How Brigadier General Zirkusu, And Three Others Were Killed In An ISWAP Ambush In Borno State

By Suleiman Umaru

Between January and October 2021, no fewer than 3,000, Boko Haram fighters, were said to have surrendered to the Operation Hadin Kai, OPHK, prosecuting the insurgency war in Borno, state, in the North Eastern geopolitical region.

 The mass surrender of the BokoHaram fighters had been celebrated in military circles, giving the military High Command, the impression that insurgency will soon be a thing of the past in the region.  But Nigerians have cried out that the mass surrenderby the BokoHaram fighters was a ploy for the hardliners in terrorist Group and ISWAP, a splinter Group, from the late Abubakar Sheka, led Group, in 2015, enough time to regroup and restrategise on how to Launch attacks on Nigerian military bases and cart away their catches of arms to prove that that they are still in the war in Borno state.

Indeed, the worries of many was that there was no difference between BokoHaram or the ISWAP fighters but just a mere change nomenclature. There is no gain saying the fact that the death, Shekau, the Founder of BokoHaram, in the hands of the ISWAP fighters at the SAMBISA Forest, and Abu Baranawi, the Leader of ISWAP, which many believe was killed by the Sheaku Loyalists, in retaliation over the death of their Leader, though the OPHK, soldiers had claimed responsibility for the death of the ISWAP Leader. The death of the two key actors in the insurgency war in the north eastern part of the country appear to have brought the two terrorist Groups closer to attack the Nigerian military bases.  

True to people’s fear, the ISWAP and BokoHaram, fighters were said to have been working closely together, in the recent time. This is evident with the ISWAP, fighters attack on Bulgama Community,  along  Askira town, headquarters of Askira- Uba Local Government Area of Borno state, on Saturday, November 13, 2021.

Suspected ISWAP Fighters Who Laid Ambush On Late Brig.General Zirkusu Special Trained Officers’ Team

The ISWAP,fighters may have fully prepared to take over full control of the Local Government Area,  both for the quick intervention and reinforcement  of the Nigerian Special Forces Team, led by   Dzarma Zirkusu, a Brigadier General.    However, it was a sorry situation as the Brigadier General and three of the special trained officers of various ranks, fell into the waiting hands of the ISWAP, fighters,who were said to have laid an ambush  for them.  Onyema Nwachuchukwu, a Brigadier General and army spokesperson confirmed that they were killed by the ISWAP fighters who had laid the ambush for them.

 The terrorist Group may have succeeded in killing Brigadier General Zirkusu and the three other officers, who were said to have provided reinforcement in a counter offensive to forestall the terrorists from taking over Askira town, where there is a military base, because information may have filtered out about their coming to strengthen the OPHK counter insurgency attack in the area which may have given them room to prepared and lay ambush for them. It is certain that if the Special Force Team had succeeded in getting to Askira town as town, the ISWAP fighters would have been counting of theirloses in hundreds.  

Eyewitness account  had confirmed that the ISWAP fighters had attacked Askira town, with at least 12 gun trucks and alpha Jets,  burning houses and shops including a school, forcing residents to flee to avoid being caught in the cross fire.  In the fierce counter attack by the air Component of OPHK, despite the killing the Commander of the Special Force  trained officers  were said to have destroyed  five Alpha Jets, two A-29, two Dragon Combat vehicles and nine gun trucks belonging to the ISWAP terrorist Group, and killed several of them, forcing the few that had had survived the battle to flee.

An aggrieved President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General had said that the Brigadier General and the three other special trained officers, killed in an ISWAP ambush ‘’had paid the price for the insurgency war’’, in Borno state, north east Nigeria. Garba Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the Katsina state born Nigerian President may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President when he said the loss of the army Brigadier General and the three other special trained officers  has left ‘’the nation  and ‘’the Nigerian Army  in a sad state especially as  the country  battles terrorism.:

Special Trained Forces: Killed By ISWAP Fighters In An Ambush

 Babagana Zulum, a Professor and governor of Borno state, may have opened up that without ‘’the strong defense put up by the Nigerian military against the terrorists in Askira town, it would have been a different story’’, meaning that Askira,  Askira –Uba  Local government Headquarters would have been taken over by the terrorists which would have worsened the insecurity situation in the state. He was said to have singled out the Special Force Team Commander, late Brigadier General Zirkusu, who had mobilised ‘’to provide reinforcements during the attack to ensure that the Local Government Area, did not fall into the waiting hands of the terrorists for appreciation.

The death of  Brig. Gen. Zirkusu in the hands of the ISWAP fighters during the attack on Askira town, may have  informed why Faruk Yahaya, a Lt General and Chief of Army Staff, CoAS, has directed the OPHK   troops ‘’to continue the ferocious counteroffensive  and hot pursuit  to eliminate  the remnant of the fleeing terrorists’’.

