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Lt.-Col, two soldiers killed as vehicle runs over IED planted by Boko Haram

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the death of three military personnel on Monday in Borno was “wake-up call’’ for the army to further strategise to defeat terrorists.

He stated this at the burial of Lt.-Col. Ibrahim Aminu, Cpl. Jibril Ahmadu and Lance Cpl. Tijjani Mohammed, at the Maimalari Cantonment Cemetery in Maiduguri on Tuesday.

Aminu, the Commanding Officer, 145 Task Force Battalion and the two soldiers died on Monday when, during patrol, their vehicle ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by Boko Haram insurgents. The device exploded.

The incident occurred at Mauli-Borgozo axis in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno.

Buratai said “this threat, IEDs, is real but we are taking all measures to ensure that we counter it.

“The challenge that we are having in the North-East has always been the enemy action, either through encounter or Improvised Explosive Device being exploded on our troops, and today’s burial is one of those incidents that involve IED.

“This is a situation that will require us to be vigilant at all times and to ensure that we protect ourselves from this menace of the IEDs.’’

He described the death of the officer and soldiers as “highly unfortunate and regrettable’’.

“Today, it is with heavy heart that we bury our colleagues who paid the supreme sacrifice in course of duty.

“It is a great loss; we will miss them.

“Let me pay my condolences to the families of the late lieutenant-colonel and two soldiers, and indeed all of us – officers and men of Operation Lafiya Dole and Nigerian army,’’ Buratai lamented.

Meanwhile, the Control and Command Centre of the Operation Lafiya Dole, on Monday unveiled a device to counter IEDs, as part of the measures to tackle the challenge.

The device, a padded roller supported by plate, weighing about 280 kilogrammes and attached to heavy duty truck, is capable of detecting and safely detonating IED.

And, in case the device goes off, the plate protects the vehicle and troops.

At the unveiling in Maiduguri, Buratai assured that apart from the roller, Nigerian Army Manufacturing Company was developing a similar device which would be mass produced “as soon as we get it correct.’’

He said that the device, when produced, would be used to counter the threat of IED.

On general security in the North-East, the army chief said that the situation was improving, but expressed worry about the terrorists’ resilience.

According to him they still move around causing havoc and sometimes attacking military locations.

He charged troops to sit up and deal with the terrorists, who he described as “criminal elements bent on destabilising the country and make life difficult for the citizens’’.

“We should not allow them to triumph over us.

“This should never be allowed to happen and therefore, we must make sure that we deal with them decisively and to do that, we must remain alert, conscious of our environment and must be vigilant all times.

“What is required now is just vigilance.

“We must ensure that all suspicious movements in and around locations are reported or actions are taken and arrest made. This will help us in this operation,’’ he said.

Buratai said that efforts were being made to procure required equipment and platforms for the ongoing operations, adding very soon, the first set of consignment would be delivered to the army.

He said that the equipment would greatly help to address some of the gaps observed in operations.

He disclosed that the military was taking “some strong and decisive measures’’ to checkmate the activities of the “Boko Haram jihadists’’.

The COAS urged citizens, especially Borno and Yobe states people, to be patient with whatever steps being taken to contain the terrorists.

“There may be some inconveniences; it is for the good of all of us, people of Borno and Yobe, and indeed, all Nigerians,’’ he said.

Boko Haram: Over 90,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon – UN officials

Officials from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and those from Adamawa and Borno states on Monday said about 90,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon ”are safe’’ and will soon return.

The officials brainstormed on Monday over plans to repatriate the refugees.

The refugees, mostly from Borno, were displaced by the unending Boko Haram insurgency.

At the meeting in Yola on Monday, the Adamawa State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ahmad Sajoh, said plans for their evacuation had reached an advanced stage.

”Necessary arrangements have been made by the Adamawa State Government to receive the refugees, who would pass through Adamawa transit camp from Minawawo camp in Cameroon.

‘’About  4,000 of the refugees are from Adamawa, and already agreement had been reached with some communities here in Adamawa to host about 1,500 refugees from Borno, who have indicated that they would want to remain in Adamawa,’’ he said.

The commissioner, who did not give the date for the commencement of the evacuation, said the refugees would be airlifted by the Nigerian Air Force.

Also speaking, the Borno delegation team leader, Kullima Kachalla, commended the government and people of Adamawa, ”for the hospitality to the displaced persons from Borno since the insurgency started.

”Borno government is committed to ensuring the success of the evacuation exercise,’’ Mr Kachalla said.

In her remarks, at the meeting,  head of UNHCR sub-office in Marwa, Cameroon, Mylene Ahounou, said: “the commission is waiting for final authorisation from the central government of Cameroon to embark on the exercise.

“We urge the Nigerian Government to also reach out to Cameroon to facilitate action.”

A representative of the refugees, Ashigar Mohammed, said ”We are eager to return home.” He thanked Nigeria, Cameroon and UNHCR for coming to their aid.

