By Our Reporter
When President Muhammadu Buhari, declared in 2015, that members of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram, who want to carve out an’’ Islamic Caliphate’’ in the north eastern state of Borno, will soon know ‘’the strength of the country’s collective will and commitment to rid the nation of terror and bring back peace’’. Not many people took him serious, despite his military background.
They have every reason to accept his promise with a pinch of salt in his first term of office as President and Commander –In-Chef , C-In-C of the Nigerian Armed Forces,. Instead of crushing the Boko Haram Insurgents, in six months as promised, more deadly terrorist groups which were operating under ground during former President Goodluck’s Administration emerged between 2016 and now, causing havoc in different parts of the country.
One of such groups is the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, a breakaway faction of BokoHaram in 2016.The ISWAP Group, appear to have become significantly stronger than BokoHaram as it continues to expand its area of activity in the north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and the Lake Chad region, thus forcing the Nigerian Army, under the close watch of Lt.Gen. Farouk Yahaya, and Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNTF, set up by the West African countries of Nigeria, Tchad, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroun, with additional military support from Benin Republic.
The Nigeria Army and MNJTF, may have got it right over the last three and half years. The mass defections of Operatives of the ISWAP group, as well as the counter-terrorism efforts by the Nigerian government and the Economic of West African States, ECOWAS, established MNJTF, commanded by Lucky Irabor, an Army General and Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, appear to have completely clipped the wings of BokoHaram and ISWAP, Groups, making their impact in Nigeria, in the recent time less feasible. Security experts believe that the decline of BokoHaram’s activities has resulted in substantial improvements in curtailing terrorist activities in the two north easten states of Borno and Yobe.
Another terrorsist Group, that was said to have emerged during the over seven years of the Katsina state born Nigerian President’s Administration were the Bandits Group, operating in the north western states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Katsina, Buhar home state, including Niger, the home state of a former military President, retired General Ibrahim Babangida , in north central Nigeria.
Notwithstanding the emergence of the various terrorist Groups , the Nigerian President and C-In-C, of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and the service Chiefs were still determined to checkmate the activities of the Criminal elements in the different parts of the country.
Indeed, the recent arrest of the mastermind of the March 28, 2022, attack on the Abuja-Kaduna scheduled Passenger train at Damba Community in Chikun Local government Area of Kaduna state, which had been under the siege of the Bandits over the last seven years by troops of Operation Whirl Punch, bear eloquent testimony to the fact that the groups are losing the battle .
Musa Danmadami, an Army, Major General and Director , Defence Media Operations, could beat his chest that the military activities and operational successes being recorded in different parts of the country, has sent in the recent a message to BokoHaram Insurgents, IWAP and the Bandits Group, including the Indienous Poples ofBiafra, IPOD, that the game is up. The Defence spokesperson, had attributed the military success in the counter-terrorism war, to the use of both kinetic and non-kinetic operation methods.
Note that in Kaduna and other flash point north western states, the Operation Whirl Punch troops were put on the red alert when information filteredout that some strange movements, suspected to be members of BokoHaram and IWAP, Commanders were at Damba Community, awaiting to strike , again in Kaduna state.
The Operation Whirl Punch troops, may have shown that they are in total control of the state ,described as a haven for the bandits as they were said to have arrested the three BokoHaram and ISWAP, Commanders and their Bandits Collaborators, , who weresaid have come into the Damba village for an operation.
It was a sweet victory for the Nigerian troops and which after investigations and questioning of the suspects found out that one of them was the mastermind of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack. Following were said to be haven been recovered from their Damba Community hideout: two motorcycles, two mobile phones, $5,000 as well as some other foreign currencies and other sundry items.
Recall that on February 20, 2023, two days to the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, troops of Operation Operation Whirl Punch on fighting Patrol to Gada-Oli, recovered some offensive weapons from the criminal elements.
There is no gain saying the fact that the sorry state of the insecurity situation in the country which appears to have improved over the last three years may have encouraged the Global Terrorism Index, GTI, to take another look at the Nigerian terrorism index record , which shows that it has moved ‘’to the sixth position , moving two steps from its, eighth place in 2022, an indications that the country’s insecurity challenges over the last seven years have improved tremendously.
Tukur Buratai, a retired Army Lt.Gen.and former Chief of Army Staff, who had handed over the baton to Lt. Gen. Yahaya, was said to have set the stage for Lt. Gen. Yahaya, the present CoAS, to succeed in turning the table against the north eastern geopolitical region insurgents by winning the hearts and minds of the people during his time, thus blocking the Insurgents source of getting information on troops movement in the state.
The current Army Chief may have cashed in on the good working relationship between the military and civilian population to improve on it, thus clipping the wings of the insurgents, the bandits and other Criminal gangs, across the country, which is evident with the successful conduct of the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Many had expected the elections to be disrupted in the flash point states of Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger, particular, but that was not to be as the battle-ready troops were in firm control of the states ready to crush any intruder.
The Insurgents and Bandits Group fighters may have known that any attempt to dare the Nigeria Army during the election period would be a fruitless effort that they were forced to go underground to allow the process go on undisturbed.
Although, there may have been pockets of disturbances in in some parts of Borno state and the Shiroro Local government Area of Niger state during the elections but it was said to have been quickly put under control by the agile soldiers, as both the BokoHaram, IWAP and the Bandits were forced to take to their heels.
Going by the GTI report, which is published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace, IEP, which provides a comprehensive summary of the global trends and patterns in terrorism activities since 2000,, it has confirmed that there have been a continuous decline in the number of deaths from terrorism attacks in Nigeria in the last three years.