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The Lake Chad terror and the imperative of synergising to defeat Boko Haram

Boko Haram The attack came at about 6pm on Sunday evening. The attack at Metele village in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno state, was well planned.
There are at least, four strategic Military locations around the Lake Chad region of which the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, is one of them.
There used to be joint border patrols among the four nations bordering the Lake Chad Region, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad itself. The importance of these countries to the fight against terror must again, be emphasised.
The nature of access to the Nigerian space from the bordering nations is integral to our quest for internal security.
A weak and or porous border, endangers the country, more so as the Boko Haram terrorists are well entrenched in the countries that border the Lake Chad basin.
It is however unfortunate that the hitherto vibrant border patrols along the Chad basin, specifically with both the Chad Republic and the Cameroon, have suffered neglect due to the internal strifes happening in both countries…
As a result of these internal issues in our neighboring countries, their borders have become porous lately, leading to the determined effort of the highly degraded but very desperate Boko Haram terrorist group to strike at our soft underbellies along the vulnerable borders.
Incidentally, the Metele Army post is situated right across the strip that lies on the path of the Chad border. The killing of over 20 of our gallant troops and officers sparked a considerable outrage all around the country, which is to be expected.
Our troops have also responded quickly enough by going after the Boko Haram Terrorists, neutralising an equally considerable number of them and recovering many of the weapons stolen from the Army.
The  Nigerian Army have also made quite some arrests of Wanted kingpins of the Boko Haram terrorists in their latest efforts.
The Nigerian Army spokesperson, Brig Gen Sani Usman, has confirmed a series of counter-attacks which he said has started to yield heart-warming results.
Many of the terrorist were gunned down on  following their encounter with the special counter force at Forfor village in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State, shortly after the Metele episode.
The Army troops in conjunction with some members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, embarked on the patrol following a report on the presence of suspected Boko Haram terrorists in a hideout. During the encounter at Forfor Village many of the suspected insurgents were also arrested, while various weapons were recovered from them.
Also from the Keynote Address delivered By Lt Gen T Y Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) , at the  Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference, held in Borno State,  the Army chief was emphatic on the way to go, going forward — That the Army is now going to shift gear from their current defensive footing and will now take the battle to the terrorists…..!
Again, the Army Chief laid emphasis on strengthening more, the joint operations along our borders with the countries bordering the Lake Chad Region.
It is very much a fact that currently the ongoing arrangement along the Nigeria-Chad and Nigeria-Cameroon borders, are in serious need of overhauling and fortification with armies of our country and the other countries working more, collaborating more and sharing of intelligence, more also,
President Buhari has visited these bordering countries around the Lake Chad basin, for the same purpose, namely to strengthen our joint collaboration in the fight against terror.
The third part of the address of the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Yusufu Buratai,  had to do with DICON — Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria, who lately has produced five million rounds of 7.62mm x 39 ammunition for the Nigerian Army, a great feat, which will help in no small measure, towards the fight against terror….!
These are commendable steps taken by the Nigerian Army, encapsulating the successful staging of the conference and significantly raising the hopes of all Nigerians in the resolve of the Army in bringing to a final closure the war against terror in the coming year.
In truth, the Nigerian Army has decimated Boko Haram in the sense that they no longer control space, take over villages nor control local governments, only employing guerilla tactics of hit and run.
They have been flushed out of villages, spaces and local governments, where thousands of people have been liberated. A large number of IDPs have even gone back home. One can now go to Monguno from Maiduguri without fear or molestation. That was not the case a few years back.
But the recent Metele attack seemingly has rattled the country into believing that the terrorists are still strong. No, they are not. Metele that shares borders with the Lake Chad, is a safe haven for these terrorists which they use to launch attacks on our security forces. Period!
Unfortunately, many are calling for the sack of the  Service Chiefs over this Metele affair, it will only amount to sheer blackmail.
The Service Chiefs have done very well to deserve a pat on the back on the war against insurgency. Those of us who remember that Boko Haram used to occupy 14 local governments across 3 state in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, know where we were before now and we know there is tremendous improvement.
We may not have seen the end of Terror, but that notwithstanding, there is tremendous improvement in the sense that the 14 local governments captured have been liberated by these same service Chiefs… Especially the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Yusufu Buratai.
If we all can recall, before the coming of this administration in 2015, these terrorists were coming to as far as Abuja to carry out attacks but now they don’t have the capacity to do so.
There was a time they were even arrested in Lagos and Kano had become their second home; all these things have become history. Maiduguri was under siege but, now, if you go to Maiduguri, you experience certain security that was for long, only a mirage. Some places in Maiduguri were under lock down but the insurgents have been chased out and they are now operating within the fringes of the Lake Chad, from other countries where our military do not have the powers to operate.
Unfortunately, insurgencies, terror and strifes of these nature have become safely international without borders throughout the world!
Also, unfortunately terror and insurgencies have morphed into something that just don’t become eradicated in weeks, let alone months… It now takes years.
It will take time to eradicate Boko Haram especially against the backdrop that they now have affiliation to the Islamic State, ISIS, which supplies their logistics, finance and other needs from Syria and Iraq.
And because of the porous nature of our borders, they also procure arms from Libya now… Arms and ammunitions are sold on the streets of Libya, just like the way  other articles are sold.
Again, the only country between us and Libya is Niger Republic, a country of mostly uncharted desert, making it difficult for the Nigeriene government to find it easy to administer the strict cross country and cross border checks and controls. The terrorists therefore have found the freedom to import all these weapons from Libya through Sahara Desert into Nigeria.
Also the fact that Chad, because of internal security challenges, are not contributing enough to the multinational joint taskforce charged with the responsibility of policing the borders between Nigeria and Chad and that has now created a safe haven for Boko Haram insurgents within the fringes of the Lake Chad. They attack Nigerian forces from time to time, leading to heavy casualties like the one that was witnessed in Metele
There is now a Real need for the Lake Chad Basin Commission member-countries to work closely, purposefully, to defeat Boko Haram. There is also the need for international support; just like the US, EU, Russia came together to decimate ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
There is the need also to increase funding for security within our budgetary and extra-budgeyary allocations. The National Assembly must make more money available to fight all insurgencies and Terror!
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, did well during his recent trip to Maiduguri to visit the wounded soldiers. Our soldiers, with the latest attacks , are still in high spirit to fight Boko Haram.
Their morale is still high, they are professionals and very well trained and they trust their Commanders and more importantly their COAS,  who often leads from the front.
The President addressed the troops and he also visited injured soldiers in the hospitals — That is exactly the kind of gesture that helps to keep the morale very high, whenever there is a setback!
We must in conclusion salute our military Chiefs and our gallant troops for their immeasurable sacrifices to Dear motherland.
They are in such a situation that demands our utmost respect and support, always…!
To keep the Nigerian flag flying until every inch of our territory is freed from insurgents, is the heavy task placed on their shoulders, and  by the Special Grace of The Almighty, this war on Terror and Insurgency, shall be won in the nearest future.
Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi, a security analyst and a counter terrorist expert is the Convener of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Terrorism in Nigeria, contributed this article from Lagos, Nigeria.

The post The Lake Chad terror and the imperative of synergising to defeat Boko Haram appeared first on Tribune Online.

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