The UNHCR is a United Nations programme with the mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

The Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has led to about 100,000 deaths since 2009, according to the Borno State Government. The terror group, which has been largely decimated since 2015, seeks to impose strict Islamic law in Northern Nigeria.

Army rescues 29 women, 25 children

Troops of the Nigerian Army have rescued 54 Boko Haram kidnapped persons in Borno, including 29 women and 25 children.

In a statement, Col. Sagir Musa, the Acting Director Army Public Relations, said the victims were freed after troops cleared Ma’allasuwa and Yaa-Munye villages in the state.

Musa explained that the terrorists fled from the troops’ onslaught and abandoned their victims.

He also said that troops on clearance operation in Damasak general area of Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno, destroyed two Boko Haram logistics vehicles and make shift camp.

In another development, Musa disclosed that a Mobile policeman, Sgt. Markus John, with number PNo 383106 was arrested at Njimtilo check point along Maiduguri-Damaturu road, while on transit to Lagos.

He said that at the time of arrest, John was in possession of two magazines, 146 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition and one round of anti aircraft gun concealed in his bag.

On May 10, Musa said the army in conjunction with the police, arrested Pte Paul Ojochegbe (14NA7113208) and Lance Cpl. Oko Eke (12NA672586), also at the Njimtilo check point.

He alleged that they were in possession of one disassembled AK 47 Rifle.

Musa restated the army’s appeal to the public to continue to provide useful information about suspicious movement of terrorists and criminals.

NYSC confirms kidnap of corps member by Boko Haram

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has confirmed abduction of Abraham Amuta, a corps member, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents along Chibok road in Borno state.

Amuta was abducted alongside a pastor of the Living Faith Church Worldwide better known as Winners Chapel simply identified as Oyeleke.

Muhammed Sada, an NYSC information officer in Borno, said that Amuta travelled without permission.

He said it was through the church that NYSC learnt of Amuta’s abduction.

“Living faith Church wrote to us one week ago informing us about how one of our corps members named Abraham Amuta, Batch B, Stream 1, was abducted by members of Boko Haram,” he said.

“In the letter addressed to our state coordinator, they said a committee, led by Pastor Oyekele, was set up by the church to distribute relief items to internally displaced persons in Chibok.

“According to them, the abducted corps member was not part of the of the committee set up by the church for the programme, but he insisted on going with them.

“The corper went on his own under his church without the consent of the NYSC Borno secretariat. As you are aware, due to the volatile nature of Borno state, corps members are usually given the option to ask for redeployment.

“Also, no corp member is posted or sent on any assignment that can expose him to danger. NYSC will never deploy any corp member to a place where his life is exposed to danger.”

He added that security agencies had been informed of Amuta’s plight “for necessary action”.

Boko Haram launches fresh attack in Yobe

Boko Haram launched a fresh attack on Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, on Tuesday. The attack made soldiers to turn back vehicles, as no movement was allowed in the area.

Many of the residents were forced to stay indoors as the military engaged the insurgents, who were said to have tried to enter Damaturu through Maisandari, a settlement on the outskirts of the town.

Some of the residents of Maisandari, who spoke to our correspondent, said the attackers came through the eastern part of the town and started shooting sporadically.

One of them, Yusuf Maina, said he saw the assailants coming into the area in Hilux vans, which had anti-aircraft guns.

“Immediately we saw them, we had to scamper for safety. We can still hear an exchange of gunfire and we surely need your prayers.”

Some of the residents of Damaturu, confirmed on the telephone that they saw heavily armed soldiers in four armoured personnel carriers and many Hilux vans advancing towards Maisandari, from where the insurgents were said to have entered the town.

One of the residents, Bukar Alamin, said the shooting was first heard at about 5pm. He said some suspected Boko Haram members attempted to invade the Red Bricks Housing Estate along Maiduguri Road.

He said there were heavy sounds of gunshots and explosions and that a fighter jet was seen hovering over Damaturu around 5.30pm.

Boko Haram burns Chibok village in fresh attack

Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have again attacked a community in Chibok local government area of Borno state.

The attack comes three days after the insurgents burnt houses in Gatamwarwaward, Chibok.

“They came in through Sambisa forest at about 7pm and they have been setting the village on fire,” a Chibok resident told TheCable.

Kaumutiyahi is at least 13 kilometres away from Chibok.

A military source affirned that the Nigeria’s army 117 battalion stationed in Chibok were getting set to move into Kaumutiyahi.

“There is actually a company of army about 6 kilometres from the village under attack, but they would need the support of the larger battalion,” the source said.

In December, the insurgents attacked Makalama, a village in Gatamawarwa ward. Bwalakia villagers were also attacked three days after the Makalama attack, burning houses and leaving villagers stranded.

“They looted and burnt everything we have. We don’t have what to eat and we don’t have where to sleep,” one of the victims had said.

