Taoreed Lagbaja, an Army Major General and immediate past General Officer Commanding, GOC, 1 Division, Kaduna, who was said to have dealt ruthlessly with the Bandits Group fighters in the north western state and now Chief of Army Staff, CoAS, appears to have sent a message to the Islamic Fundamentalist Group , BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, terrorising residents of the north eastern states of Borno , Yobe and ambushing soldiers that it is no longer going to be business as usual.
The two north eastern states of Borno and Yobe based insurgents with their alleged collaborators from the neighbouring West African countries Chad, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and the Central African country of Cameroon, including terrorists from, other countries in the Sahel region may have read the handwriting on the wall that the game is up to lie low .
This is evident going by the relative peace that appears to have been restored along the Damaturu-Maiduguri road which is a major linking road between Borno and Yobe states and which over the years was an epicentre of BokoHaram activities with many Commuters being killed or kidnapped.
The insurgents activities was said to have become worse along the Damturu-Maiduguri Expressway between 2020 and 2022. Take for instance, in December , 2020, the BokoHaram Insurgents, were said to have abducted 35 travelers along the highway while in June 2022, the insurgents also abducted travelers along the road.
The terrorists were said to have always attacked the travelers at Goni Matari village, beween Mainok and Jakana in Borno state. Note that Goni Matari village is one of the red spots on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, used by the insurgents to launch attacks.
Past CoAS, including Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who incidentally was Commander of Operation Hadi Kai, OPHK, and now Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, were said to have made several efforts to contain the activities of the insurgents operating on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road but that was how far they could go.
Residents of Damaturu, the Yobe state Capital, could speak out on the return of peace which was boosting the economy of the state on Saturday, July 1, 2023, at a luncheon with Maj. Gen. Lagbaja, the CoAS. Many believe believe that the relative peace that have returned to the Damaturu-Maiduguri road was not unconnected to the fact that Major Gen. Mayirenso Lander Saraso, the Commander of Sector 2, OPHK, in Damaturu, Hhas sustained the onslaught against the insurgents from where Major Gen. Koko Isoni, his predecessor had stopped.
The relative peace that has returned to the notorious Damaturu-Maiduguri road, may have informed why the no nonsense new CoAS, in appreciation and to boost the morale of the troops had hosted the troops for Launch in Damaturu, the Yobe state Capital. The CoAS, who was said to have been represented by the OPHK, Sector 2, Commander, Major Gen. Saraso, was said to have urged the troops not ‘’to relent in their efforts to restore total peace in the state’’.
Many believe that Major Gen. Sraso, could easily restore relative peace along the Damaturu –Maiduguri road between February and now , with the support and Cooperation of the officers of the Command , who had earlier had been called upon by Major Gen. Isoni, the for sector 2 Commander outgone Commander, ‘’ to give more support to his Successor, ‘’to enable him to carry out his assignment without hitches in the front lines of the Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region’’ .
The support and cooperation of the troops may informed why Major Saraso, had pledged ‘’ to consolidate on the gains made by his predecessor in the areas of operations and infrastructural development’’. Recall that the Damaturu-Maiduri highway has been temporarily closed several times to enable the combined operations of the OPHK air and ground troops to conduct clearance operation the area of the insurgents in order to make it safe for travelers.
In a related development towards ensuring administrative and operational efficiency, the acting CoAS, has approved the appointment and redeployment of some Major Generals and Brigadier Generals and other senior officers across the Nigerian Army formations and Units in the country.
Onyema Nwachukwu, a Brigadier General and Director, Army Public Relations, had said that that there was nothing to worry about the redeployment of the senior officers describing it as routine exercise following the retirement of some of the senior officers as a result of the appointment of the new Army Leadership last June by President Ahmed Tinubu.
The redeployment of the senior officers which are expected to take effect from July 3, 2023, had seen Major Gen. Isoni, a former Commander of OPHK, Sector 2, moved to be the new Commander of Army Headquarters Garrison Command while Maj Gen. A.E. Abubakar, was said to have been redeployed from the Army Headquarters, 7 Division /Sector 1 ,OPHK, to Headquarters 3 Division , Nigeria Army as GOC and Commander Operation Safe Haven.
