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Nigeria: Boko Haram/ISWAP Terrorists Attack 16 Military Bases In 18 Months, Kill 750 Soldiers

Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists on the rampage across the country have attacked about 16 military bases in the last 18 months, fuelling concerns that the military was overstretched and needed to restrategise to deal with the criminals, protect its personnel and tackle the security challenges.

Findings revealed that while some of the attacks led to the killing of soldiers, some were repelled and insurgents killed. It was also gathered that within the last couple of months, about 750 soldiers have been killed in different parts of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, described as unacceptable the volume of attacks on Nigerians, blaming some foreign elements for fuelling the country’s security situation.

Speaking in Abuja at the graduation of Course 30 of the National Defence College, where he was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the President said, “Government is deeply concerned about the activities of bandits and criminals who have reared their ugly heads in some parts of the country. This is because the number of violent unprovoked attacks on citizens appears to be on the increase. This is unacceptable.

“Accordingly, we have given strong directive to the military and other security agencies to deal decisively with terrorists, bandits and other enemies of the country. We have also adopted bilateral and multilateral arrangements to tackle the trans-border and maritime crimes because we recognise that some of our security challenges are imported into Nigeria by foreign elements.

“I want to assure all Nigerians that the government is doing all it can to eliminate or apprehend the criminals or bandits, wherever they are.”

Attacks on facilities

Meanwhile, the compilation done by Sunday PUNCH showed that the attacks on the military bases took place in the North. In 2022, there were six major attacks on military bases, witnessed in Borno, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba and Niger states. These were independent of other attacks on the military, including ambushes, attacks on their convoys and the most recent attack on soldiers was at the Zuma Rock checkpoint on July 28. A soldier was killed in the attack.

On some of the attacks on military bases, terrorists attacked a military base in Sarkin Pawa Town in the Munya Local Government Area of Niger State on July 18, 2022. The Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, said troops were able to repel the attack, noting that there were no casualties on the side of the soldiers.

On May 10, terrorists suspected to be members of the Islamic State West African Province launched an attack on the perimeter of the 6th Brigade military base in Jalingo, Taraba State. They were said to have thrown an explosive device into the base around 8:44pm. No casualty was recorded.

Also, on April 4, suspected Ansaru terrorists attacked a military base at Polewire on the Kaduna-Birnin Road in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, during which about 11 soldiers were feared killed, while 19 soldiers were reportedly injured by the terrorists. The terrorists, who used Rocket-Propelled Grenade, also killed three members of a vigilance group and injured two.

In a similar vein, it was reported that ISWAP fighters attacked the multinational military base in Doron Baga, Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State on March 19. They were however repelled by soldiers attached to the Operation Hadin Kai, killing some of the terrorists. Reports said the terrorists came with five gun trucks and grenades but were eventually decimated by the soldiers after about a two-hour gun battle.

Also, reports on January 21 noted that terrorists stormed the military base located within Government Day Secondary School, Shinfada, in the Jibia Local Government of Katsina State. A soldier and a member of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were reportedly killed. The Spokesperson for the NSCDC, Muhammed Abdara, confirmed the development to journalists.

In 2021, reports said there were attacks on at least 11 military bases in the North. Some of the attacks were foiled by soldiers.

In January 2021, Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters attacked the New Marte Base in Borno State. The military disclosed to journalists that the terrorists were repelled through the collaborative efforts of the Operation Lafiya Dole, and the Nigeria Airforce.

In February, a few kilometres from Dikwa Town in Borno State, Boko Haram terrorists attacked the military’s super camp in the area. Reports indicated that the attack was meant to gain access to the United Nations base and control of the town, but they were repelled by soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole and other military formations. The number of casualties was not disclosed by the military.

The spokesperson for the Army, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yerima, said in a statement that the terrorists stormed the town with gun trucks and motorcycles but were repelled by the soldiers.

In April 2021, the army confirmed that a military base in Mainok, Borno State, was also attacked by ISWAP terrorists. The terrorists ambushed a military convoy escorting weapons to the military base in Mainok.

They later attacked the base and reportedly killed several soldiers, including their commander; a lieutenant colonel. They were reported to have seized two Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in the attack before overrunning the base and burning military vehicles. But Yerima said in a statement that the attack was a multi-directional attack and that it claimed one officer and six soldiers while six others “sustained varying degrees of injuries”.

In May 2021, suspected members of Boko Haram attacked a base in Ajiri Village, Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State. It was reported that the terrorists dislodged the soldiers of their weapons at the time of the attack. Mafa was a safe place for resettled internally displaced persons who were displaced due to previous terror attacks.

Meanwhile, the terrorists also attacked the Nigeria Defence Academy, Afaka Campus in Kaduna in August 2021. The PUNCH reported that they killed two officers while one Major Christopher Datung was kidnapped, while another officer was hospitalised.

On September 12, terrorists also attacked the Forward Operating Base, Mutumji, Dansadau LGA, Zamfara State, killing at least 12 security operatives. Nine Airmen, two policemen and one soldier were reported as casualties of the clash between the soldiers and the terrorists.

