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.
. 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.
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.
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.
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.