Fighters of Jama’atu Ahl al-Sunnah lil-Dawa wal-Jihad otherwise known as Boko Haram and their Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, colleagues, have been weakened through series of counter-terrorism operations by the Nigerian Army that they have resorted to throwing stones at Nigerian troops.
Military sources at the theatre of war around the Lake Chad region confirmed that since the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai relocated to Borno State to lead the assault on the terrorists from the front; Nigerian Army has stepped up the fight leading to the killing of many of top commanders of the terrorist groups.
The sources revealed that apart from the killing of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, several weapons have been recovered from them while their bunkers, where they store large cache of arms, have been destroyed.
The Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were years back, fond of displaying in video clips, weapons captured from the armoury and daring Nigerian troops to come after them.
The source said in one of the operations carried out by the Nigerian Army recently, the Boko Haram and ISWAP not only abandoned their posts and ran as they were being brought down by troops, but that some of them picked stones and started hauling at directions they imagined the troops to be.
“They were confused and devastated as the troops chased them in their hundreds. After trying to fight back, they now realized there was nothing they could do again so they took to their heels but as the Nigerian soldiers pursued them, some of them picked stones and started throwing in all directions,” one of the sources said.
The source said this is an indication that not only have the insurgents run out of weapons, but that they are confused and helpless and would soon “be brought to their knees.”
Our correspondent recalls that the Chief of army staff moved to Borno State early this month after scores of insurgents were reported to have fled from Chad and found their ways back to Nigerian territories.
Buratai, had while addressing troops of Special Super Camp Ngamdu in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno State on 9 April 2020, said that he will be with them to the nooks and crannies of the theatre.
Buratai was at the Army Super Camp 1 at Mulai and the Special Forces Super Camp 12 at Chabbol near Maiduguri where he interacted with the officers and addressed the troops respectively and was also at the Forward Operations Base at Alau Dam, and also personally led the troops on patrol round Mairimari and Maigilari Forests.
While at Camp Zairo, the former operational center of the terrorists, the Chief of Army Staff charged troops to capture Abubakar Shekau, the factional leader of the Boko Haram terrorists group, alive or dead.
He said, “Let me say congratulations. But, we must move across to wherever this criminal – Shekau is and catch him red handed. I want you to get him.
“Mr President, Command-In-Chief of the Armed Forces says congratulations to all of you for recovering the Sambisa Forest.
“As far as we are concerned, we have come to the end of this operation (clearing the forest of remnants of terrorists). What is remaining now is the Lake Chad waters only and we hope to do that (clear terrorists from it) also very soon.”
He observed that the Boko Haram fight has lingered for too long and that the army is poised to rout them up within a very short time.
“There are some countries that have fought counter-terrorism for close to 50years. But, we’re not going to leave it to linger that long.
We will have to finish these criminals very soon. We will not leave this camp until we achieve that,” he stated and assured troops that he is going to be with them through the operations as he launches a final onslaught on the Boko Haram elements in the northeast region.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari has provided all the needed support for the army to engage the enemies in a final battle, which he noted will commence in no time.
He said, “We are here, we will not leave this camp until we substantially degrade these criminals. By God’s willing, we shall be there with you no going back once we commence,” he said.
“We will be with you in the valleys, on the hill, in the jungle, in the river and so on. As I speak now, we have some elements that are providing us necessary intelligence and once we start, no going back. We are here and we make sure that we get ourselves properly motivated, properly equipped and I assure you will have the best of time.
“Some of you have been here before like two, three times but I tell you are going to have the best of time. We want the best out of you. We need your courage and determination.”
The Army Chief also visited settlements within the Sambisa Forest like Bita and Tukumbere
The leader of the Boko Haram, Imam Abubakar Shekau seeing the renewed drive of the troops was reported to have called on the authorities to be lenient with his members.
Nigerian troops have since the recent operation started, closed in on many of the terrorists who out of desperation and bewilderment are running in different direction but mainly to old bunkers they were chased away from years back.
Residents of communities along the Lake Chad region are said to be in high spirits as they have spotted some the terrorists fleeing and trying to hide in the bushes.
Their dispersal by Nigerian troops has made it difficult for them to get victuals from their usual suppliers and are no longer able to asses more weapons and this has rendered them helpless.
There were indication last week that realizing the magnitude of the devastation on his fighters, the Boko Haram leader is said to be contemplating calling for a cease fire and discussing terms of surrender.
The Nigerian authorities had in the past offered to dialogue with the terrorists but the latter flatly refused and threatened to over throw the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
When the insurgents kidnapped the over 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State, they were approached by the Jonathan Government through intermediaries to state their terms for letting go of the girls.
But the insurgents backed out of the discussion and released a stinging video showing the captured girls and announcing to the world that they have married some of them off while selling some.
They were so powerful then that the impact of the negative activities were felt as far as Kano, Kaduna and the Federal capital territory.
In 2015 following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari, General Buratai took the fight to the strongholds of the insurgents and since then their activities have been confined to few locations on the borders of the Lake Chad.
The few attempts they made to try to prove their relevance by attacking Maiduguri, Garkida, Biu and Damboa between late 2019 and this year were all rebuffed with heavy casualty on the side of the terrorists.
They were using Chad as a base to launch their attacks but since March when they fell out with the Chadian authorities, the Nigerian army has moved in to complete what it started about five years ago.
The relocation of the Chief of Army Staff provided the needed impetus for the troops who went for the insurgents bringing quite a number of them down.
A most recent operation at Buni Gari in Gujba Local Government of Yobe State showed that the insurgents have been weakened and are only clutching at straws.
The Nigerian Army in that single operation killed one hundred and five Boko Haram insurgents and destroyed their weapons.
Apart from the insurgent’s top commanders and field soldiers, the Nigerian Army recovered five (5) AK-47 Rifles, three (3) GPMG, one (1) Duska Anti Aircraft Gun, one (1) PKT Gun, two (2) handheld radio, several ammunition and ammunition links, two (2) hand grenades, two (2) magazines with ammunition and assorted hard drugs, while one (1) terrorists’ gun truck was destroyed.
The operation was carried out by troops of Sector 2, Operation Lafiya Dole, led by their Commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence Araba.
General Araba attributed the recent success to intelligence report, which revealed plan by Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgents to attack the village and the troops swiftly intercepted and engaged the criminals in a fierce battle.