture of Gamboru Ngala in Borno by troops of the Army 7 Div. involved in the operation to stamp out terrorism.

The Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, stated that operation was supported by the NAF fighter jets.

“The Nigerian Army has retaken the economic and strategic town of Gamboru Ngala from the Boko Haram terrorists group today.
“The triumphant troops are now busy with clearing and mopping up patrols,’’ he said in a statement.

By Sept. 11, the Chief of Army Staff performed the symbolic hoisting of the Nigerian flag in the border town for the first time after several months of capture by the Boko Haram insurgents.

‎Subsequently, the military announced that its sustained offensive against Boko Haram was yielding results with scores of terrorists surrendering to troops in some of the affected areas.

Usman said that scores of terrorists in the region were surrendering to troops in the frontline due to sustained offensive by ground troops and pre-emptive air strikes by NAF.

He said the ground troops also adopted route-blocking strategy in a bid to drag the Boko Haram terrorists out of their hideouts.

In an effort to reintegrate the surrendered Boko Haram fighters, the Federal Government through the Defence Headquarters, inaugurated a national committee to workout modalities for the reintegration as part of its “carrot and stick’’ approach in the military campaign against the insurgents.

The Defence Headquarters in a statement said the outcome of the committee’s efforts would facilitate the establishment of the necessary structures and receptive centres to resettle repentant terrorists.

In October 2016, the military consolidated on the gains by reinvigorating operations against the insurgents through aerial bombardments and sustained ground offensives in the fringes of Sambisa and other flash points held by the insurgents.

There was intensified offensive by NAF and ground forces led by the Nigerian Army to meet the presidential timeline on dismantling the insurgents’ enclaves by Dec. 31, 2016.

With this, the counter-insurgency operation recorded a number of milestones including the interception of the insurgents’ food and logistics supply network as well as the arrest of key terrorist kingpins in parts of the northeast.

As a result of this, more than 20,000 square kilometres of territory in the three north eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, hitherto held by the insurgents were recaptured.

The Army authority confirmed that more than 80,000 towns and villages had been liberated by the joint forces in the region even before the deadline.

Assessing the war against insurgency, the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that significant progressive had been made in the region since the advent of the present leadership of the Armed Forces.

Presently, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force began the restocking of their logistic stores in the region to close-down on the remainder of the terrorists’ hideouts in the fringes of Sambisa and Alagarno forests.

In the light of this, NAF inducted Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and newly calibrated platforms to reinforce its aerial surveillance and bombardment of the terrorists’ camps in the Sambisa forest.

On Feb. 2, NAF in a statement said UAV destroyed a logistics base used by members of the Boko Haram terrorists at Garin Moloma.

The NAF spokesman said at the time of the UAV attack, the location, though under surveillance for quite a while, had a large gathering of suspected terrorists and vehicles.

The Nigerian Army recently announced that it had destroyed the remaining Boko Haram camps and enclaves around Alagarno and Sambisa forests in Borno, following weeks of sustained offensive operations.

On Feb. 27, the military authorities in Maiduguri reopened the Maiduguri-Damboa road, three years after it was closed to motorists as a result of the activities of the insurgents.

The opening of the road alongside other axis along Gamboru, Baga, Bama and others became possible following months of de-mining the roads by the joint forces bomb unit, using newly acquired mine clearing vehicles.

Buratai, who led a team of journalists and some transport union officials on a drive to Damboa from Maidugri, said the reopening of the road was significant in the anti-terror war.

He used the occasion to induct the new Army Combat Motorbike Battalion in Damboa as part of measures to secure roads in areas prone to attack by armed bandits or insurgents.

Currently, ground troops led by the Nigerian Army with support from the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, mobile police and NAF fighter jets continue to destroy hideouts of the insurgents.

Calm has returned to small villages, big towns and cities in the region as persons who had earlier been displaced from Gwoza, Bama, Damboa, Biu and Gamboru-Ngala, among other towns, returned to attest that the present administration has won the war against insurgency within a short period.

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