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Insurgency: The Battle For Control Of Marte Local Government Area Of Borno State

By Suleiman Umaru

Barely one month after President Muhammadu  Buhari  bowed to public pressure to appoint new service  Chiefs to oversee the country’s security architecture which had been  at its lowest ebb with the frequent  attack  in Communities in the north eastern states, particular, Borno and Yobe, by the BkoHaran and the Islamic State Of West African Province, ISWAP, Insurgents, in the recent time, the insurgents  which appear determined to take over control of Marte town which is  about 96 Km or 60 Miles , northeast of Maiduguri , the state Capital, have    relented in  their efforts.  

Note that with the appointment of Lucky Irabor and Ibrahim  Attahiru, both Major Generals, as Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, and Chief of Army Staff, CAS, respectively,  Isiaka Oladayo Amao, an Air Vice Marshall, AVM, and Chief of  Air Staff, CAS, and Awwal Zubairu Gambo, a Rear Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff, many have expected  them  to  give Nigerians hope of speedy restoration of normalcy in the war –thorn  north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

But from all indications, it appears there may not be any much difference in the handling of the Insurgency war in the region by the current service Chiefs, described as the chip of the old block and the previous ones.   Recall that the duo, Major Generals Irabor and Attahiru, who incidentally are the current CDS and CAS, respectively, had  Commanded the Operation Lafiya Dole, overseeing the anti-Insurgency war , in the region, with Headquarters in Maiduguri, Capital of Borno state at different times under Tukur Buratai, a retired Lt.General and former CAS,  and now a Non –Career Ambassador designate,  awaiting the Senate Confirmation. He was appointed  alongside the other retired service Chiefs by the Katsina state born Nigerian Presidnt.

ISWAPA: :ttacked And Occupied A Nigerian Military Base In Marte Local Government Area Of Borno State, January 15 , 2021

. It is on record that  Irabor, the CDS, while as the Theatre Headquarters  Commander , had difficulty in dislodging the ISWAP Insurgents  from Marte Town on  January 15, 2021. The ISWAP, Insurgents, which had  entrenched itself  in the Lake Chad area, described as a strategic border  region  on the borders of the West African countries of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon, had repeatedly attacked Marte Town with the intension to  control it and make it its Operational Headquarters.

 The ISWAP Insurgents had attacked the Marte town  January 15, 2021, but the Nigerian Army were said to have  recovered  the town from the Insurgents  on January 16, 2021, but with heavy loses and damages . The Insurgents had  claimed to have killed  seven Nigerian  soldiers in the battle for control of the town.

They had also claimed  to have captured eight of the  Nigerian soldiers.  This is in addition to the carting away of many weapons, ammunition, vehicles and burnt  the base Barrack. The Nigerian soldiers may have seen the take over of their operational base in Marte town by ISWAP Insurgents, as a bad advertisement that they regrouped and went for Counter –Insurgency attack to recover the town.

  The intervention of the troops of  Operations Tura Taka Bango, in the Counter-Insurgency attack had dislodged the ISWAP  fighters from the Marte  town after  an intense battle, in Coordination  with the air Wing of Operation Lafiya Dole.  The air Force jet fighters may have succeed  in putting the Insurgents in disarray by  destroying   their militarized trucks and  killed many of them that they became handicapped and  had  to retreat.     

T he ISWAP Insurgents may not have been happy that they lost the town again , to the Nigerian soldiers that they had ploted another attack  to reclaim the town.  Those who may have escaped the air Force bombing  last January who  may have regrouped  with the weapons and ammunition stolen from the Marte  base Barrack  during the January 15, 2021, attack,   had staged  a surprise attack on the 153rd  Battalion at the Marte town.

ISWAP Insurgents Hoist Their Flag In Marte Local Government Area Of Borno State Atfter Taking Over The Area In A Surprise Attack

 The ISWAP Insurgents , may  have fully prepared for the Marte attack which caught the soldiers unawares  that  they captured  Marte  Local government area  and  thus, hoisted their flag to show that they have  established their Authority in the area .  It was short-lived.

 The 153rd Battalion,  were said to have put up a strong resistance to retain the town  than allow the town to fall Completely into the hands of  the ISWAP Insurgents that may give them another opportunity to loot the Barrack dry. The attack  on the  Marte town  was said to  have occurred   barely two months after Babagana Zulum  a Professor and governor of Borno state  had resettled  some 500  people in the new Marte town.

Nigerian Military Retake Marte , tore ISWAP Flag Hoisted In the Local Government Headquarters

Security analysts believe that but for the quick intervention   and combined Team of the Air Wing and the ground Forces of Operation Lafiya Dole, in the battle which an  eyewitness account  said had lasted  for  four hours, the Insurgents could have overrun the Marte town, in less than two months.

The 153rd Battalion may have suffered major loses as information about the  deployment of more troops to the  Marte town  from the Theatre Command Headquarters to strength  the  attack against the Insurgents. The Battalion may have suffered much casualties  as informant about the planned reinforcement  had  leaked out forcing the Insurgents to lay  an ambush  for the soldiers which resulted  in the death of  seven of the soldiers  while several others sustained  injuries and subsequently, evacuated to  the Military Hospital Maiduguri, where they are currently being treated.

 The question on the lips of most people was how  a top military  decision taken behind closed door  to send reinforcement to Marte base to  strengthen the 153rd Battalion in order    to contain the Insurgents could have leaked out to the   Insurgents , fueling speculations that they informants within the military circles.

. This is where the CDS, CAS and the Chief of Air staff  may have sit down and take another look on the  Operations  Dole and make the necessary changes and redeployments in order to kick out the suspected bad eggs, who sees the special  military assignment as an opportunity  to make pecuniary financial gains at the expense of the nation.

In spite of the fact that the ISWAP, Innsurgents had made efforts to  take over the Marte Military base, they were said to have also launched AN attack  on Dikwa, a neighbouring  local government Area area to the troubled  Marte . They were said to have been repelled by the Operation Lafiya Dole soldiers.

Major generalAttahiru:CAS

 An elated Attahiru Ibrahi,  the CAS, who had visited  the Theatre Command , the third, in one month and who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the soldiers gave a good account of themselves’’.

 Aware of the paucity  of Combat equipment in Operation Lafiya Dole  military bases   to contain the Insurgents and force them out f the three north eastern states, the CAS, had given the soldiers his word: that more Combative equipment will be  moved  to the Theatre Command  Headquarters in Maiduguri and others in various parts of the country

He may have gladdened the heart of the soldiers when he said that   there was need ‘’to encourage  and keep  fighting troops motivated’’. He may have lamasted the critics who believed  that the army  are not doing much to contain in the north west states of Zamfara and Katsina, and Insurgency in the north east to watch it.

  He had assured Nigerians that as the CAS, he  will  do everything within his capacity ‘’to surmount  the twin problems of banditry and Insurgency in the country’’.  This good news but let us hope that he will keep to his promise.Between 2009 and 2019, past CAS, had made such promises  but could not  fulfill it which had brought the country to where it is today despite the billions of naira spent to prosecute the Counter-Insurgency and Banditry wars in the two regions.       

Stephen Ubanna

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