Lt.Gen. yahay: CoAS

Prior to the ISWAP fighters attack on the Askira town military base, the late Abu Al-Barnawi, led terrorist Group,had attacked a military base in Tamsukawu, a village in Kaga, Local government Area on Monday, November 8, 2021. Recall that the indigenes of the village fled t in the aftermath of the continuous terrorists attacks but were resettled by the Zulum government in 2018. 

 Those who are conversant with the map of Kaga Local Government Area had said that the Community said  it is located along  the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway, and about 80 KMs  from Maiduguri, the Borno state Capital.  Informed security sources told The Value News that the attack on the Tansukawu Community was the second in less one week.

Many believe that the ISWAP terrorists Group may have intensified their attack on military bases in Borno state in the recent time with the appointment of new set of Commanders under the purported directive of their Foreign Collaborators at the ISIS Headquarters in Iraq.

 The new ISWAP Commanders, may have been given a mandate ‘’to midwife the logistics support for its special missions in Baga, Marte and Malamfatori in Abadam.  Note that Prof. Zulum, the Borno state governor, was recently attacked in Malanfatori axis, within the Lake Chad region, during a routine inspection of rehabilitation centres aimed at resettling the indigenes of the Area by November 27, 2021.  With the ISWAP fighters attack on Askira town, they may have sent a message to the Borno government and the military Authorities that Borno remain a hotbed of insurgency in the north east for normal life to return in the state.

Last January, the OPHK, troops, had battled to regain control of its military base at Marte after an intense fighting with the ISWA fighters. Also, in April, the ISIS aligned ISWAP fighters had ambushed and attacked the convoy escorting weapons to a military base with rocket –propelled grenades in Minok town before storming the military base in the area. The ISWAP fighters were said to have stormed the town with several gun trucks, including four Mine Resistant Ambush protected, MRAPs, and vehicles. The attack was said to have left 36 people including soldiers killed while over two million people were displaced from their homes.

 In spite of the fact that ISWAP fighters in the recent time have continued to attack military bases in different parts of Borno state, the OPHK, troops had remained undaunted in their counter offensive as they have continued to inflict heavy casualties on the terrorists and destruction of their weapons of war.   

Lt.Gen. Buratai, rtd: Wants The Military To Sustain The Efforts In Training Special Forces

  Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a retired Lt. General and former CoAS, and now Nigerian Ambassador to the neighboring West African country of Benin, would want the military ‘’to sustain the efforts in Training Special Forces’’, noting that it is the only way  ‘’to stamp out insurgency and banditry in the country’’.

He had said that  ‘’the need to train and prepare  the future ;Leaders  of the Nigerian Army  to take  certain decisions  as they increasingly  carry out   complex  missions in a considerably broader sphere of influence is very crucial’’. The retired army General may have spoken his mind   at the annual Leadership Lecture series held at the Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji Kaduna state recently.

Beyond training,he  had stressed that military requires functional weapons and resource s to remain relevant in prosecuting the counter insurgency war . He noted that the military optimal performance still depends largely on ‘’the style of Leadership at the: Local government, state and Federal Levels. He may have alluded to the fact that ‘’the contemporary security environment the world-over is ‘’volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous’’, stating that’’ the current operating environment in Nigeria is not different’’ from it’’

Giving his experience as a former CoA, who have had the Opportunity of leading the Multinational Joint task force, MNJTF, against the Insurgents, the former CoAS, had made it clear to all those that cares to listen that’’ the military alone cannot ‘’solve the ongoing insurgency ravaging the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe , alone, since they did not start it in the first place’’, meaning that all hands must be deck , to end the crisis in the region.

He may have shocked Nigerians when he said that what had fueled the insurgency in Borno and other parts of the north east geopolitical region was underdevelopment. As a one-time guest Lecturer at the Convocation Lecture of Moddibo Adama University, in Adamawa state, he had declared that ‘’any country that does not ensure the development of its people would continue to face security challenges’’, urging the Nigerian government not ‘’ to rely on the military option to solve the nation’s security challenges’’ but address ‘’the ideological, economic, social and political factors’’.

He had said that his Diplomatic foray in Benin  has exposed him to the fact that’’ there is  urgent need  for both ‘’military and non-military solution to the lingering  and endless conflict in the country’’, noting that  ‘’the current situation in the country  required ‘’synergy, political will, sacrifice,  and commitment of government, civil society,  traditional rulers and  all other stakeholders  to curtail the sporadic attacks in the north east states of Borno and Yobe, particular, in order to bring the conflict to a permanent conclusion’’.

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