End Insurgency in 3 months- Buhari Orders service chiefs
PMB decorated the new service chiefs and gave them a directive to end all activities of BH in 3 months. A lot of discussions and questions have been asked over the timeline given to the service chiefs by the president. The fact is that a lot of progress can be accomplished within 90 days. Within that time frame, BH’s operational capabilities can be severely weakened. Land they occupied can be retaken, their safe havens can be thoroughly cleared out, their supply chain can be permanently interrupted, and counter IED strategies can be implemented resulting in defeating the IED menace. All these things put together can deal a severe blow to the insurgent group.
That being said, the insurgency as a whole cannot be brought to an end within 3 months. For this to happen, country’s security apparatus will have to overhaul their strategies and adapt their mode of operation to counter-terrorism fight. Increased information sharing, cross agency collaboration, ongoing intelligence collection and fusion, and rapid information dissemination, have to be in place before Nigeria defeat the insurgency.
New NSA, Service Chiefs Visit Borno
There are already signs of renewed strategies and dedication amongst the newly appointed heads of the various security agencies. First of all, the heads of the security chiefs visited Borno which shows a detour from business as usual. They showed a level of awareness and understanding of counter insurgency when they begun by asking the people of Borno for forgiveness and collaboration in sharing information.
It is going to take a lot more than apologies for the Nigerian military to regain the trust of the people of North-East Nigeria. In the past after community residents collaborated with the military and ousted out BH members, they were then left to protect themselves from the inevitable reprisal BH attacks. In fact, on a few occasions, the military troops themselves carried out the reprisal attacks on members of the community. There was one reported instances where BH attacked a community and fighters from both sides were killed, the Nigerian military was said to have returned to the community and killed a number of innocent civilian males, in retaliation for their slain comrades.
Despite the above, there appears to be renewed trust in the military lately as is evident in the recent actions of the civilian militias who now confidently go on the offensive against BH knowing that military back up is available. For instance, the CJTF this week fought bravely when BH militants stormed Lahou village, resulting in 17 EKIA.
While the service chiefs appearing in Borno which has been the hot bed of the insurgency further solidifies the commitment of the force, other services such as the Air Force has stepped up their operations as well. This week, the AF deployed additional combat platforms for the counter insurgency fight. Earlier this month, PMB had stated that the air force was non-existent. But not long after that comment, the Nigerian Air Force successfully uncovered a major BH supply location. After several weeks of aerial reconnaissance, the NAF carried out airstrikes in BH’s safe haven the Sambisa Forest. PMB believed the NAF was in a sorry state, when instead, the leadership of the NAF was more likely the fault of the ineffective organization.
BH Leadership still operational and attacks are ongoing
An existing leadership or lack thereof, is vital to the success of any group or organization. Lately, there were several speculations about the leadership of BH as new videos sufficed sans the group’s known leader Abubakar Shekau. While analysts are still waiting to get a confirmation on the fate of the leader, the President of Chad Idriss Deby claimed this week that BH is no longer led by Abubakar Shekau and that his successor was called Mahamat Daoud and was open to talks.
The group last week released a gruesome video in which an unidentified young man stated that he was speaking in the name of Islamic State in West Africa and indicated that the group was still operating stronger and unobstructed. Based on this action, claims that BH is now ready to negotiate are contradictory and more than likely fallacious. Adequate intelligence gathering including the use of HUMINT and COMINT reports would have given the military confirmation on the status of Shekau. So far, the military has not denied or confirmed the fate of Shekau which could indicate that they like the rest of the civilian population wait to hear publicly from Shekau to confirm his status.
By the end of last week, an audio recording was released by a person claiming to be Abubakar Shekau. The last time Nigerian military authorities under GEJ claimed Shekau was dead; he appeared in a video to prove otherwise. The leader opting for an audio status confirmation is slightly questionable. Either way, BH under the leadership of Shekau does not appear to be ready to give up their arms and negotiate. BH members attacked a community in the outskirts of Maiduguri, killing 6 and abducting 4 women. They were also said to have carted away livestock and foodstuff possibly replenishing what they have lost.
A major attack this reporting period, bearing the tactics of BH, resulted in the death of about 50 civilians when a bomb that was emplaced in Sabon Gari Market along Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu highway exploded around 1.15pm, peak trading time. The bomb was concealed in a crop spraying backpack, smuggled into the market and abandoned there. The time of the day led to higher casualties.
Past attacks in Sabon Gari, Damboa LGA, Borno State
BH has been increasing the amount of suicide bombings and IED attacks which analysts believe is indicative of a frustrated group trying to mimic strength. Indeed, what we are seeing is a group that has changed its own tactics and techniques to adapt to the military’s new offensive strategy. They realize that operating as a symmetric army occupying land, makes them easier targets for aerial bombardment. They have regressed from land occupation and audacious ambushes against towns and military installations, to the use of IEDs and hit and run tactics which is indicative of desperate force losing their momentum, albeit feigning strength.
The main threat with BH’s IED tactic adaptation is that if they consider IED attacks a successful means of terrorizing the local population, there is an increased chance they will want to carry out this attack in other parts of Nigeria. IED attacks cause a significant amount of damage with minimal effort and risk to the insurgents. Earlier this week, Ex-Army General Officer Commanding Maj. Gen. Dibi stated that the sect had attempted to infiltrate the south-west especially Lagos, but were prevented by the Army.
It is now more imperative that the nation’s security agencies focus on carrying out counter IED operations. Combining post blast IED forensics, biometrics data, aerial surveillance and proper intelligence analysis will go a long way in identifying the IED makers, the em-placers, the material suppliers, the financiers and all actors involved in perpetrating this lethal act.
Some measures members of the public could take in order to promote a more secure Nigeria include being aware of their surroundings at all times. With the new focus and offensive campaign of the military, the BH insurgents are being dislodged from their safe havens and will attempt to assimilate with the public while possibly operating in smaller cells to carry out smaller attacks. The public should be extra vigilant of strange faces or items left unattended and report anything suspicious to security authorities.
Nigeria to Install Cameras in Prisons to Check Jailbreaks
This week, the federal ministry of interior said it would soon install surveillance cameras in prisons to check cases of jailbreaks. They also stated that the prison service was experiencing acute shortage of personnel and stressed the need for the employment of more staff. The ministry is also reported experiencing challenges manning or tackling the over 1,900 illegal routes across the nation’s borders.
Questions ought to be raised as to why hitherto there have been no cameras installed. This is a situation where a security installation has no technical security. Jail breaks and unexplained deaths have been occurring in the nation’s prisons without any video evidence and all along the leadership never installed cameras.
Tackling a porous border is a challenge even in the most sophisticated of societies. In Nigeria, there are over 1,900 illegal border crossings and while the Ministry of Interior is saying it is experiencing challenges in manning them, resolving such a magnanimous task will require much more than man power, the use of advance technical devices will give a much better chance of controlling the problem.
Police lost 12,000 men in two years – PSC
The police service commission said it lost 12,000 officers since 2013 from death, dismissal, desertion and or retirement. The Nigerian police force is 300,000 strong tasked to secure a nation of 160 million. Training schools are supposedly dilapidated due to inactivity. The issue of manning in the security sector will continue to be a major challenge in the foreseeable future. If the manpower to safeguard prisons and manpower to police the country continues to dwindle, there will be more challenges in law enforcement in the country. The federal government needs to leverage the vast human resource, employ and train the many unemployed youth within our society, this not only puts them off the streets, it will also stimulate the economy.