Relative Peace Returns To Yobe State;  Army Redeploys Some Senior Officers  

 Suleiman Umaru

 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’’.  

Maj.Gen. Lagbaja: Acting CoAS

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.

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