By: Madu John UCHE
Nigerians always position themselves on the wrong path. To say, Nigerians are the only citizens of any country in the world, who eagerly exhibit unpatriotic spirit or posture to a national cause would be uncharitable, but that’s what often happens.
In sober moments of reflection, when the conscience frees itself from the routine regulation of external forces, Nigerians in such eeriness and, prodded by the pricking of reality agree Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) have been degraded and defeated in the country. But under the influence of the forces of a heavily biased world, the truth is shunned.
However, no one should be deceived that rebels, with the venom of BHTs anywhere in the world surrender easily. They fight back at intervals because what constantly jiggle the evil hearts of remnants of such rebels is to recoup and re-launch fresh attacks, with the hope of regaining lost grounds.
Nigeria is at this stage of the anti-terrorism war, with the decimated terrorists. The international glory, the country has earned for defeating BHTs, reputed as the world’s most dreaded terror sect is not cheering news to the insurgents. It bruises their ego so badly.
Even their progenitors ISIS in Iran, with no such records of daring atrocities on humanity, like them have not yet been defeated. So, it is illusory for anybody to think, BHTs would just lick their wounds and go to bed. They won’t just give up meekly. They must pull last strings at the Nigerian state and her people. Nigerian soldiers are aware of it and it is what the country is experiencing now.
Unfortunately though and learning no new lessons in the character of Nigerians, the few incidents of BHTs isolated attacks on soft targets or military formations these weeks have given skeptics the tissue to dishonestly propagate the failure of the on-going anti-terrorism. But it is their mere wish and no man has the power to stop another man from thinking whatever comes to his mind. But the power of thought does not necessarily reflect the truth in all instances.
Expectedly, from the partisan chambers of cursed hearts, people are shamelessly trumpeting a baseless failure of the campaign against insurgents anchored by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and spearheaded by the Nigerian Army, under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. T.Y Buratai.
Peddlers of these retrogressive sentiments found fresh muscle to exercise their black hearts with BHTs attacks on the Command center of “Operation Lafia Dole” in Mallam Fatori, Borno state. The subsequent ambush and killing of five soldiers, including a gallant officer and commander of 272 Tank Battalion, Lt. Col. Muhammed Abu-Ali (may their souls rest in perfect peace) have all pushed the erroneous impression that BHTs have not been decimated in the country.
But this is far from the truth and Nigerians who harbor such feelings are perhaps unaware of the intensity of terrorism in Nigerian in the last five years and the now, near two years of respite from insurgency. Many Nigerians are still operating from the sidelines on the terror war and devoid of the enormity of the matter. But the realities about BHTs would shock anyone.
Before now and precisely in 2011 when terrorism peaked in Nigeria, BHTs struck mindlessly, with mind boggling statistics of deaths and the injured, much as large scale destructions. The frequency of attacks everywhere in Nigeria disarmed even the most hardened of hearts.
An overwhelmed former President Goodluck Jonathan declared a State of Emergency in the three Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, inclusive of some local government areas in Plateau state. But it never tempered with the menacing rage of terrorists to strike at designated targets unhindered.
It almost sacked governments of the three Northeastern states, as it held 16 local governments in the states under its captivity and control, declared them territories under their version of “ Islamic Caliphate” and foisted their flags. Schools were closed, farmers deserted farms and villages became ghost towns and some major roads closed permanently.
Life in any form came to an abrupt halt as terrorists took over, everywhere. The abduction of the 276 school girls in Chibok was the height of the impunity by BHTs that challenged national strength in security. This was the evidence of a blossoming BHTs occupation of Nigeria. It was what President Buhari inherited and he vowed to crush it.
Therefore, whether skeptics agree or not, it does not dissipate the reality of the remarkable difference about BHTs in Nigeria, yesterday, today and what they would still be tomorrow. None of the recounted and painful experiences of Nigerians has been the yoke of the country in the last one year of Buratai’s foot soldiers scoring the shots at the war front in the terror war.
To dig the issue deeper, some Nigerians are either not aware of the seriousness of the problem or are just plain mischief mongers. But it may interest them to know that a United States (US) based security tracker on terror in Nigeria released awful statistics about BHTs operations in the country in 2015.
The New York City-based Institute for Economics and Peace’s annual report on Global Terrorism Index 2015 did not only describe BHTs as the world’s most deadliest terror sect, but which has chillingly murdered over, 6,644 persons in 2014 alone, through bomb blasts or terror attacks on targets/communities in Nigeria. In the preceding year, 2013, insurgency in Nigeria 2013 recorded at least 1,007 deaths according to the rating of the same organization.
It therefore, defeats sound logic to think that a terror group as deadly and inhuman like BHTs, who have been subdued, would just hands off the battle because they have become new converts into the passion of humanity. No, it is not impossible. But their scale to unleash unimaginable violence on Nigerians is not just feasible anymore. It is unthinkable now and the immutable truth.
The sudden attack on Operation Dole Command Center in Mallam Fatori, was being repelled. Lt. Col. Abu-Ali and his colleagues died in battle because they were ambushed by the terrorists on their way back to fortify the Command center, after reinforcement. Even at that, 14 of the terrorists were gunned down. Soldiers have killed dozens of terrorists and many more have surrendered. These are rare accomplishments in other countries facing the horror of terrorism.
So, it is no longer a situation akin to the several instances of BHTs relaxed striking of targets, like some sampled incidents will explain. On January 20, 2012 in Kano, a single strike by BHTs left 183 persons dead, out of this number, 32 of them were police officers. Or is the tempo of their operations now, anywhere near the touchy Baga massacre of April 16, 2013, where terrorists were officially reported to have roasted 187 persons alive. Unofficial figures pegged the number to over 2, 000 persons, as the whole community was reduced to ashes.
Since June 2015, the terrorists have not been able to replicate the Yobe state school shooting, where more than 42 students were gunned down by the assailants of Boko Haram on July 6, 2013. On February 14, 2014, terrorists rudely terminated the lives of 121 Christian villagers in Kondugu, Borno state in one raid or the February 15, 2014 incident at Izghe, which killed over 106 persons and while Izghe mourned the dead, the terrorists also slaughtered another 90 Christians and nine soldiers in Gwoza, all in Borno state.
Can anyone remembers the October 29, 2013 Boko Haram raids of Damaturu, which recorded at least 128 people dead, including 23 soldiers and eight policemen or the May 5, 2014 incidents in the communities of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno state where terrorists attacks left at least 300 persons dead?
So, this is the difference between yesterday and today. BHTs have no longer the effrontery to storm prisons, cause jail breaks to free their members under detention. They would not contemplate ever getting this kind of freedom anymore under Buhari and Buratai even tomorrow, in spite of the infiltration of saboteurs’ or BHTs sympathizers in national troops.
So, the defeat of Boko Haram terrorists is not just an idea or a mere wish, but a palpable reality and the international community, whose independent assessors have also confirmed this much are not oblivious that terrorists once-in-awhile would attack targets as the Mallam Fatori incident has demonstrated. But with time, all these would fizzle out. So, there is a clear difference in the anti-terrorism war, yesterday and today, while tomorrow leaves no blossoming prospects for terrorists in Nigeria.
Madu, a public affairs commentator writes from Badagry, Lagos State.