By Adamu Abdullahi
Naked reality staring Nigerians in the face is that our beloved country is at war. But like wildfire, this unconventional warfare has spread to neighbouring countries within the Lake Chad Basin such as Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Though, some may beg to differ with the aforesaid thesis, probably because they are not living very close to the theatres of operations in the North-East, North-West and North-Central zones where terrorists, armed bandits, militiamen and other criminal gangs are unleashing mayhem on innocent; armless and defenseless citizens almost on daily basis.
While they may deliberately turn blind eyes to the daily reported encounter between the nation’s Armed Forces and other security agencies with these enemies of the state, which oftentimes turned bloody with the military always compelling the terrorists or bandits to flee in disarray and, in the process, inflict severe human and equipment casualties on them, such playing of ostrich will never reverse the obvious reality.
Meanwhile, the recent call by the Commander-in-Chief, President Mohammadu Buhari, to the High Command of the military, to redouble its determination to bring an end to the barbaric activities of terrorists, armed bandits, crude oil theft and other crimes in parts of the country, is, no doubt, beginning to yield tremendous successes.
The final military onslaught against terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements across all theatres of operations has put the terrorists and their allies in a panic mode.
This is evident in the daily reported cases of killing of these mindless criminals in their numbers, recovery of cache of arms and ammunition, destruction of their identified enclaves, tactical and logistics base, as well as smashing of their arm supply syndicate.
ALSO READ: Troops kill 7 Boko Haram terrorists, 9 bandits in North East & Norh West in clearance operations.
Only recently, troops of Operations Sahel Sanity, deployed at Forward Operation Base Sabon Birni LGA of Sokoto State, successfully dismantled a notorious illegal arms smuggling syndicate that specialized in massive arms supply to bandits in the North-West from across the international borders.
This unprecedented stride of the military high command followed a painstaking undercover operation by the troops in the area.
Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, recently disclosed that Operations Sahel Sanity valiant troops have not relented on their quest to finally crush banditry in the North-West.
Giving details of the gun smuggling syndicate, Onyeuko said the trio of Alhaji Adamu Alhassan, Salisu Adamu and Abdullahi Sani, all Nigerien citizens, were intercepted by eagle eyed troops at Dantudu in Mailailai District of Sabon Birni LGA of Sokoto State with six AK 47 rifles, three AK 47 rifle magazines and 2,415 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition deceptively concealed in various parts of their vehicle.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the dangerous consignment was meant for some bandits in Isah LGA of Sokoto State which could have led to loss of thousands of lives but for the swift interception of the vigilant troops.
Speaking on the fight against insecurity, a former National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Waziri Bulama, said, “There has been progress in curtailing insurgency in the North-East and the entire country.
“I’m from Maiduguri, I was born and raised in Maiduguri and I have lived in every part of the city all these years. I witnessed when this crisis started and when it exploded and later developed into insurgency.
“Clearly this government has done a lot in fighting these criminals, especially around our major towns.
“For instance, in 2015, Maiduguri was totally isolated and cut off. It was like a refugee camp, no flights, no economic access, no schools, nothing.
“But now, the situation is different as life has returned to normal in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Mubi, Yola and all these places in the North-East. So there has been a great deal of improvement.
“Also, government has taken measures to reconstruct the North-East by creating the North-East Development Commission, and many displaced persons have been resettled, but there is need going forward to strategically map out a plan for closure, bringing this crisis to an end and resettling people once and for all.
“I think this is what we must do. There’s a need to bring this crisis to a closure by all means, though; there are sporadic attacks here and there, there’s every need to put all hands on deck to strategically bring this crisis to a closure”.
Briefing journalists last week in Abuja, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, said the various operations have progressed satisfactorily, saying, “Troops of Operation Hadarin Daji have continued the aggressive clearance operations in the North-West.
“We have witnessed a downward trend in the activities of armed bandits and criminal elements in the zone with the gallant troops of Operation Hadarin Daji carrying out series of clearance operations, ambushes and other aggressive and confidence-building patrols. “These operations have, most importantly, led to the neutralization of armed bandits, arrest of suspected bandits and their collaborators, rescue of kidnapped victims, recovery of rustled cattle, smashing of illegal arms syndicates and illegal armed miners”.
He posited that troops neutralized two armed bandits at Samawa village in Bungudu Local Government Area of Zamfara State with a bandit named Sada surrendering three AK 47 rifles, one SMG and two magazines to troops of Forward Operating Base Dansadau, also in Zamfara.
