BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
But for the May 14 declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by President Goodluck Jonathan and the deployment of special forces of the armed forces, the police and the Department of state security to quell what clearly was an attempt to breach the territorial integrity of the nation, Nigeria would not have been one entity today.
From these states, the strategy of Boko Haram terrorists was to launch a jihadists type invasion of the entire Northern part of the country hence the gradual build up of arms depots and training/recruitment centres in several parts of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa where several raids were carried out on banks, prisons and police stations for arms caches and members recruitment and kidnapping of women.
Prior to the declaration, the Boko Haram terrorists had become so emboldened that they planned to hijack commercial aircraft fully loaded with passengers and use it to attack one of three national monuments, namely Aso Rock Villa, the seat of the federal government, the Central Bank Headquarters (CBN) Glass house and the Four Towers headquarters of the NNPC in Abuja.
Intelligence material had shown that the terrorists would not have given a hoot about the lives of the passengers that would have been on board and in carrying out the 9/11 style aircraft attacks on Aso Rock and NNPC Towers and the message would have been that having taken over the North East, the federal capital is their next target.
Of course, having successfully bombed the Nigerian Police headquarters, the United Nations House, Abacha barracks mammy market and several churches in Suleija and Madalla close to the FCT, they believed nothing was impossible for them to achieve.
Towards this end, security sources told Saturday Vanguard that the terrorists acquired Anti-Aircraft Gun and Long Range Surface to Air technical guns, meant to shoot down aircraft that flew over the North Eastern part of the country especially the Sambisa and Gwoza forest areas where they had hoisted their flags which served as headquarters of their operations.
Upon discovery that this was the plot and knowing the social, economic and political implications of the terrorists succeeding, security agencies immediately informed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other aviation bodies to stop all local and international aircraft from over flying the North East airspace to avoid collateral damage.
All commercial aircraft both local and international were subsequently diverted from over flying the North East areas except military aircraft.
In fact, it was in furtherance to unearthing the weapons capability of the terrorists that troops of the Multi-national Joint Task Force on reconnaissance mission to a Mosque in Baga, discovered anti-aircraft guns and rockets which were to be mounted for their targets.
“As I am talking to you, many people will not know that in one of the deadly Boko Haram attacks and coordinated bombings in Kano state which resulted in the destruction of the headquarters of the AIG, Zone 1, and the killing and wounding of over 90 people including Policemen, Immigration, Customs and Federal Road Safety officers, the terrorists tried getting to the Kano Airport for a sinister motive”, a security source said.
Things got so bad that during the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to Borno and Yobe states, to assess the level
of destruction by the group, as well as reassure the people of the country’s concern; intelligence agencies intercepted Boko Haram terrorists plot to shoot at the Presidential Jet.
This was however thwarted following massive deployment of security operatives as well as technical equipment to the two states with ability to intercept signals of such attacks.
Following these deployments and raids, two anti-aircraft guns, several anti-aircraft bombs, GPMG’s, AK 47 Rifles and other heavy weaponry were recovered in some houses in Maiduguri. Aside these recoveries, conservative estimates put the number of Nigerians murdered, massacred, and brutally sent to the world beyond, at over 10, 000 since 2007.
It is against the backdrop of these brazenly devilish actions and several deadly suicide attacks, bombings and maiming of thousands of innocent Nigerians, which made the populace wonder if there was a sovereign authority in place, that the declaration by President Jonathan was welcomed with a sigh of relief and celebrated.
August 14, 2013, made it three months, which is half way stage of the six months (first phase target), set for the implementation of the state of emergency to flush out terrorists, whom it has been confirmed, have links with the dreaded Al Qaeda group and the overwhelming assertion from both within and outside the country is that the state of emergency has successfully restored Nigeria’s sovereignty.
Notwithstanding the sporadic asymmetric attacks on certain soft targets like schools, places of worship, markets, the consensus is that the Joint Security operation which has wiped out many of their camps, have drastically reduced the rate of bombings and attacks in places outside the North East epicentre of the terrorists.
