By: Uche John Madu
Terrorism is the world’s most troublesome monster. Nations dread it; individuals resent it. And the rapidity terrorism has spread its tentacles and the sophistication it has attained within a short while have remained issues on the front burner of discussions by the comity of nations about security.
Before now, there were quite a few and indeed, isolated cases of terrorism in the globe manifest in plane hijacks mainly. But today, local militias have metamorphosed into unbending and vicious terrorists, who sustain ground war with security agents for ages.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has been worried about the trend. In September 2006, it passed and adopted resolutions on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. It was adopted by member nations and despite the hefty and meticulous strategies; terrorism is still spreading like wild fire. Nations under the scourge of terrorism have gone through hell, wasting human and material resources. But in most cases the fire of insurgency rages unquenchably.
Nigeria has tested this bitter pill and what started like a group of glorified local political thugs transformed into a ragtag army and subsequently into a full-blown terrorists organization by the identity of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). Islamic State (ISIS) has declared the sect, its wing of the West African Province of ISIS And for seven years, it held Nigeria spellbound, with alarming atrocities until December 2016, when the Nigerian troops conquered it.
Much as this triumph and peace from terrorism is sweet, some Nigerians have deliberately failed weigh the efforts and sacrifices of the Nigerian military. First, this milestone became feasible when President Muhammadu Buhari was enthroned as Nigeria’s President in May 2015. He reorganized the Nigerian military with a charge to end terrorism in the country and appointed an unbending soldier, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency war.
Buratai was optimistic of defeating terrorists and assured the President and Nigerians of ending the menace of terrorism and went to the extent of giving deadlines. The Army Chief who was appointed in July 2015, promised that Nigerian troops would subdue Boko Haram insurgents by December of the same year. He relocated the Theatre Command headquarters on the Counter-insurgency war to Maiduguri, the hotbed of terrorism in Nigeria’s northeast and mobilized troops enmasse to the zone.
To face the challenge posed by the terrorists triumphantly, Buratai invented several operational strategies, such as “Operation Lafiya Dole,” “Operation Rescue Final,” among others. Each of these strategies had a different concept and style of military operations in prosecuting the anti-terrorism campaigns that steadily weakened terrorists exploits.
BHTs fought back spiritedly and tenaciously, but the Nigerian troops gained slow, but steady mileage against them. Nigeria lost some troops and weapons to the insurgents. But the terrorists were more badly injured than Nigerian troops. And determined soldiers waxed stronger each day, as terrorists devised fresh strategies to prolong and subdue Nigerian troops in the war.
Buratai most times, led field operations personally and closely supervised troops in the battlefield, listening to their complaints and difficulties, which he remedied instantly and devised new strategies to ensure the Boko Haram insurgents are humbled and subdued.
Thus, by December of 2015, barely five months after Buratai assumed headship of the counter-insurgency war, the terrorists were appreciably decapitated. Nigerian troops had recaptured and reclaimed the about 16 local government areas held by Boko Haram insurgents and freed thousands of Nigerians held in bondage by the satanic sect.
Nigerian Soldiers reduced considerably the capacity of the terrorists to boldly drive in convoys to detonate bombs on communities and commit other atrocities. Hundreds of terrorists, including some of their Commanders who were caged by the military might of Nigerian troops voluntarily surrendered to the Nigerian Army.
The year 2016, for Buratai was a year of finality in the anti-terrorism battles, as he plotted fresh tactics in handling remnants of terrorists. He approached the battle with renewed vigour, as terrorists resorted to ambushed tactics and attacks on isolated and obscure targets. Feeling that Nigeria was winning the battle against terrorists, their disturbed agents within and outside Nigeria turned to cyberspace terrorism, where they circulated on social media, most especially, phantom news of terrorists attacks to encourage terrorists who had escaped to neigbouring countries not to abandon the cause.
But the ever alert Buratai realized it quite early and also, developed the Army’s cyberspace counter anti-terrorism strategy. It moved ahead of terrorists’ propaganda. Nigerians and the world began to believe more the incisive, accurate and precise reportage of events of the counter-terrorism war in Nigeria more than the social media hype of lies churned out by terrorists agents and sponsors.
It was a long, hellish time of engagement with the terrorists, but not longer than the experience of some countries under the yoke of terrorism. But eventually, Nigerian troops triumphed, with the gallant invasion, demystification and capture of Sambisa forest, BHTs most fortified haven in Borno state, Nigeria’s northeast.
Sambisa forest, a former colonial game reserve was the most dreaded and it provided almost an impenetrable bulwark for terrorists, but Buartai’s troops penetrated it and got to Camp zero, which supposedly housed BHTs leader, Abubakar Shekau. Although, he escaped capture, but soldiers came back with his relics as evidence of the extent they executed the mission.
It was BHTs final death knell and defeat of terrorism in the country, as they scattered in all directions. Some fleeing residues of terrorists were captured in different parts of Nigeria, while others took refuge in neighbouring countries, where they would occasional stray into Nigeria’s obscure border communities to strike. Buratai again launched “Operation Crackdown,” and it thoroughly flushed out the remnants of the terrorists, confiscated weapons and demolished some of their relics.
Now, major world leaders have acknowledged Nigeria for defeating Boko Haram terrorism. The United Nations is amazed and has poured encomiums on Nigeria’s President Buhari and the Nigerian military. Buratai is feted in Nigeria, Africa and the world for leading the battle against one of the world’s most dangerous terrorism sect to a resounding victory. Mathematically, Nigeria battled supersonic terrorism for six years from 2009 and a changed political and military leaderships in 2015 defeated terrorism in 16 months. It is a rare feat which has continued to astound the world.
In spite of these accomplishments, antagonists, agents, and sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria employ all tricks to diminish the efforts of Nigeria in successfully conquering terrorists. These awful elements are failing to appreciate the wisdom and the ingenuity of the Nigerian Army leadership enough. They neither recognize the labour nor the sacrifices’ involved.
There are countries in the world far greater than Nigeria in strength, military intelligence, sophistication and resources, but they have fruitlessly battled the scourge of terrorism by far greater number of years. They have had cause to lose personnel and weapons to terrorists and other rebel organizations. Just recently, more than 100 troops were feared dead when the Taliban terrorists’ sect attacked a military base in Afghanistan. But the country was gripped by terrorism years before its shadows were traced in Nigeria.
In 2015, the MailOnLine reported that a coalition of 42 countries have aligned forces in what they called “Global Coalition To Counter ISIS” terrorists in Iraq and Syria. And the battle is still raging and the allied forces against ISIS includes recruiting rival Islamic rebel sects opposed to the ideology of ISIS’s militants and other enemies, but the war is more stronger now. It is estimated that at least 12 rebel and terror groups have engaged ISIS across Middle East, Africa. And it is reported that the US-led coalition have so far launched over 15,000 strikes on militants targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014. This is supported by countries in the Global Coalition To Counter ISIS.
Confronting terrorists anywhere in the world is no easy task and all Nigerians should appreciate the reality that the terrorism in the country was tamed by the Nigerian military and never allowed to degenerate to such an awful alarming and negative levels. It is the moral duty of citizens of Nigeria to appreciate and encourage their military under the various Service Chiefs and the Army in particular under Buratai for burying terrorism.
Madu, a public affairs analyst writes from the Badagry Leadership Institute, Lagos