As many will agree, where there’s a will, there’s a way – this seems to be the case with the Nigerian military in the fight against the nefarious Boko Haram terrorists in recent times.
Before now, the fundamentalists had unleashed unimaginable terror on the hapless inhabitants of Nigeria’s North East – drastically dwindling the population of the region while rendering others internally displaced persons in refugee camps.
Many had lamented the military’s lack of will which had seen the terrorists operate almost unimpeded – to the extent that they conquered some towns and went ahead to rename a couple.
Appallingly, barely a week after Boko Haram captured and renamed Mubi town in Adamawa state to “Madinatul Islam” (meaning City of Islam), the sect reportedly also renamed Borno’s Gwoza town “Darul Hikma” (meaning House of Wisdom).
The African Union (AU) had on Thursday (January 29) endorsed a West African plan to set up a regional task force of 7,500-strong multinational force to fight the Islamic insurgents, a senior official said.
The four nations of the Lake Chad Basin (the sect’s stronghold) – Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – agreed to join forces with a contingent from Benin Republic (which borders Nigeria to the west). But disagreements surfaced over how to deploy the troops and as a result, a cohesive fighting force has failed to materialize.
Military bombardment of the militants’ camps across the border towns has gone ahead nonetheless and so far is yielding fruits as the Nigerian military, with Cameroon and Chad lending a hand, are reclaiming territories lost to Boko Haram.
Monday, February 16: Military flushes out insurgents from Munguno, Marte and neighbouring communities in Borno state.
Troops fighting the insurgent group, Boko Haram, have reclaimed the town of Monguno and other communities in the North East after two days of fighting.
The takeover of Monguno and other communities brought Boko Haram closer to Maiduguri with the Army successfully repelling the insurgents’ attempts to get into Maiduguri, the state capital.
Reports on Saturday (February 14) revealed how security forces launched a huge military campaign to retake a swath of territory in the North East seized by the terror group. And on Monday (February 16), the Nigerian Defence Headquarters said in a tweet: “Operations to Clear Terrorists From #MONGUNO and Other Communities Successful”.
Confirming the development, spokesperson of the DHQ, Major-General Chris Olukolade, in a statement said: “Troops in a military operation spearheaded by highly coordinated air assaults have completed the mission of clearing terrorists from Monguno and environs this morning”.
He added that a number of terrorists as well as truckloads of rice, beans and other logistics meant for resupply to the terrorists operating around Baga have been captured in the course of the operation. According to him, troops seized five types of armoured fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun, 50 cases of bombs, eight different types of machine guns, some 50 cases of ammunition and 300 motorcycles the rebels use to launch attacks.
Speaking further, Olukolade said that the air and land operation is continuing in the area of operation with aggressive advance towards other designated communities and locations meant to be cleared in the ongoing offensive against the terrorists.
Meanwhile, presidents from the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) pledged on Monday to create an emergency fund of 50 billion CFA francs (N17.34 billion) to the fight.
Wednesday, February 18: Military recaptures 11 towns, kill 300 insurgents
Nigerian forces have killed more than 300 Boko Haram fighters during an operation to recapture 11 towns and villages since the start of the week, the military said on Wednesday, as regional neighbours also pounded the militants.
According to defense spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade in a statement: “Weapons and equipment were also captured and some destroyed”…However, two soldiers lost their lives while 10 others were wounded”.
Meanwhile, Cameroonian forces supported by Chad’s air force carried out air strikes and used heavy artillery against Boko Haram in the village of Gourgouroon, on the Nigeria-Cameroon border, Cameroon army spokesman, Colonel Didier Badjeck said.
Thursday, February 19: Nigerian planes bomb Boko Haram training camps
Nigerian warplanes bombed training camps and equipment belonging to fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram in Sambisa forest, Borno state on Thursday(February 19), the military has said; further adding momentum to an assault meant to crush the rebels before the March 28 presidential election.
Defense spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade confirmed this, saying: “The death of a large number of terrorists has been recorded while many others are also scampering all over the forest”. He later added that an attack was underway on parts of Gwoza, the town where Boko Haram first declared an Islamic state late last year.
– MICHAEL NWOKIKE