In November, Abubakar Elkanemi, shehu of Borno, had said the people of the state were still under Boko Haram siege.

As of the time this report was filed, Sagir Musa, army spokesman, had not responded to text  messages seeking information on the recent attack.

BREAKING: Boko Haram burning houses in Chibok

Suspected Boko Haram insurgents are currently burning houses in Gatamwarwa ward, Chibok local government area of Borno state.

The insurgents came in around 5pm through Askira, shooting sporadically leaving many villagers running for safety.

“They came in tens of motorcycles,” a resident said.

“They started shooting and setting houses ablaze.”

Gatamwarwa is about 19 kilometres away from Chibok town.

More to follow…

Boko Haram seizes Baga, five other towns in Borno

Boko Haram now controls Nigerian land space as the military has been pushed back from Baga and neighboring villages in the Lake Chad axis of Northern Borno State, North East Nigeria, multiple sources and fleeing residents say.

Sources said there were no more military presence in Baga as they were forced to retreat by the rampaging Boko Haram insurgents who attacked their bases on Wednesday, December 26.

Some of the residents of Baga who fled to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, after last Wednesday’s attack told our correspondents that the insurgents drove into the area in a large convoy and after several hours of gunfire drove the military away.

Abba Masta, one of the fleeing residents of Baga said: “The insurgents, driving in a convoy of more than ten fighter vehicles, used the main road from Kros Kawwa to launch coordinated attacks on the military on Wednesday, December 26.

“They overran the Multinational Joint Task Force ‎Headquarters at the outskirts of Baga, a naval fighting base and a Marine Police base in the area.”

According to him, the first point of call of the insurgents was the heavily fortified base of the multinational forces located at Mile Four (an area outside Baga town). The attack was in the early evening.

He said they met a stiff opposition as the exchange of fire lasted until midnight when the military retreated and the insurgents moved into the base which was in ruins.

Buba Ibrahim, another fleeing resident, said the military returned the next day, Thursday, with fighter jets which bombed the multinational force’s base and killed many insurgents who were still celebrating their perceived victory.

A Nigerian soldier who is with the multinational force, said the bombardment of the Base was to destroy the ammunition so that they won’t be of use to the insurgents.

He confirmed on Monday that the base and the rest of Baga is still in the hands (control) of the insurgents.

The insurgents on Thursday according to the fleeing residents, turned their searchlight on Mile Three, where the Navy had a fighting base, close to the military. They attacked the Navy who put up a stiff resistance but eventually lost control after hours of gun fight. They (Naval officers) were said to have escaped to Monguno.

The insurgents were said to have continued to maraud the area and on Friday, moved to another naval base located about three kilometres north of Baga, an area called Fish Dam on shores of the Lake Chad.

They took over the base after a fierce battle with about 40 naval men fleeing to Kaiga, a riverine community in the Republic of Chad.

The insurgents finally entered Baga town and attacked a marine police station, which fell easily.

Abba Mohammed said they told the already fear-stricken residents of the town that they were not after them but rather the military, security, and members of the armed civilian JTF.

They told us that: “You have a choice to stay or to freely leave the town,” but the majority of us sensing that the military may come back to engage them took the option of leaving.

He said about 2,000 residents trekked 60 kilometres to Monguno through a bush path.

He said some soldiers including the Commander of the Multinational force, some of his troops, and members of the civilian JTF joined them in the journey to Monguno.

He said, “Our knowledge of the terrain was useful to the military to get safe to Monguno.”

He lamented, “As I am talking to you, Boko Haram has seized Baga, Doron-Baga, Kross Kawwa, Bunduran, Kekeno and Kukawa towns of Borno State.”

The attack and perhaps takeover of the town was confirmed in a statement by the military.

The military had in a statement on Sunday said there was an ongoing plan to relocate the residents of Baga.

The military said the planned relocation is to give room for a massive bombardment of the terrorist group and to prevent civilian casualties.

The military revealed the plan in a signed statement by the Deputy Director of Public Relations in charge of the counter-insurgency operations in the North East ( Operation Lafiya Dole), Col. Onyema Nwachukwu.

The statement said: “Operation LAFIYA DOLE troops in conjunction with Borno State Government are working towards relocating the residents of Baga, to safer locations in view of the ongoing military operations in the area.”

The statement, however, said that there was no basis for the people of Bama, Dikwa, and Monguno to vacate their respective communities as there was no immediate threat to them.

It said: It has been observed that some unscrupulous individuals with likely sinister motives within and outside Borno State are trying to create panic and unnecessary humanitarian problems for undisclosed reasons.

“It has come to our attention that these people are plotting to instigate the inhabitants of Bama, Dikwa and Monguno communities to abandon their communities and relocate to Internally Displaced Persons Camps for undisclosed reasons.”

The statement advised: The inhabitants of these towns and the general public to discountenance such calls and remain calm.

