By: Sunday Attah
The last two weeks have been nightmarish for remnants of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in Nigeria. Both Nigerian soldiers, in alliance with the Airforce have launched co-ordinated and sustained attacks on insurgents in a manner that has left the remnants of the terrorists gasping for breath in their various hideouts in multiple locations in the Northeast.
With “Operation Rescue Final” (ORF) actively at play, troops have descended hard on insurgents, recording astonishing victories against terrorists, through arrests, deaths of terrorists during gun battles and seizure of large cache of arms and ammunitions from these devils incarnates and outlaws.
For example, in the last one week alone, soldiers backed by the airforce unleashed unprecedented attacks on a number of BHTs locations in Northern Borno. The encounters led to the death of countless insurgents.
Military Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft sighted a congregation of BHTs under a tree at Kadari and the ensuing military action on the location massively deflated the ranks of insurgents as an unascertained number were killed and the few survivors fled in aimless directions in the haze of confusion.
But determined to completely smoke out insurgents, two days later, similar co-ordinated operations resumed at Ngoshe and the dragnet was spread to five other pivotal targets of terrorists havens, as ORF of the Nigerian Army advanced with smoldering rage. In effect, remnants of terrorists in Kangarwa, Ngoshe to Pulka also succumbed to the superior fire power of Nigerian troops.
But an incident that has excited Nigerians infinitely from these recent exploits of Nigerian soldiers under the innovative leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Tukur Buratai’s OPR , is tidings about troops ambush and capture of terrorists near Goneri in the South western part of Kukawa LGA of Borno state.
Troops from the 118 Task Force Battalion, 7 Brigade, acting on intelligence report ambushed Boko Haram insurgents, killing many and lucky ones escaped with gunshots wounds. But troops recovered from the insurgents, an amazing cache of arms and ammunitions loaded in two trucks. They were obviously heading to a destination to unleash violence on innocent people.
A peep into the arms and ammunitions recovered from the terrorists according to the Nigerian Army were a Buffalo Land Cruiser gun truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun; 1,600 rounds of 12.7mm Armour Piercing Incendiary (API) ammunitions; 563 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition for General Purpose Machine Guns and 57 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition among other assorted materials for constructing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
Reports indicate that the unrelenting soldiers are exploring new frontiers in combing insurgents’ hideouts, as troops of 157 Task Force Battalion have also assailed the escape routes of remnants of terrorists around Mile 90, Yoyo, Barwati and Kekeno villages.
This incident of success against remnants of terrorists stand out uniquely because the cache of arms and ammunitions seized from them could have been ferried to any location, community or even sneaked into Abuja, the capital seat of Nigeria, if they had passed undetected.
It is this discreet, unchecked movement of arms and ammunitions by terrorists up to early 2015 that almost brought the insurgents close to capturing Aso Villa and Abuja entirely. It reminds one of major incidents like the December 2010 terrorists’ bomb explosions at the gates of a military barracks in Abuja; the June 2011 bombing of Nigeria Police headquarters in Abuja; the August 2011 terrorists attack on the Abuja United Nations building and the April 2014 Nyanya bus station bombing; the 2010 Independence Day car bomb explosion at the Eagle Square Abuja among several other incidents of terror.
Based on the proximity of the venue of the Independence Day car bomb explosions to Aso Villa, Nigeria’s seat of power, it sent jitters down the spine of occupants of Aso Rock, as terrorists threatened to bomb the presidential Villa itself. And it seemed possible, hence they came very close.
Indeed, the timing and severity of the Nyanya bus station bomb explosions, coupled with the magnitude of deaths and destructions in a place perpetually crowded, with vehicular and human traffic, sent phobia into all Abuja residents. The Abuja bus station and Independence Day incidents particularly, confirmed to Nigerians the omnipresence of terrorists everywhere in Abuja and the insecurity of residents.
Replaying the mood of the time, violence replaced peace; phobia took the place of freedom and suspicions of everybody and everything in every place, arrested the tranquility of this once secured and serene capital city. It penetrated so deeply that a mere bomb scare could cause a terrible public stampede, resulting in injuries of scores of people.
Some troubled Nigerians even relocated their families out of Abuja; others arranged their transfers out of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to locations they deemed safer. Traffic gridlock intensified on all entry routes into Abuja, as a consequence of several military checkpoints. Life was precisely hellish for Abuja residents.
But respite has returned to Abuja and residents now only blissfully recount the old terrible days, Boko Haram freely reigned and unleashed terror on any part of the FCT unchallenged. Investigations revealed that masterminds of the Nyanya bus station bomb explosions, camped their lethal weapons at the Utako district village settlement for days undetected by security agents, before moving them to Nyanya early the morning they struck.
But today, through the doggedness of a rejuvenated Nigerian military, especially the Nigerian army under Buratai, Abuja residents are once again graciously proud of a Federal Capital Territory, which is fast reclaiming its status as an epitome of security, peace and progress.
They are indeed elated that with President Muhammedu Buhari (PMB) on the saddle, they have neither heard the deadly sounds of bomb explosions for countless months nor lived with the burden of fear.
And the bliss Abuja now enjoys by its extrication from terrorism is reflected in the mood of Nigerians, who are celebrating it openly and in different ways. Just last Friday in Abuja, at Nigerian Army Resource Cente, Abuja , the Executive Secretary, TETFund, Dr. Abdullahi Bichi Baffa exemplified this appreciation by boosting the morale of the Nigerian military with a cash donation of N10 million. The gesture is meant to support the good works of troops and also, as a positive response to PMB’s plea to Nigerians to appreciate and acknowledge the brilliant efforts of the military in the counter-insurgency war.
Dr. Bichi Baffa explained that the donation is under the banner of TETFund’s “Thank You For Service Initiative,” which is a token the organization has packaged to appreciate the gallantry of the armed forces for its victorious tackling of security challenges in the country generally and Abuja, describing it as highly commendable.
“The management and staff of the fund are very much in tune with what the Nigerian Army is doing, the efforts being put in place and the success that has been recorded,” he added.
While Nigeria profoundly savours this peace, it should be the fervent prayers of every Nigerian that God Almighty continues to protect and preserve the Nigerian military, especially Nigerian soldiers.
Above all, Nigerians should never cease to accord them high recognition at all times for their heroism in the terror war and the sacrifices they have made to enthrone peace and comfort in the lives of millions of country men and women.
Attah, a public affairs commentator sent in this from Abuja