Where there’s a will, there’s a way – this seems to be the case with the Nigerian military in their 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 (IDPs) 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, together 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 in the past….
Saturday, February 21, 2015: Military retake Baga, insurgents drown as they try to escape
Nigerian forces backed by air strikes seized the north-eastern border town of Baga from Islamist group, Boko Haram, the military said on Saturday, February 21, 2015.
Re-taking the town – at Nigeria’s border with Chad, Niger and Cameroon – was one of many in recent weeks, and particularly important as Baga was the headquarters of a multinational troops from all four countries. The militants had claimed a January 3 attack that killed scores, possibly hundreds, putting the jihadists in control.
Defense Spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said: “We have secured Baga. We are now in full control. There are only mopping up exercises left to do. Not even the strategy of mining over 1,500 spots with land mines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops,” Olukolade had said in a statement earlier in the day.
In a statement minutes earlier Olukolade had said, “A large number of terrorists had drowned in Lake Chad” as troops advanced on Baga.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015: Soldiers capture terrorists disguised as women
As part of the ongoing operation to liquidate the terrorists, soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east have captured some militants trying to escape disguised as women in Baga, Borno state.
The capture of the jihadists clad in women’s clothes took place in the recaptured town of Baga, the site of a massacre in January in which over 2,000 people lost their lives according to local officials – the biggest mass killing since the group began its now six-year uprising.
Defense spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said: “The search in Baga has revealed some terrorists disguised as women”.
He added: “The searches are also yielding more discoveries of arms, especially bombs, hidden in various locations. Apart from those captured in the course of fighting, many terrorists hiding in the town are being arrested and troops are still busy interrogating the suspects.”
Wednesday, February 25, 2015: Regional force against insurgents takes shape
Military chiefs from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger are finalising their strategy for a 8,750-strong regional force to tackle the notorious militant sect, Boko Haram.
In the last few weeks, the Multinational Joint Task Force had retaken several towns captured by the militants in Nigeria’s north-east.
Now, the regional chiefs are preparing for a major ground and air offensive due to start in March – and are meeting in Chad this week to set out the command structure. The force will be led by a Nigerian commander, after which the position will rotate among the members.
The force will be made up of Nigerian troops (3,500); Chadian troops (3,500); 750 troops from Cameroon; Nigerien troops (750) and 250 from Benin Republic.