It promised that: “Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE and other Security Agencies will shed more light on the issue in a Security Council meeting with the Borno State Government, scheduled to hold on Monday 31st December 2018.”

It urged the members of the public to remain calm, stating that “the military is in firm control to guarantee their safety and security.”

The statement, however, warned that any attempt to cause further panic through this false alarm would be viewed very seriously.

The military further revealed on Monday that though there is ongoing military operation in Baga, the Maiduguri-Monguno road remains opened.

Corruption in Military responsible for faltering B’Haram war — Report

Massive corruption among top military chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari is the reason Nigeria is losing the war against Boko Haram, the Defense and Foreign Affairs has revealed in its Special Analysis released on December 28.

The Defense and Foreign Affairs reports are published by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) based in the United States of America. ISSA is a Washington-based non-governmental organisation with a worldwide membership of professionals involved in national and international security and strategic policy.

The association, in 1998, took over publication of the Defense and Foreign Affairs publishing and information group, which began in 1972, providing strategic information and analysis to governments worldwide. It also incorporates the Global Information System (GIS), an encrypted on-line intelligence service for governments.

President of ISSA, Gregory Copley, told THISDAY yesterday night that their analyses were not released to the public but to governments the organisation had affiliation with. Investigation shows that not less than 160 countries have some form of affiliation to the organisation’s reports.

Asked specifically if the organisation had any affiliation with Nigeria, Coley, replied, “All I can say is that our report go to all countries we have some form of affiliation with. I will not comment on specific cases.”

The report obtained by THISDAY is damning and blames corruption among higher ups in the military high command for the faltering war against Boko Haram. Extracts from the analysis stated that at present, the Nigerian government had completely and comprehensively lost control of the engagement with Boko Haram and could show no instance when the government presently had tactical, theater, strategic, or information dominance of any aspect of the conflict.
According to the report, the insurgent groups grow stronger, and the government forces grow weaker and more beset by morale collapse.

It said, “It is fair to say that the Nigerian intelligence community itself is no longer sure what groups even comprise ‘Boko Haram’, nor has it addressed the international logistical, ideological, and support aspects contributing to the ongoing viability of the groups.”

The report stated that the leadership of the military, rather than concentrating on how to defeat the insurgents, were preoccupied with how to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption that had taken place on the pretext of fighting Boko Haram.

Excerpts from the report states as follows, “The conflict will almost certainly prove the undoing of the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 16, 2019, presidential elections.

“Despite this, the only significant engagement which the Nigerian military leadership — up to and including the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. (rtd.) Mohammed Babagana Monguno – seems to prioritise is the fight to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption, running into the equivalent of several billions of dollars, in the purchase by senior military officers of major military capital goods and military consumables, including the troops’ own food.

“The conduct of the war in the North is tied to the corruption in the military, and Buhari — ring-fenced by his own team — is unable to tackle the issue.

“His poor health does not help, but he had always (even as a military president, taking office on December 31, 1983) been indecisive and vindictive.

“This ongoing set of characteristics mean that the coming months will be dramatic, even more than the dying days of the preceding administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

“It is significant that Buhari, who received the findings of the commission as much as a year ago, has refused to allow it to be made public and he, through National Security Adviser Monguno, has attempted to have the commission disband.

“However, it is believed that Monguno and Buhari are aware that copies of the report are beyond their reach and could be released unofficially if further attempts are made to assassinate commission members.

“The commission, investigating defense procurement from 2007 onwards, made significant strides which were initially accepted by the Buhari government, until the scope of the inquiry went beyond the period relating to the former government of Pres. Goodluck Jonathan, and began to show corruption patterns extending into officers still serving under President Buhari.”

The report stated that the death of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal (rtd.) Alex Sabundu Badeh (who became Chief of Defence Staff), and that of a former Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Major General Idris Alkali, on September 3, 2018 were not a mere coincidence .

It said, “Given the upsurge in momentum by ‘the highest levels of government’ to stop the findings becoming public from the corruption commission on defense procurement, it is plausible that the attribution of a criminal ‘kidnapping-attempt-gone-wrong’ against the Air Chief Marshal was a convenient excuse to ensure that the victim — Badeh — could not divulge in court the pattern and details of corruption which has grown even more rampant in the current generation of defense leadership.

“On September 3, 2018, the retired Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Idris Alkali, was also killed, ostensibly by a gang of youthful protestors who set up a roadblock near Jos, the capital of Plateau State. His body was discovered on October 31, 2018. And his death was blamed on ‘an irate mob’, who were protesting in the Du-ra-Du community against the September 2, 2018, killing of 11 members of their own community.”

The report further stated, “No significant economic or political progress can be achieved in Nigeria until the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency is resolved. Other insurgencies are also expected to emerge, or re-emerge, particularly in the Niger Delta. And while other pending internal security issues are important, it is on the BH issue that the prestige, credibility, and reliability of Nigeria is assessed by the international community. Thus, all questions of the viability of Nigeria as a candidate for inward foreign direct investment (FDI) and international cooperation are dependent on a resolution of the BH issues.

