“THE Armed Forces of Nigeria, led by the Army has done a yeoman’s job in compliance with the presidential directive to degrade and defeat Boko Haram”, and has successfully pushed the terrorist group to the borders of the country from about 22 local government areas they occupied prior to the Muhammadu Buhari presidency.
This was the submission of the Chief of Army Training and Operations, Major General L.O Adeosun, while presenting a comprehensive narrative of the counter-terrorism operations of the Nigerian Army in the North East region of the country from 2015 till date.
Adeosun was making the presentation at the opening ceremony of the 2018 edition of the Chief of Army Staff annual conference in Maiduguri, Borno State.
He stressed that the government was not wrong to insist that Boko Haram has been technically defeated, explaining that the counter-insurgency operation is an asymmetric warfare and not a conventional one where one can declare victory by taking control of the enemy territory and capturing the enemy flag.
Adeosun, who made an elaborate powerpoint presentation, showed several maps detailing the progress made by the Nigerian military, led by the army, in dislodging Boko Haram from the territories where they held sway and pursuing them to the borders.
“We should not forget that what we are confronting is not conventional, what we are confronting is asymmetry terrorism, insurgency, which is different from where you can have red and blue lines and you can say that after crossing this red line and capture the flag and the headquarters, that the battle is won and lost. Asymmetry warfare is no way like that,” Adeosun said.
He said that as at 2014, the Boko Haram were comfortably attacking targets in the North Central and North West regions, far away from their major area of concentration, the North East, where they had taken control of several local governments.
But with the ascension to power of President Buhari and the subsequent appointment of Tukur Buratai as the COAS in July 2015, the tides changed. “Operations were reinvigorated in the 3rd quarter and concluding parts of 2015, (and) change in the dynamics within the North East and across the country in terms of spheres of control and penetration of the terrorists were noticed,” Adeosun said.
“At the end of one of the so many operations that was conducted within the year, which was ‘Operation Rescue Finale’, in December 2016, Boko Haram was only occupying forest terrains inside Alagarno and Sambisa, as well as the marshy terrains of the Lake Chad Basin.”
Adeosun said that so far in 2018, the army has conducted several operations either on its own or jointly with the Cameroonian army, one of which was “Operation Last Hold to resettle some internally displaced persons who were yearning to return to their homes… and over 35,000 internally displaced persons were resettled into their respective communities.
“Our major concern now is their [the insurgents’] locations within the thin lines of our borders with our contiguous countries. This has given them the opportunity to cross to the other side, regroup, rearm, and take support from their international allies. This is what has been given us the current problem.
“The problem we are facing now is not only Boko Haram, we are facing support to Boko Haram both in personnel and equipment through ISWA, that is: Islamic State in West Africa, and they are christened by the Islamic State in the various locations where they are, in Libya, in Iraq, and Syria,” he said.