January 15 every year is commemorated as Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
As the milestone is marked this year, it also provides ample opportunity to chronicle current landmark achievements by our military in tackling security challenges in the land, towards fulfilling the constitutional requirement of Government guaranteeing the protection of lives and property.
A checklist below:
Boko Haram is much weaker today than in 2015, as attested to by the Governor of Borno State on December 6, 2020:
“From state-wide statistics on affairs in the 27 Local Government Areas since 2011, the fact is that despite the recent happenings in Borno State, the security situation in Borno State and, indeed, that of the entire North East sub-region is still far better under Buhari, and this is based on records.
“For instance, unlike the years before Buhari when a number of local governments were no-go-areas, we now have indigenes safely back to Gwoza, Askira-Uba, Dikwa, Ngala, Monguno, Kukawa, Damboa, Konduga, Mafa and led by our traditional leaders, which no one could have visited not to talk of living there. Our Emirs were all in exile. Today, Bama is coming back to life and so is Askira-Uba, Damboa, Gwoza and others. Life is even returning to Baga. This was impossible before Buhari.
“In fact, it was not possible to move few kilometres out of Maiduguri. Insurgents were so bold to attack and take over military facilities, like the Army Barracks at Monguno, Bama, Giwa Barrack and Multinational Joint Task Force Headquarters at Baga, to mention just a few. There were daily bomb blast attacks in many parts of Maiduguri, the most populated part of the state but all these have stopped under President Buhari. These are the records and no one can dispute them.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF DEFENCE HEADQUARTERS-COORDINATED OPERATIONS, 18 MARCH TO 30 DECEMBER, 2020:
• The Armed Forces of Nigeria from 18 March to 30 December, 2020 neutralized 2,403 criminal elements (terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, etc.) across the country.
• This is in addition to scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed during air strikes.
• Troops also rescued a total of 864 kidnapped victims across the country.
• In addition, a total of 9,684,797 litres of stolen AGO and 33,516,000 litres of DPK were recovered.
• Equally, 1,910 criminal elements were arrested and large cache of arms, ammunition and equipment were recovered during the period.
• Furthermore, a total of 46,581.8 barrels of stolen crude oil and 22,881,257 litres of stolen PMS were recovered by the troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
Sectoral Breakdown of March to December 2020 Military Successes:
5,281 livestock, 6,951 rounds of ammunition and 120 assorted rifles were recovered from the armed bandits by the gallant troops in the Zone, 455 kidnapped victims were rescued and 473 armed bandits killed. 461 arrests were made in the Zone including high profile armed bandits, gun runners and bandits’ collaborators, while a total cash of N6,365,550 was recovered from armed bandits and their informants in the Zone.
200 kidnapped victims rescued by troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. A total of 1,385 rounds of ammunition, 45 grenades as well as 95 assorted rifles were recovered from BHT/ISWAP fighters. In addition, several gun trucks were captured, while some others were destroyed during air strikes. 1,805 insurgents/terrorists including commanders were killed by the troops aside scores killed by air raids/attacks. Additionally, within the period, a total of 79 arrests were made including high value targets.
Troops of Operations SAFE HAVEN, WHIRL STROKE and THUNDER STRIKE rescued a total of 130 kidnapped victims, and 105 assorted rifles as well as 513 rounds of ammunition and 1,055 rustled cattle were recovered from armed bandits and other criminal elements in the Zone. 1,250 criminals including family members of the Darul Salam sect were arrested within the period. Furthermore, troops neutralized a total of 125 armed bandits including militia gang leaders.
A total of 8,890,300 litres of stolen AGO and 33,516,00 litres of DPK were impounded by troops of Operation DELTA SAFE. Troops immobilized a total of 185 illegal refining sites, 85 dugout pits and 163 metal storage tanks within the period. Additionally, troops impounded a cumulative total of 31,236.8 barrels of stolen crude oil as well as 12,272,652 litres of stolen PMS from oil thieves in the Zone. Also, a total of 47 kidnapped victims were rescued, while 72 vandals and criminals were arrested. A total of 4,250 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled smuggled rice were impounded and 45 boats engaged in illegal activities were arrested. Troops also arrested a total of 53 pirates and 25 trucks as well as recovered 23 rifles, 65,330 rounds of ammunition and destroyed 23 sea pirate camps.
Troops of Operation AWATSE in the South-West Zone between 18 March and 30 December 2020 impounded a total of 10,458,600 litres of PMS; 15,345 barrels of stolen crude oil and 345,000 litres of stolen AGO. Additionally, troops recovered a total of 3,594 rounds of ammunition and 14 assorted rifles. Also, within the period, a total of 23 illegal refining sites were immobilized, while 15 boats and 23 trucks engaged in illegal activities were arrested. In the same vein, within the period 35 kidnapped victims were rescued, while 48 arrests were made.