“Domestically, resolution of the BH issue is a pre-requisite to enabling issues of intra-Nigerian regional equity imbalances to be addressed. Moreover, the credibility of the Federal Government as an arbiter of justice is assessed by the domestic electorate and the world community.

However, the Nigerian Armed Forces have consistently denied any allegation of corruption against the leadership. They have also stated and demonstrated the fact that they are capable of not only stopping the insurgents but rooting them out of the country.

Two days ago, army spokesman, Brig. General Sani Kukasheka Usman, said the nation’s military repelled an attack by the insurgents in Baga, Boro State. According to him, the insurgents on Wednesday, December 26 attacked the 7 Brigade of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), based in Baga, Borno State, about 7pm.

A statement issued by Usman read, “The troops along with their Nigerian Navy counterparts put up a very determined fight to repel the attack throughout the night, while Sector 3 Operation LAFIYA DOLE sent in reinforcement who are in hot pursuit of the terrorists.

“Similarly, a Search and Rescue team has been constituted.

“The Nigerian Air Force component has also been mobilised and are engaging the fleeing terrorists. Unfortunately, a naval personnel was killed in action. So far, no further details of casualties yet as efforts are ongoing to clear the terrorists hiding in Baga and environs.”

Air Force neutralises bandits’ hideout in Zamfara

The Nigerian Air Force said the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation DIRAN MIKIYA successfully neutralised bandits hideout at a compound West of Tsamari in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

He explained that the attack was conducted at dawn on December 28, following intelligence reports indicating that the compound was being used by the bandits as a camp from where they launch attacks on innocent civilians.

Accordingly, the ATF detailed a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, which confirmed the presence of bandits armed with high calibre weapons at the location.

“Consequently, an Alpha Jet aircraft was dispatched to strike the compound, recording direct hits on the target area and resulting in significant damage to the structures and neutralisation of some bandits.

“This was later confirmed by credible human intelligence sources,’’ he said.

Daramola said surface troops later invaded the compound and recovered some motorcycles abandoned by the fleeing criminals.

“The ATF working in concert with surface forces and other security agencies, will continue to conduct reconnaissance and air interdiction missions with a view to restoring normalcy to the affected states in the North-West”.

BREAKING: Local hunters ‘chase’ Boko Haram fighters from Yobe town

Suspected Boko Haram fighters who invaded Buni- Gari, a town in Yobe state, got more than they bargained for when some hunters engaged them in a fierce battle on Sunday.

A resident of the town who disclosed this to TheCable said the insurgents struck around 5pm.

He said though soldiers were not on ground when the attack was launched, the hunters succeeded in forcing the insurgents to beat a retreat.

Another source said though the insurgents have been sent out of the town, Buni-Gari has been deserted.

“Many have fled to nearby Buni-Yadi over the fear that Boko Haram members might regroup and launch a deadlier attack,” he said.

“Buni-Yadi is more secure than Buni-Gari. There are soldiers there.”

More to follow…

Boko Haram sacks military bases carts away guntrucks, ammunition

 

Boko Haram sacked two military bases in northeast Nigeria overnight as the jihadist fighters battle for control of a strategic town on Lake Chad, military sources said Thursday.

Jihadists from the IS-supported Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) overran a naval base and a multinational joint task force (MNJTF) post in the fishing town of Baga after a fierce battle, the sources told AFP.

Boko Haram has repeatedly struck military outposts in the region in recent months. Fighters in several vehicles stormed Baga and engaged troops in intense fighting at the MNJTF base which hosts units from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The insurgents also sacked a naval base in Mile 3 which lies five kilometres from Baga, a military source who asked not to be identified told AFP.

“The troops were overpowered and forced to withdraw,” the source, adding that “the terrorists carted away guntrucks, ammunition and multiple rocket launchers from the base.”

Troops from the two bases withdrew to another naval base at Fish Dam on the shores of Lake Chad, the military source said. That base was well secured, and resisted several attempts by Boko Haram fighters to overrun it, the source added.

The jihadists then retreated and the troops decided not to pursue them to avoid running into an ambush, a strategy Boko Haram often employs against the military, the officer said.

Nigerian army spokesman Sani Usman confirmed the attack in a statement which said the assault began at about 7:00 pm local time (1800 GMT).

“The troops along with their Nigerian Navy counterparts put up a very determined fight” all night, he said, adding that one navy personnel was killed.

Troop reinforcements were in pursuit of the Boko Haram fighters, he said.

Residents of the regional capital Maiduguri reported seeing six fighter jets flying towards Baga on Thursday.

In January 2015, Boko Haram overran the MNJTF base and took control of Baga after killing hundreds of residents and forcing thousands to flee to Maiduguri.