Enenche said, “Troops of Operation Thunder Strike, acting on credible intelligence, successfully ambushed armed bandits at Jeka Da Rabi along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
“During the ambush, troops neutralized four armed bandits and recovered one locally fabricated rifle along with 5 rounds of 9mm ammunition”.
In related development, according to him, troops of Operation Safe Haven arrested 35 suspected criminals during raids on some identified criminal hideouts at West of Mines, Mid West, Charcoal Market and Busa Buji areas of Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State, stressing that the raids were conducted following intelligence reports of criminal activities in those areas.
The Coordinator went on, “On 5 September 2020, troops of Operation Safe Haven raided hideouts of suspected Sara Suka criminals at Yantifa, New Market, Terminus and Bauchi road in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State. Troops apprehended 20 Sara Suka suspects at the location while two members of a syndicate specializing in the production of fake security agencies identity cards were also apprehended.
“Currently, all the arrested suspects are being profiled after which they will be handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agency for further action.
“In addition, on 8 September 2020, troops of Operation Ayem Akpatuma III killed a militia leader, Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, during an encounter with troops around Gboko in Benue State. 40 members of his gang were also captured alongside arms and ammunition.
“This has been a tremendous achievement by the military as there had been great jubilation since the death of Gana was announced. Gana and his notorious gang had terrorized the state for long”.
On the military Operations in Southern Nigeria, Enenche said troops of Operation Delta Safe had intensified the fight against crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering in the zone with significant successes.
According to him, the Nigerian Navy Ship, Delta Patrol team, located a dugout pit with about 1,257.96 barrels of product suspected to be stolen crude oil at Ogbodede creek in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
“The team discovered an oven laden with about 18.86 barrels of crude and 5,000 liters of illegally refined AGO. The dugout pit and oven with the products were dismantled”, he said.
“Similarly, Forward Operating Base Bonny patrol team discovered an illegal refining site in Ataba, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“The site had 2 metal storage tanks laden with about 301.91 barrels of product suspected to be stolen crude oil and one metal tank laden with about 34,000 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO.
“Also, the team discovered 5 storage facilities made with tarpaulin inside the swamp laden with about 4,717.35 barrels of product suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“Similarly, two large wooden boats laden with about 1,069.26 barrels of product suspected to be stolen crude oil were discovered inside the creek. The storage facilities and wooden boats were dismantled”.
Troops of 222 Battalion, he said, destroyed an illegal refining site at Eniabedi in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Enenche noted that troops of 16 Brigade Garrison discovered and destroyed an illegal oil refinery containing unspecified amount of illegally refined petroleum products at Abua in Abua/Odua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
However, while the High Command of the Armed Forces, Theatre and Units Commanders, as well as frontline troops have refused to bask in the euphoria of the serial victories against these enemies of state across theatre of operations so as to consolidate these gains, some unpatriotic elements are casting aspersion on the efforts of the military and other security agencies.
It is in contrast with the following reckless comments against the patriotic sacrifices of officers and men of the military that some martial strategists posited that the military, especially the frontline troops, need citizens’ constant applaud and commendations rather than the unguarded utterances that lower their morale.
They further averred that troops and the hierarchy of the military deserve gratitude from citizens for their selfless sacrifices to the nation instead of the ongoing media campaign of calumny being sponsored by some disgruntled elements in the society.
Therefore, we should learn to appreciate and praise the gallant and resilient effort of our troops so that they would be spurred to do more.
It is, however, proper to note the conventional warfare our gallant troops are engaged in as against the enemies guerrilla warfare.
Conventional warfare is a form of warfare conducted by using conventional military weapons and battlefield tactics between two or more states in open confrontation.
In conventional warfare, the forces on each side are well-defined with troops using weapons that primarily target the opposing army whereas guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military.
Regrettably, these violent non-state actors are becoming sophisticated.
It is nonetheless, on the premise of the foregoing that the hierarchy of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is not leaving any stone unturned in its effort to halt insecurity in the country.
In doing so, the nation’s military has adopted multiple approaches such as kinetic and non-kinetic tactics to permanently deny these non-state actors freedom of action.
Though some Nigerians have criticized the non-kinetic initiative of the state, christened Operation Safe Corridor, the initiative is yielding tremendous results as it is contributing in no small measure in breaking the ranks of terrorists.
This is in addition to the uncelebrated successes of its kinetic approaches across all theatres of operation.
* Abdullahi is a military affairs analyst.