Abuja—The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has taken punitive measures against senior military officers under whose watch a key brigade fell to Boko Haram terrorists last week.
Two Major-Generals and a Colonel, who were overseeing the Nigerian Army 5 Brigade have now been sent to the training and doctrine headquarters as part of the latest shuffling of top commanders of top commanders of the Boko Haram war, according to online platform, Premuim Times.
The withdrawal of BA Akinroluyo and CG Musa, Major-Generals, and IA Ajose, a colonel, from the battlefront comes less than a week after the brigade was attacked in Gubio, Borno State, on August 10.
At least four soldiers were killed and a large quantity of weapons carted away when the insurgents entered the brigade at about 6:00 p.m.
The attack also left large swathes of territory without military control across Borno, the heartland of the 10-year insurgency.
Military sources familiar with the latest posting, said the three officers were singled out for punishment for not doing enough to prevent Boko Haram from overrunning the 5 Brigade.
Ajose was the commander of the brigade when it was sacked by insurgents last week, while Akinroluyo was the theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole.
Musa was the theatre commander of Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole, overseeing northern Borno and Sector 3 Multi-National Joint Task Force. The 5 Brigade in Gubio falls under Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole.
A senior military source who spoke under anonymity, said the punitive measure against the three officers was obvious in the pattern of the latest postings by Buratai.
“The loss of Gubio was why the theatre commander, Sector 3 commander and 5 Brigade commander were the only ones affected,” the source said.
The remaining five of the total eight officers that were mentioned in the latest reshuffling were all posted to other units, including Bulama Biu, the general officer commanding 7 Division who may have been removed for throwing a party a few days after a colonel and six others were killed last month.
“Most importantly, they were not posted to any particular unit but training and doctrine for deployment. This is not the norm: officers are always posted directly to individual units with appointments except when it is punitive,’’ the sorce said.
Our source also said that unless pressure was mounted on Buratai, he might decide to retire the three officers or keep them perpetually idle at the training and doctrine command.
A spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, did not return requests seeking comments on the fate of the officers, especially whether or not they would be left redundant for a long period.
Buratai had threatened commanders and soldiers with harsh consequences should they give up their positions under heavy firepower from terrorists.
The warning first came in August 2018, a few weeks after Boko Haram’s Islamic State affiliate began a series of coordinated assault on Nigerian military formations.
The insurgents inflicted heavy personnel and equipment casualties in successive attacks on military bases across Borno and Yobe.
Buratai said he had learned that commanders and soldiers were abandoning their positions for terrorists rather than stand up to fight, drafting a new guideline which he believed would help address the attacks and heavy losses.
More than a year after the guideline was introduced, little evidence exists of its effectiveness. The attacks grew in frequency and toll.
Hundreds of troops have been killed, and top military officers, including colonels, captains and majors have lost their lives.
About two months ago, Buratai again described Nigerian soldiers as lacking the commitment to the counter-insurgency operation, which entered its tenth year last month. He blamed troops’ cowardice for the unchecked ruthlessness of Boko Haram.