The town was later retaken, but jihadists continue to attack the military and civilians in the area, which is an ISWAP stronghold. Its fighters occupy camps on many islands in Lake Chad.

Boko Haram’s nine-year insurgency has killed 27,000 people and displaced two million others, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

The fighting has also spilled into Nigeria’s northern neighbours Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Borno residents flee as soldiers, Boko Haram fighters exchange fire

Residents of Molai, a village four kilometers off Maiduguri, Borno state capital, are currently on the run following a heavy gunfire between soldiers and Boko Haram fighters.

A resident told TheCable that the army has mobilised troops to the area to repel the fighters who struck 45 minutes ago.

Molai is the only village in that axis where there has been no insurgent attack in the last two months. Dalori, Konduga, Dala Shuwa, Dala Karamsu, Mammanti, Zabarmari, all surrounding villages, have been attacked recently.

There have been concerns over resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in Borno.

On Friday, insurgents invaded Gudumbali, Guzamala local government area of the state, dislodging soldiers and carting away gun trucks.

Some of the soldiers affected in the operation, the third in the last one month, are currently taking refuge at a military location in Damasak, a nearby town.

One day later, at least 12 farmers were killed during an invasion on Zabarmari community.

Speaking on Sunday, Audu Zabarmari, a resident of the area, said: “Boko Haram jihadists have killed 7 farmers in the Zabarmari rice farm on Saturday.

“We discovered additional five dead bodies today and several other farmers are still missing.”

Audu said he could not ascertain the number of people killed as the search was still ongoing.

In what seem to be intensified attacks on farmers, the insurgents have reportedly killed not less than 40 farmers and destroyed more than 200 hectares of farmland in the last two months.

While the military said it has intensified efforts to end the attacks, Abubakar Elkanemi, shehu of Borno, recently raised the alarm over Boko Haram siege.

“Nobody can dare move out of Maiduguri by 10 kilometres without being confronted, attacked by Boko Haram,” he had said when President Muhammadu Buhari visited last month.

“Quite a number of farmers are being killed and kidnapped on a daily basis around Molai General Area, which is just 10 kilometres away from the metropolis, along Maiduguri -Damboa -Biu road.”

‘I pulled off this dirty uniform and fled’ — soldier speaks on deadly Boko Haram attack

One of the soldiers who escaped the deadly attack on the military formation in Metele in Borno state on November 18 has narrated how he escaped.

Over 100 soldiers attached to 157 task force battalion were reportedly killed in the attack while the armoury at the formation was looted.

The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The soldier who spoke off the record said more than 100 of his colleagues fled the attack.

The soldier accused the military authorities of lying to the public about the insurgency in the north-east, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to act.

“Most of our people dropped their arms and pulled off this dirty uniform… the bodies of our troops littered everywhere but we watched the news and heard army headquarters saying troops repelled the attack,” he told TheCable.

“The army chief and other generals only sit in Abuja and lie to Nigerians whereas soldiers are being killed on daily basis. We lack manpower but nobody is telling the president the truth.

“The president should demand the whereabouts of all the soldiers deployed to Operation Last Hold to fight Boko Haram under Major General Abbah Dikko. The answer is, all of them have been crushed by Boko Haram and their new weapons and arms are what the Boko Haram is using to attack us. Please, help us tell Mr. President that the service chiefs are just lying to him.”

Another soldier said he and his colleagues engaged the insurgents in a gun battle for 40 minutes but they eventually ran out of ammunition.

He said troops at the formation were alerted about the attack one hour before the insurgents struck.

“Our commander, Lieutenant Colonel Sakaba told us to prepare for battle after being briefed by one of our soldiers whose duty is to monitor what is coming from distance,” he said.

“We engaged the terrorists for over 40 minutes before we ran out of ammunition on that very Sunday. They were well equipped and armed with rocket propelled grenades, more than 12 gun trucks mounted with anti-air craft shooting at us from a long range.

“Some of us ran out of bullets and they overpowered us, we fled but those who could not escape were slaughtered like chicken.

“Our formation is surrounded by big trenches and barbed wires, which became a trap and made it difficult for them to escape. I watched many of my fellow friends die helplessly in cold blood.”

Another soldier who wants to be identified at “God’s child”, said it was a miracle that they survived the onslaught.

Terrorists ambush Melete attack evacuation troops, seize gun trucks, captain

A week after the fighters of the Islamic State West African Province, ISWAP attacked the Nigerian Army 157 Battalion’s base in Metele, Borno State, scores of dead and missing soldiers had yet to be located as air assets have been deployed in the area for search and rescue, according to military sources.

Also, troops have found it difficult to evacuate the decomposing bodies of soldiers who were brutally killed by the terrorists in the attack on the Metele military base last Sunday.

A military source said on Saturday that the troops that were sent to evacuate the remains of the slain soldiers were attacked by the insurgents and had to beat a tactical withdrawal.