The improved security situation as indicated in the general assessment has resulted in the ongoing phased restoration of telecommunication services in the states where these had to be withdrawn at the beginning of the operation.
Hence Adamawa and Yobe states now have telecommunication services restored while Borno state government that has come to appreciate the wisdom in cutting off telecommunication services wants the JTF to tarry awhile for more successes before the services would be restored.
In meeting the mandate of Mr. President which includes destruction of all terrorists camps/bases, apprehension of perpetrators and bringing them to justice, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, ensured that both MI 35 Helicopter Gunships of the Airforce and long range Artillery guns of the Nigerian Army were used to flush out the terrorists from their mountainous hideouts.
Thus with the synergy existing between the CDS, Service Chiefs, the IGP and the DG SSS, the mandate has substantially achieved its target of destruction of the strongholds and bases of the terrorists leading to the capture of many sect members including women and children. Most of them (women & children) were however freed from the camps as their captors fled in disarray.
In several updates and briefings on the special operation in the North East, Director of Defence information, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, did say and it was confirmed that a total of 58 detainees linked with Boko Haram terrorists were released in Borno and Yobe states in keeping with Presidential directives.
This comprised 23 women and 35 children, with some of the teenagers confessing that they were conscripted to run errands for the terrorists who paid them N5, 000 to monitor troops and set public buildings ablaze. The women and children were subsequently handed over to the governors of Borno and Yobe states for rehabilitation and reintegration.
At this juncture, one must salute the courage and supreme sacrifice that had been paid by over 30 dead military and police officers as well as the SSS since the operation started. Some were killed by landmines; some got killed during ambush while others died during crossfire.
A little over a fortnight ago, fifteen of these gallant officers including two Army Majors and thirteen soldiers killed by the terrorists were given national burial at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja. Another twelve soldiers and seven Policemen were killed near the border between Borno and Cameroon on August 4.
The 15 soldiers are Major Abdullahi Fambiya, Major Abdulllahi Kanoma, Staff Sgt. Keku Adebayo, Corporal Ahmed Usman, Cpl. Mathew Ade, Lcpl. Adamu Ibrahim, Lcpl. Suleiman Gimba, Lcpl Saduaki Salisu, Lcpl Usman David, Lcpl. Olusola Ajani, Private Zakariya Dauda, Private Daniel Kantona, Private Nya Bassey, Private Bassey Emmanuel and Private Enyenihi Effiong.
In contrast, a number of terrorists, over 1,000 of them have been apprehended by the Special Forces. Many of them have also died in battle. This was made possible by various resources including trained Military Police dogs that facilitated the arrest of insurgents who tried to infiltrate cities after being dislodged from their bases at the onset of the operation.
A recent encounter in the terrorist’s main enclaves in Balabulin Nganaram, Aljajeri and Faluja in Maiduguri metropolis led to the death of Amir of Balabulin Nganaram, one of the kingpins on the JTF wanted list. During the encounter, many women and children were rescued and handed over to their families by the JTF.
Cordon and Search operations have started enjoying tremendous support and cooperation of the locals; and several terrorists including their foreign members are being tracked down. Key terrorists especially those in the cadre of Amir and those helping their renewed mobilization and recruitment of minors are being hunted.
An outcome of the cordon and search operations in Balabulin area of Maiduguri recently, is the discovery of a vast network of underground tunnels connecting houses and many bunkers, some of which have the capacity to accommodate over 100 persons. More corpses were also discovered in soak-away. Various weapons were discovered in the same area.
Abubakar Shekau’s parent’s in-law were picked up in the raid which also discovered various audio recordings of terrorists’ messages. Since then, recoveries are made almost on a daily basis as the operation progresses. Some of the recoveries which the media had opportunity to inspect in the camps are of frightening proportion.