He may not have redeployed Major Generals. Ibrahim Sambo Ali, Theatre Commander of OPHK, who was said to have taken over from Major Gen. Christopher Musa, and now Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, by the former Lagos state governor to replace Lucky Irabor, Lt. Gen. rtd and Saroso, OPHK, Sector 2, Commander who were said to have been appointed to their present Command positions by Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, the immediate past CoAS to sustain the tempo of operations in Borno and Yobe states.
Recall that Major Musa who has taken over from Lt.Gen. Irrabor, rtd, as the CDS, had led the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the Sambisa forest and Lake Chad region for 18 months in Borno , Adamawa and Yobe states, and made a mockery of the insurgents as the troops in the front lines were better equipped to deal with the terrorists in restoring peace in the insurgence affected three states in the northeastern region.
Major Musa was said to have repeatedly made it clear as the then Commander of OPHK, that ‘’restoration of peace and protection of lives and property could only be achieved in the region by dealing decisively with ‘’the remnants of BokoHaram and ISWAP, insurgents in the Sambisa forest and the Lake had region, of Borno state.
Security analysts believe that with the Combination of Major Generals Musa, as the CDS, and who was formerly the Commander of OPHK, Ali, who knows much of the difficult terrains of the Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region, Saraso, and Abubakar, the counter-terrorist operations in Borno, Yobe and the north western state of Zamfara state, particular, is as good as having been won.
In spite of the fact that Major Gen. Lagbaja, the new CoAS, appointed new GOCs and Commanders are yet to fully assume their new positions, the situation in the north western state of Zamfara, for the Bandits have not been funny.
Early last June, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji who had conducted ambush operation to the Bandits hideout at Kairu/Kyaram villages in Bukkuyum, and Bakura, Marl,Shuni, Wasagu, Shinkafi and Gusau Local Government Areas, in the north western state were said to have rescued 20 kidnapped victims while on their routine patrol in the general area. The rescued victims comprised two females including a housewife who was said to have been abducted a week after her weeding.
Some of the victims were said to have spent 20 to 53 days in the hands of the Bandits in the forest. They were said to have been reportedly released from the camp of one Bello Turji, a notorious Bandits Kingpin in the area as his fighters could no longer stand the air bombardment and the superior fire power from ground troops of the Operation Hadarin Daji.
Other victims disclosed that their voluntary release by the Bandits Kingpin, Turji was a result of the reconciliation with a team of personalities suspected to be government officials from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The victims may have shocked Nigerians when they revealed that there are over 20 Bandits camps in the forest they were kept. Informed security sources told The Value News that the Operation Hadarin Daji troops while conducting clearance operations on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at the fringes of Gando forest under Gwashi district of Bukkuyum Local government Area, which had had remained a red spot in Zamfara state, had killed one Dogo Gudali , a notorious Bandit Leader and several members of his gang.
The Bandits Leader was said to have been killed alongside some of his fighters due to explosion from an Improvised Explosive Device , IED, intended for troops but detonated prematurely. Residents of Bukkuyum town, Headquarters of Bukkuyum Local Government Area has confirmed that Gudali and his gang have been terrorising communities in Bukkuyum, Anka and Gummi Local Government Areas of Zamfara state and some parts of Sokoto and Kebbi over the last eight years of the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.
Nigerians are looking up to Tinubu, who has vowed to tackle the security challenges of the country orchestrated by BkoHaram, ISWAP, Killer Herdsmen, kidnappers and Bandits Group ,including other terrorists Groups wearing the toga of separatism across the country headlong to bring the situation under control.`
True to his promise to tackle the country ‘s security challenges healong may have informed why the Nigerian President has rallied the security and intelligence agencies, taken charge, as the Commander -In-Chief of the Armed Forces, and lead the reforms that would totally overhaul the country’s distorted and dysfunctional security architecture.
The Institute for Economics and Peace –run Global Terrorism Index in March 2023, was said to have rated Nigeria, the most populous African country, as the eighth most terrorized country in the world , next to the failed states like Somalia and the Asian country of Afghanistan. This is because the country is home to three of the five deadliest terrorist Organisations in the world: BokoHaram, ISWAP and Killer Herdsmen. The Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, founded by Nnamdi Kanu, now in Department of State Services, DSS, custody, has recently been ranked as the tenth most deadly terrorist Group in the world. Many believe that Tinubu will not fail Nigerians in addressing the over two decades of terrorism in Nigeria whch past Administrations of former Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari had tried to solve but worsened matters.