The decision to pen this article came to me impromptu. I stumbled on a news item on an online medium, The Sun (UK), published February 18, 2018, which flashed a blistering news caption. It boldly read; “Terror, Exchange Programme: ISIS Commanders Sneaking Jihadis Into Nigeria From Syria to Train Them for Possible Attacks on Britain,” a story written by David Willetts, the newspaper’s Defence Editor in Kaduna, Nigeria.
At once my heart trembled. I quickly perused it and the chilling and startling revelations got me upset momentarily. The story also disclosed ongoing counter-terror training sessions between British and Nigerian troops in the country, all preparations to halt ISIS’ plots to consolidate its hold on the West African region.
And a statement credited to a senior Nigerian Air Force commander, Group Captain Isaac Subi, 46, said: “They (ISIS) come and train their fighters here and some of our insurgents too are granted access to their training in Yemen and Syria, after acquiring those skills, they come back to teach others. They have this exchange programme for fighters.”
Once again, my mind flashed back at the Nigerian Army. I took a deep reflection, reminisced on the severity of the insecurity situation in my country and, my fears further exacerbated by the contents of the news reports and looked at the gains made by the Nigerian Army in the counter-terrorism.
Gloomily, I recollected the casual manner some “thoughtless” Nigerians dismiss our troops or seek to disparage or mindlessly lampoon soldiers. I silently scoffed at the haters of Nigeria, the cynics and skeptics.
Then, I decided to scout for comfort by tasking myself to review what the Nigerian troops, led by the leader of the counter-insurgency war and Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai have done to curtail the monsters in the last few days. To my pleasant amazement, our troops were soaring higher and higher and they continued to deflate, suppress and subdue the unbending spirit of the terror monsters and allied armed local militias in Nigeria to give us the respite we savour at the moment.
What again struck me immediately was, the June rescue of over 148 civilians from Boko Haram’s captivity in Modu Kimeri, an obscure village in Bama LGA of Borno, Nigeria’s Northeastern state. It happened during clearance operations launched by troops of 21 Brigade under “Operation Lafiya Dole,” assisted by Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) members.
The operation was expansive in rooting out remnants of insurgents, and it stretched to Modu Kimeri and Gulumba Gana to the Lake Chad Islands. The freed hostages, included men, Women and Children. While the victims were in captivity, females were sexually violated or used as sex slaves and men were subjected to forced labour.
The month of June in the same Northeast, saw troops of 153 Task Battalion, in alliance with the Cameroonian Defence Forces, deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole, engage scores of terrorists on horseback in a fierce gun battle at Ngelkona in Ngala LGA of Borno State.
And our gallant troops again, overpowered the insurgents, and at least 10 of them died in the battle, as arms and ammunitions were also recovered. And the same feat was replicated by troops of 82 Task Force Battalion of Operation Lafiya Dole, who attacked fleeing terrorists at Ngoshe in Gwoza LGA of Borno. An insurgent fell to troops bullets, while ammunitions and Improvised Explosive Devices(IED) were recovered.
I was impressed at the fact that, another hard tackle in the raids of Boko Haram terrorists camps by Nigerian troop of 27 Task Force Battalion of Operation Lafiya Dole, in Yaridiri forest in Geidam LGA of Yobe state, shattered the insurgents. Some escaped with gunshots wounds; abandoned various rounds of ammunitions, other items and a cash sum of N2, 280,000 in the camp they fled from.
Also, in Adamawa state last week, Nigerian Army repelled Boko Haram raids on Kaya village in Madagali LGA of the state. The timely intervention of our soldiers frustrated the terrorists from visiting the people with devastating destructions and deaths.
And somewhere, in the Middle Belt region, where herders/farmers clashes have been infiltrated by local armed gangs, the Nigerian Army’s “Operation Whirl Stroke” is also performing wonderfully in the aid of civil security. A few days back, troops of the Nigerian Army arrested a suspected professional assassin identified as Shima Sange-ve and many other criminals during operations along the Benue/ Taraba border.
The suspected assassin, Sange-ve confessed during interrogations, to have led the gang that brutally murdered Mr. Denen Igbana, a Senior aide on Security Matters to Gov. Samuel Ortom and also responsible for other assassinations, armed robberies, kidnappings and cattle rustling in the areas. The suspect confessed that he led three others who were paid N100, 000 each for a job by Terwase Akwaze, aka (Gana) a wanted killer.
Thus, the Nigerian Army is not resting on its oars, but constantly reviewing and updating its counter-terrorism strategies. It recently launched “Operation Last Hold” and according to the Chief of Training and Operations (Nigerian Army) Maj. Gen. David Ahmadu, the new operation will last for four months and will be injected with six additional maneuver brigades and other critical assets into Borno State. The operation has taken the insurgency combat to higher levels of exploits.
Therefore, it was not a surprise to me when for the first time in six years, over 2,000 IDPs in various camps, in the Northeast returned to celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr at the deserted Gudumbali town in Guzamala LGA of Borno state. Intensified raids by troops of “Operation Last Hold” under the Theatre Command, “Operation Lafiya Dole recorded this feat.
I doffed my cap for the Nigerian military, when about a fortnight ago, 68 insurgents surrendered to the Army. This followed the ceaseless and massive onslaughts on Sambisa area, within the last three weeks in an organized air and artillery bombardment of locations within the Theatre of operations.
I was excited that despite the unyielding spirit of terrorists and satanic sophistry, nourished by the Iranian ISIS, the Nigerian Army has remained undeterred. It has demonstrated signs and performances on the battlefield to reassure and restore confidence in Nigerians, their competence and acts of justice have solved the nagging insecurity problems in our country.
Soldiers deserve our little encouragement, to enliven their spirits to do more for us (Nigerians). I send my special accolades to Lt. General TY Buratai and our troops.
By Prince Ugo
Ugo writes from the United Kingdom.