NORTH-EAST SECURITY ACHIEVEMENTS, 2015-2020
Specifically, in the North East, the Armed Forces have since 2015 recorded significant achievements in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. The first actions of the Buhari Administration in that regard were:
· Revitalization of the Multi-National Joint Task Force comprising Nigeria and her neighbours;
· Relocation of the Military Command and Control Center to Maiduguri in June 2015;
· Launch of Operation Lafiya Dole in July 2015.
Since then, several towns and villages have been reclaimed from Boko Haram, thousands of hostages have been freed from terrorist enclaves, and tens of thousands of displaced persons have been resettled. Several Boko Haram leaders have been killed or arrested, and the arrest of Khalid al-Barnawi of the Ansaru splinter cell brought an end to the terrorists’ tight grip on North Central Nigeria.
The Federal Government is investing heavily in military hardware, including 23 new aircraft that have already been delivered and inducted into service, while another 18 manned aircraft and 8 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) are being awaited, in 2021/2022. This is in addition to attack boats, patrol vessels, armoured tanks and so on.
The Army established ‘Special Mobile Strike Teams’ in the Northeast, while the Air Force has established or is establishing new bases in various parts of the Northwest and North Central (Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina).
Here is a selection of significant developments that show the progress in Borno State and the Northeast:
• El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club returned to their home base in Maiduguri in April 2016, two years after relocating to Katsina State because of the insurgency
• Public Secondary Schools resumed in Borno State on Monday September 26, 2016, after two years of closure
• Capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest, in December 2016. Following this, the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists.
• Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State Chapter declared the 2017 Easter Celebrations as the best and safest since 2009.
• Arik Air resumed flights to Maiduguri in May 2017, three years after suspending operations to the city.
• Nigerian Military reopened Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road in March 2018, four years after it was seized by Boko Haram.
• Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities across the Northeast, since 2015.
• Tens of thousands of hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014, and 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018.
HIGHLIGHTS OF OPERATION SWIFT RESPONSE (PARTIAL BORDER CLOSURE) AUGUST 2019 TO DECEMBER 2020:
Operation SWIFT RESPONSE (OSR) which was launched in August 2019 and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has now transformed into Nigeria’s Joint Border Patrol Team (JBPT) as part of a Tripartite Operation, comprising Benin, Niger and Nigeria.
• 1,401 irregular migrants arrested
• 159,506.7 (50kg) bags of parboiled foreign rice;
• 10,447 bags of NPK fertilizer used for making explosives;
• 1,974 Vehicles;
• 895 motorcycles;
• 18,690.3 Jerry cans of Vegetable Oil, among other seized items.
• The total monetary value of the apprehended items is about Twelve Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Million, Three Hundred and Thirty Three Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Five Naira Fifty Kobo (₦12,538,333,545.50).
NEW NAF BASES COMING TO KATSINA AND GOMBE
• Nigerian Air Force has acquired land to be used for an Operational Base in Gwauruwa Village, Funtua in Katsina State. The new base will translate into increased security coverage and reduced response times for effective air operations against bandits in the area.
• Nigerian Air Force has commenced construction of a Base for its newly-established Unit, the 203 Combat Renaissance Group (203 CRG), in Gombe State. The Base will host some of the NAF’s newly-acquired armed drones (UCAVs).
LAUNCH OF OPERATION TURA TAKAIBANGO IN YOBE STATE IN JANUARY 2021:
· Operation TURA TAKAIBANGO was launched by the Military as a subsidiary Operation of Operation LAFIYA DOLE on January 7, 2021. On January 9, 2021, Troops of Operation TURA TAKAIBANGO identified and encircled a Boko Haram ambush site in Gujba LGA of Yobe State, killing 28 Boko Haram Terrorists, destroying one Boko Haram Gun Truck with its occupants while capturing another Gun Truck. Also captured were 2 Anti-Aircraft Guns, 13 AK 47 Rifles, 4 extra magazines and a Vulcanizing Machine.
LAUNCH OF EXERCISE “TAIMAKO YAZO”:
• The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on 2 January, 2021, conducted a Joint Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Special Forces (SF) and Air Police K-9 Simulation Exercise (JCSAEX) at Rijana Village along Kaduna-Abuja Highway.
• The Exercise, code named “TAIMAKO YAZO”, was aimed at simulating tactics, doctrine and synergy amongst first responders for effective CSAR operations of downed aircrew or other NAF personnel who have had to eject or abandon their aircraft in emergency situations.
• The ability to rescue crew from hostile environments is particularly important as it can be adapted for anti-kidnapping operations as was recently done by the NAF in concert with other security agencies in the rescue of all the 344 kidnapped boys of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
• The Air Force will conduct a total of six of these Exercises between January and June 2021, mostly in the Northwest, particularly in Zamfara and Katsina States.