On September 26, suspected bandits killed some members of a joint patrol team when they attacked ‘Burkusuma camp,’ a joint military base in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State. The attack which occurred in the early hours of the day was confirmed to The PUNCH by villagers who escaped to the state capital.

The state Commissioner for Carriers and Security Matters, Col. Garba Moyi (retd), who also confirmed the attack on the military base, however, said that he was not sure of the number of casualties. However, three NSCDC personnel were confirmed to be among the casualties. It was reported that terrorists overran the camp, burning the patrol vehicles and stealing food items.

The PUNCH also reported that ISWAP terrorists attacked the United Nations base in Rann, in the same month. They attacked the strategic base which is located near the border between Nigeria and Cameroon to gain control of the border town. A UN security source disclosed that a soldier and a local volunteer with a foreign aid agency were killed. While the military confirmed the attack on the base, it said troops restored calm without being dislodged from their camp.

On November 8, 2021, suspected ISWAP fighters attacked a military base in Tamsukawu, a village in Kiaga Local Government Area of Borno State. The Commander, Sector 3 of Civilian Joint Task Force, Modu Fannami, told journalists that the few soldiers at the base engaged the attackers in a heavy gun battle but did not disclose the number of casualties on both sides.

In November 2021, The PUNCH reported that a brigadier general was killed by ISWAP fighters when they attacked a military base in Askira in the Uba LGA of Borno State in the same month. Three other soldiers were reportedly killed at Bulgama, a few kilometres from Askira town.

In December, members of ISWAP stormed the military base in Rann, in the Kala Balge LGA of Borno State. Six soldiers were reportedly killed while about 20 terrorists died in a battle to overrun the base.

There are concerns over the spate of attacks on military institutions and soldiers in different parts of the country.

750 soldiers killed

Meanwhile, about 750 soldiers lost their lives between the third quarter of 2020 and July 2022. Sunday PUNCH reported in April 2022 that no fewer than 714 soldiers were killed as of April. Findings however showed that about 35 soldiers were killed between May and July, 2022, a development some retired generals and security experts described as unacceptable.

For example, six soldiers of the 93 battalion, Takun, were killed on May 10 when suspected terrorists ambushed a convoy carrying the commanding officer of the Battalion while on his way to Jalingo, the Taraba State capital.

Also, 20 military personnel were killed by terrorists during an attack on a mining firm located in Ajata-Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State on June 30, 2022.

The criminals on July 22 attacked some officials of the 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade, killing eight soldiers, including a captain and a lieutenant. Related News

It was also reported that an attack on army checkpoint at Zuma Rock on July 28 left one soldier dead while two others sustained injuries as a result of the gun battle that ensued.

Engage mercenaries – Reps

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence has urged the Federal Government led by Buhari to engage mercenaries to tackle the growing insecurity.

Chairman of the committee, Babajimi Benson, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, stated that the Armed Forces were overstretched as they were now engaged in internal security operations which should have been led by the Nigeria Police Force.

Bensons said the idea was based on his position and the privileged information available to him.

He said, “Everybody knows we have done it before. Every country, even the United States, uses them at one point or the other. I am the Chairman of (House Committee on) Defence and I know what I am talking about.

“The major way we can solve our insecurity problem is to rework the security architecture and I believe that before we can successfully rework it, we need to, in the interim, engage military contractors because you cannot be trying to rework your infrastructure and at the same time be deploying here and there.

“The Armed Forces are in 34 to 35 states doing one operation or the other, and they are stretched thin as we speak.”

He said the Federal Government must continue to seek alternative means of dealing with the insecurity across the country, especially before Nigeria takes delivery of the 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters ordered from the United States.

Commending the Armed Forces for doing so well with so little manpower, he said if engaged, the military contractors would be given Service Level Agreement and milestones.

Also, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Adejoro Adeogun, partly blamed the failure of the security agencies to prevent crimes on lack of cooperation and coordination between them.

He added, “When you have collaboration with the other parties, the recipients of the intelligence will work in conjunction with the intelligence generator. They are meant to work together so that if there is anything that is not complete, you can give feedback and get the completeness.

“I think in the Nigerian system, that kind of symbiotic relationship does not seem to exist. There must always be constant feedback. I do not think that kind of synergy exists within what we call the action agencies and the intelligence generators.”

The PUNCH  reported on Saturday that despite the fact that the National Assembly had commenced its two-month annual recess, the leadership of the House asked the committees on security to continue working with the military and paramilitary agencies over the growing insecurity in Nigeria.

The security committees include the Committee on Defence, Committee on Army, Committee on Air Force, Committee on Navy, Committee on National Security and Intelligence and the Committee on Police Affairs.

It was also reported that the Chairman of the House Committee on Defence met with military authorities on Friday, about 24 hours after the President met with the security chiefs under the auspices of the National Security Council at the Presidential Villa.

Some members of the National Assembly, especially the minority caucus, had issued a six-week ultimatum to the President to address the security crises across the country or be impeached.

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, could not be reached on Friday to confirm if the entire chamber would back the idea of mercenaries.

Kalu had while addressing journalists in Abuja on December 2, 2020, noted that external forces could be engaged only when the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has declared an emergency on security.

The PUNCH

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