2022 FIGHT AGAINST INSECURITY: HOPE RISES (Weekly Security Dashboard for the period January 1 – 7, 2022)
The year 2022 commenced with a ray of hope in the war against banditry and terrorism with Military airstrikes achieving commendable successes as an indication of the determination of present dispensation in guaranteeing lasting peace and stability in the country.
The glimmers of hope translated into a resounding joyous note from the masses when the military recorded a ground-breaking success in the war against insecurity as notorious Bandits’ Commander, Alhaji Auta, Kachalla Ruga and several terror-bandits were neutralized. On January 1, the military took the fight to their enclaves in Birnin Magaji LGA in Zamfara, resulting in scores of terror-bandits' killed in the resultant airstrikes.
Recall that Alhaji Auta while terrorizing the residents of Zamfara, had boasted in an interview that airstrikes never hit his fights. He was also in the process of renewed amnesty talks for which he was hopeful will scale through, until his demise.
Not done with the unfolding records of success, confusion broke out among two major terror groups, Sani Shurama-led ISWAP and Boko Haram insurgents under the Bakoura faction, with the attendant intense gun-duel amongst the duo leading to over 200 people losing their lives. Intelligence sources further allege that ISWAP fighters are still haunting for the fleeing Sani Shuwaram led-Boko Haram group to finalize their pending business.
Suffice to say that such an atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and tension in the terrorist camp is never bereft of benefits.
Recall that on April 29, 2021, Intelligence sources familiar with the internal leadership and politics of the Boko Haram JAS faction revealed an atmosphere of suspicion and tension in the Abubakar Shekau Sambisa Forest camp after the infamous and well respected Abu Fatimah ´commander of all wars’ was cornered and shot dead on the direct orders of Shekau.
In one of such developments, chaos in the camp of the terror groups led to Shekau killing himself in 2021 during the fight against rival jihadist fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) led by its Commander, Baana Duguri in the Sambisa forest. Shekau was said to have blown himself up to avoid being captured alive.
In addition to the headway made thus far in the fight against insecurity, the Nigerian Army is said to be in possession and effectively operates the LG3 Automatic grenade launcher. The LG3 is among the most advanced in the world, with the capacity to fire 400 rounds per minute in a range of 2200m. This is in addition to other acquired military hardware and Tucano A-29 air crafts already on the ground to eliminate insurgency and banditry within the projected seventeen months.
It is therefore not surprising that the acting on improved strategic Intelligence surveillance, the continuous air interdiction and bombardment by ground troops have become very effective and precise in neutralizing hundreds of bandits in their enclaves.
The precision with which the intensified offensive continue to neutralize an overwhelming number of terror-bandits in its trail has resulted in terrorists abandoning their safe-haven in East of Zamfara in drones for succour in farther areas such as Munhaye-Birnin-Gwari and Niger State, since the killing of Alhaji Auta, Kachalla and several others. The new location may not be unconnected with the shelter of the dense forest it provides as protection against troops’ unabated offensives.
However, the peak of the counter-terrorism fight became evident when the Federal Government finally took the bold step on January 6 to officially proscribe banditry and release the gazette.
Given the palpable fear created in the enclaves of the terrorists with these recent developments, it is not surprising therefore that in a bid to lobby for amnesty and avoid military airstrikes and the heat of troops’ intensive offensive action, popular Zamfara notorious bandit leader, Bello Turji, attempts to extend olive branch with the unconditional release over 52 kidnapped victims. In an orchestrated atmosphere of repentance, he further enjoined other terror-bandits’ leaders to also consider releasing abducted people in their custody. This alleged handshake from Turji, coming after over 33 of his fighters lost their lives on December 17 when the intense heat of the troop’s bombardment was unleashed in his hideout should be taken with extreme caution of any underlying conditions.
In reacting to calls by his counterpart, another notorious terror-bandit, Alhaji Ado Aleru is also alleged to be ready to release all kidnapped victims in his captivity barely 24 hours after the call was made.
The current tempo in the fight against insecurity thus far reveals enhanced strategic moves to bring to fulfilment the promises made by the President in his New Year message.
According to President Buhari in his 2022 New Year, “The persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country may have threatened to unravel the incremental gains achieved in the real sectors of the economy and in the administration’s overall objective to position the nation on the irreversible trajectory of sustainable growth and progress, but I assure you that we will remain resolute in our commitments and shall continue to press ahead with our programmes and plans.
“The path to nationhood is often fraught with unpredictable difficulties and challenges, and most tried and tested nations have often prevailed through dogged determination, resilience, concerted commitment to unity, and the conviction that the whole of the nation, standing together against all odds, is by far greater and would ultimately be more prosperous and viable than the sum of its distinguishable parts.
“There is no doubt that the issue of Security remains at the front burner of priority areas that this Administration has given utmost attention to. As a follow up to our promise to re-energize and reorganize the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police, it is on record that this Administration has invested heavily in re-equipping our military in line with upgrading the platforms and firepower required to tackle the current challenges being faced in the country”.
However, amidst the atmosphere of a record of successes, there is a need to guide against all loopholes to avert monumental tragedies.
A pertinent loophole pending urgent investigation and answers is the disappearance of 88,000 AK-47 assault rifles and other firearms and ammunition from the custody of the police armoury. The immediate trace of this missing weaponry would ensure it does not end up in the hands of the terror groups, as the mayhem that will be wreaked in a twinkle of an eye with its possession, will make past history a child’s play.
It is worthy to situate here that the need for troops not to relent on their oars, but to capitalize on the fertile grounds created with the sustained offensives and confusion in the terrorists’ camps cannot be overemphasized.
Finally, the way and manner government manage the purported proposition for amnesty planned by the terror groups amidst fear of intensive offensive remains critical in the fight against terrorism.