The source said, “As of yesterday, around 10am, troops from 7 Brigade Baga went to Kangarwa 119 Task Force Battalion Defence Company’s location to recover three armoured tanks. They were ambushed and the insurgents carted away the tanks.

The source, who lamented that the morale among the soldiers was at an all-time low, said the bodies of those killed in Sunday’s attack on Metele were already decomposing in the bushes as the insurgents had continued to lay siege to the community.

“The corpses of those killed in Metele are still not evacuated and the soldiers that went for the evacuation were 147. They were attacked at the entrance to Metele,” said the source who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity.

“A captain was captured alive by the insurgents; the insurgents killed six soldiers from the company with seven soldiers still missing.”

He said apart from human loss, “the soldiers that went for the evacuation lost a battle tank and a gun truck to the insurgents.”

On the loss during the initial siege to Metele, he said, “Last Sunday’s attack on Metele, on the 157 Task Force Battalion, Metele, led to the loss of six officers and 56 soldiers, the eagle battle tanks, APC, riffles, mortars and bombs were all taking away by the insurgents.”

He said the company was able to evacuate six corpses in spite of the ambush.

Army breaks silence on fatal ambush of soldiers — but keeps mum on casualty figure

The Nigerian army has commented on the Boko Haram attacks on Nigerian soldiers, the most recent in Metele, Borno state.

The deadly attack on the 157 task force battalion stationed in Metele left scores of soldiers dead while some are still missing.

Some estimates put the casualty figure at over 100, but the army while commenting on Friday, failed to divulge the death toll.

The army’s statement read: “The attention of the NA has been drawn to several social media, print, electronic and online publications about the recent attack on 157 Task Force Battalion at Metele. Whilst it is true that there was an attack on the location on 18 November 2018, it has however, become necessary to correct several misinformation being circulated with regards to this unfortunate event.

“It is important for the public to note that the NA has laid down procedures for reporting incidents that involve its personnel who fall casualty in action. Out of respect for the families of our gallant troops, the NOKs are first notified before any form of public information so as to avoid exacerbating the grief family members would bear, were they to discover such from unofficial sources.

“Furthermore, it suffices to observe that several social media, print and online publications have been brandishing false casualty figures as well as circulating various footages of old and inaccurate BHT propaganda videos and alluding same to be the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion. Whilst it is understandable how such misinformation can spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists; to misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not. So far, the situation is that the location is under control as reinforcing units have been able to repel the terrorists and stabilize the situation.

“The NA sincerely wishes to thank the various arms of government, MDAs and sister security agencies that have stood with her in these trying times; by commiserating with the families of the fallen heroes who have paid the supreme price for the defence of our dearly beloved country. The necessary support being given the NA by the Federal Government and the goodwill of the Nigerian populace will undoubtedly continue to spur the NA towards the ultimate defeat of the highly degraded BHTs.”

Following the latest attack, President Muhammadu Buhari dispatched Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, for an emergency meeting with Chadian President Idris Deby.

Boko Haram kidnaps 15 girls in Niger Republic

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped 15 girls overnight in a village near Toumour, south-eastern Niger, the local mayor said on Saturday.

Boukar Mani Orthe, the mayor of the town in Niger’s Diffa region near the border with Nigeria, said about 50 unidentified armed men seized the girls in a village about nine kilometres from the town centre.

On Thursday suspected Boko Haram fighters killed eight people working at French drilling company Foraco’s water well site in Toumour.

Boko Haram has been waging an insurrection since 2009 aimed at establishing an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria. It has launched repeated attacks into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes in the large Lake Chad basin region.

Kidnapping of schoolgirls has been a Boko Haram horror mark, since its fighters in 2014 kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in Nigeria.

It also staged this year, another major kidnap of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe state.

In Mali, French forces said they “put out of action” some 30 Islamist militants, possibly including veteran Malian jihadist leader Amadou Koufa, during a raid in the central Mali region of Mopti.

The French army, which has about 4,500 troops in West Africa battling Islamist militants, did not specify whether the jihadists had all been killed or taken prisoner. The operation took place with air support on Thursday night, it said.

“At this stage of the evaluation of the operation, it appears that about 30 terrorists were put out of action,” the army said in its statement on Friday, adding that Koufa and other prominent militants were probably among them.

Koufa, a radical preacher, inspired the Massina Liberation Front (MLF), a group blamed for a wave of attacks that has shifted Mali’s six-year-old Islamist insurgency from the remote desert north ever closer to its populous south.

Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram release video, lament obsolete weapons, accuse commanders of corruption

Some Nigerian soldiers in a video obtained on Friday accused top commanders of leading them to ‘Boko Haram slaughter’ armed with obsolete weapons while enriching themselves with cash meant for buying better arms.
The hazy video, apparently taken from a camera phone, featured the soldiers expressing their anger in harsh tones.

