The United States Department of State is worried about Nigeria’s inability to effectively secure and hold onto territories recaptured from Boko Haram terrorists despite the successes recorded by the Multi-National joint task force.
This assertion is contained in the United States country report on terrorism for the year 2016 submitted to the US Congress in compliance with the title 22 of the US Code.
The report, published on July 19, highlights the successes and failings of the Nigerian Army in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists.
It indicates that the Federal government’s progress report on the fight against terror is merely a duplication of failed efforts carried over from the end of last year’s fighting season.
It says the Nigerian government has not been able to rebuild civilian structures and institutions in areas captured. Just as it has not been able to rescue the remaining Chibok school girls abducted in 2014.
“Despite gains made by the MNJTF, much of its reported progress was merely duplication of failed efforts carried over from the end of the last dry/fighting season. The Nigerian military was unable to hold and rebuild civilian structures and institutions in those areas it had cleared,” the report reads in part.
“Most of the remaining students abducted by BH in Chibok remained in captivity, although one girl was found in Borno, and the Government of Nigeria successfully negotiated the release of 21 of the kidnapping victims.”
According to the report, terrorist activity accounted for the displacement of nearly two million persons in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobes.
Although it notes that the Nigerian government continued to facilitate the return of internally displaced persons to their home communities, it said this was sometimes done without first putting “appropriate conditions in place for safe, informed, and voluntary returns”.
It adds, “There was no evidence in 2016 of the implementation of a coordinated plan to restore civilian security in recaptured territories.”In partnership with international donors, the Nigerian government set up several institutions to coordinate the reconstruction of areas destroyed by the conflict in the northeast.”
The report also accuses the Nigerian government of failing to get help from regional organisations.
It says, “The Nigerian government has not invested significant resources or time enlisting regional organisations, such as the Economic Organisation of West African States and Economic Community of Central African States, to assist with the BH problem.
“Instead, the Government of Nigeria preferred to engage BH militants in direct, unilateral military action and through the MNJTF, which is headed by a Nigerian military officer.”
Some notable attacks of 2016, highlighted in the report:
- On January 28, six male and female suicide bombers detonated explosives in Chibok, killing 16 people. While other attacks this year may have resulted in greater casualties, the number of bombers made this attack significant.
- On January 30, BH attacked Dalori with three female suicide bombers and dozens of conventional attackers. At least 85 people were killed.
- On February 9, two female suicide bombers detonated explosives at the Dikwa camp. At least 58 people were killed and 78 people were injured.
- On September 20, a military convoy was attacked in the town of Malam Fatori, Borno State, killing 40 people and injuring dozens.
- On October 16, a Nigerian Army battalion located in Gashagar Village, northern Borno, was attacked by BH members who overran the army position. At least 24 soldiers were reported as missing in action and have not been reported as found. Several of the army’s vehicles were reportedly destroyed or recovered by BH.
- On December 9, two female suicide bombers detonated themselves in a market in Madagali Village, Adamawa State. Nigerian military officials reported 30 people dead and 68 people wounded. Open source news reported up to 57 people dead and 177 people wounded.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has blamed the pockets of Boko Haram attacks in Borno State on the information the insurgents get from informants.
The Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, stated this on Monday on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
An exploration team – including five lecturers of the University of Maiduguri, about 15 soldiers, 11 members of the civilian JTF and some staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) – was ambushed by the insurgents on Tuesday last week.
Reacting to the attack, Major General Enenche noted that unless the terrorists were given adequate information about the progress of the exploration exercise, the team would not have fallen into the ambush.
“These things happening now are information bound strongly and I still want to state that there are informants, there are still collaborators who are collaborating [with the terrorists]. How come they did not attack them on the first day when they started the exploration exercise with the soldiers [until] when they have finished and are going back?” he questioned.
The DHQ spokesman insisted that some people must have been monitoring the oil workers and their escorts, stressing that conspirators ensured the attack on the team was successfully carried out.
He, however, called on the public to support the onslaught against the insurgents by availing the military with useful and prompt information to wipe out the terrorists.
“What is an ambush? You conceal yourself, pass through people, hide your weapons and waylay them; that is it. So it is the work of conspirators and we need the cooperation of the people seriously.
“These people that ambushed this team did not just come from the sky, they passed through people and they got information. Some people must have told them [monitor them (the team), they are moving from here to there] and they are collaborators”, he added.
The major general noted further that the insurgents are not back in full force contrary to reports and called for more information on fleeing terrorists in order to completely rid them of the region.
“It’s not full force; if they were back full force, they would have been controlling territories. They are not back full force but we need information to begin to clear them until we clear them completely”. – Channels