They include 5 Rocket Propelled Grenade, 14 IEDS, 8 AK 47 Rifles, 9 AK 47 Magazines, 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade Charger, 1 G3 Rifle, 3 FMC Magazines, 166 Rounds of 7.62 mm Special, 3.35mm Bazooka, 34 Rounds of 5.56mm.
Others include 1, 740 rounds of 303inch, 10 Rounds of 7.62 NATO, 1 round of .50mm, 1 Dane gun, 1 locally made pistol and 2 mega phones. In one of the updates on the operation, General Olukolade himself acknowledged that most of the arms and ammunition seen and recovered from the terrorists are those nobody ever thought were in this country.
The operation further exposed the ideological confusion professed by the so called Islamic sect as a lot of immorality was unmasked and their true identities of drug addicts, abusers of cocaine, heroin and Indian hemp were let out of the bag. The discovery of large storage of both used and unused condoms explained the resort to kidnapping of women also.
In fact the international community recently came to terms with the magnitude of the atrocities committed and the mass murder perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorists when the International Criminal Court (ICC), indicted the group as a murderous terrorist organization saying its leaders and members of the group will face charges of crimes against humanity if arrested.
As a way of working to curtail the new tactic of launching isolated attacks on soft targets to try to feign relevance, the military authorities have decided to boost the security cover of states under the emergency. In this direction, additional troops are being brought back from the peace support operations in Mali to join the internal security operations.
One area of concern raised by observers is the allegation that certain human rights abuses have been committed on the part of the special forces but authorities contacted pointed out that the zeal to indict the operation on issues of human rights should also note the peculiarity of the situation in relation to infrastructural capacity for managing the insurgents preparatory to ensuring that they face justice.
Firstly, judicial officers including Judges, Lawyers have always rejected having anything to do with Boko Haram suspects. Prisons and Police Stations where these suspects would have been detained have all been attacked and destroyed thereby making it impossible to achieve quick dispensation of justice.
In another development, troops have engaged and dislodged elements of insurgent groups who carried out attacks on citizens in localities such as Gamboru ward recently.
At the end of the encounter, a total of 10 suspected terrorists were confirmed dead while weapons such as Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers, assorted ammunition and rifle magazines were recovered. The area is being combed to fish out any of the surviving insurgents.
Also, some of the fleeing insurgents from various camps have been noted to be in search of fuel from neighboring communities.
Citizens are advised to report to JTF, any group of persons roaming around the local communities with large quantities of containers in search of fuel. The advance of troops is continuing in all fronts as scheduled.
The Defence Headquarters has further enjoined the troops to sustain the intensity of the operations.
Saturday Vanguard was further told that the shooting at, of an Air force Helicopter Gunship by the terrorists from the dreaded Sambisa Forests where several camps for recruitment, training and IEDS construction were based, using anti-aircraft technical guns from mounted vehicles, confirmed that indeed the terrorists were on course to carry out that plot.
2 Majors, 13 soldiers killed by boko haram buried in abuja as Jonathan vows to win war on terror
Also speaking at the event, Minister of State Defence, Dr. Erelu Olusola Obada stated that the country appreciates the bravery of the fallen officers and men, and promised federal government’s support for the military.
“On behalf of the armed forces, I want to reiterate that the gallant efforts of these men who proudly showcased the great spirit and tenacity to serve and save our nation from destructive elements shall not be in vain. We therefore see their death as noble in the course of duty to serve humanity”.
“The nation appreciates the great sacrifice of these men and other members of the armed forces of Nigeria who continued to make sacrifices to ensure enduring peace in our nation and other parts of the African continent.
We are committed to doing our best in supporting the armed forces in the call to duty and ensure the unity of Nigeria”.
She added: “Let me end by saying, and I quote, ‘good men must die but death cannot kill your names’ and the names of our fallen heroes will never die in our hearts”.
Speaking on behalf of the next-of-kins at the event, Pastor Iliya Joshua called on government to thoroughly investigate the cause of death of the officers and men as their death remained a mystery to them.