An army officer in Borno said many of the soldiers in the video were killed in the latest Boko Haram attack on Metele, according to a report by Premium Times.

That has, however, not been independently verified.

In the video, the soldiers claimed their top commanders are using the Boko Haram war as an enterprise to enrich themselves at the expense of their lives.

The five minutes and 51 seconds video was, according to inside military sources, made shortly after troops prosecuting the Boko Haram war in the northern part of Borno State suffered a devastating attack at their location in Metele village on October 8.

The military admitted the attack then but downplayed the tragedy saying the situation had been contained and terrorists pushed back.

Weeks later, however, the same location was attacked again by Boko Haram.

Premium Times had published reports on the last Sunday attack in which over 100 soldiers died.

This newspaper also published a story from a disturbing video released by Boko Haram detailing how a previous attack happened.

The army on Friday, five days after the attack, released a statement admitting the latest Meteor attack but refused to provide official casualty figure.

The army is, however, yet to speak on this video by the soldiers and its spokesperson could not be reached at the time of this report.

The military has however said in the past that it was committed to the welfare of its soldiers and was doing its best to provide best weapons for them.

Although the army and other security agencies have demanded improved funding, army chief,  Lt. Gen  Tukur Buratai, who has visited the battlefronts in the North-east several times, has also repeatedly charged soldiers and their commanders to show more commitment in defending Nigerian territory against terrorists and other armed groups.

Worried about the rising cases of missing soldiers in Boko Haram attack, Mr Buratai issued a warning to troops on the battlefront against fleeing from insurgents in August, threatening errant personnel with a tough prosecution.

The Defence Headquarters announced last week it had taken new delivery of military equipment, boasting of a tough time ahead for insurgents.

The video by the aggrieved soldiers showed them displaying most of their war vehicles which they said were not only obsolete but unserviceable.

The soldiers said despite huge resources released by the government for the purpose of buying modern armament for the troops, the Nigeria military only supplies them with obsolete weapons, “that can’t stand any good fight with Boko Haram.”

They were heard saying in the video that their military commanders are using them to “make money” by deploying war tanks that have outlived their usefulness.

The soldiers said many of their colleagues were killed by the insurgents who also seized arms and ammunition.

Most of the soldiers – about 147 of them – that were featured in the video – died in the latest attack, a military source informed PREMIUM TIMES. This is yet to be independently verified.

Anger

Different muffled voices of soldiers spoke in the clips as they lamented the way their colleagues were killed.

“We are Nigerian soldiers dumped here in the middle of the desert. See how the Nigeria military is treating us. This place has just been attacked; see our fellow soldiers how they are burnt alive inside Hilux vans. They are using us to make money; why is it so? Are we not human beings?”

The soldiers said the Boko Haram attackers also went away with some high calibre motorised weapons like multiple rocket launchers, called 40-Barrel.

PREMIUM TIMES checks reveal that 40-barrel officially known as BM-21, is one of the world’s deadliest war weapon.

On wheels, it can launch up to 40 122mm rockets in 20 seconds, at ranges up to 20km. It is designed to deliver its deadly ammunition over an area rather than a point

“This is the place the Boko Haram came to take away 40-barrel,” the soldiers said.

“Look at how MRAP (mine resistant ambush protection) vehicles were destroyed. If RPG can penetrate MRAP, is it we human beings that it cannot destroy?”

The soldiers, who were deployed to Metele shortly after the October 8 attack, said about 147 of them were on the ground at the time they were shooting the video.

“We are 147 soldiers deployed here now, and they want to come and waste us. We will not accept that. Our blood is not meant to be spilt here; we are going to report to the federal government that we are using old war vehicles.”

The soldiers were seen in the video taking inventory of the number of war vehicles destroyed by the Boko Haram.

“This is T72 war tank that Albarnawi group came to destroy. Why are they using us to make money? We need the federal government to interfere (intervene) before they allow that terrorist called Albarnawi to come and kill us. He is being taken everywhere to collect money and then coming here to kill us.

“The federal government should come to our aid, these people (commanders) said we are nothing but zombies who don’t know our rights. But what they don’t know is that we are millennium soldiers, learned soldiers, not Oluyole (fake); we are not 63 NA soldiers, we are not 79 NA soldiers; most of us are graduates here.

“This is another T12 that was destroyed during the attack. Even the T12 tanks are very obsolete because they were procured during the regime of (Shehu) Shagari. These T12 war tanks were manufactured in 1983 in Slovakia.

“The equipment is not working; once you fire two rounds, you have to stop the engine to let it cool down; and before it could pick up again, Boko Haram would have entered and caused havoc. We have nothing protecting us here except some sand parapet and barbed wire. This place Metele is the exact place they killed troops of the Operation Last Hold.

“Despite all the money the federal government gave them they could not buy modern weapons, all they could do was to refurbish 1983 vehicles. The federal government gave them money to buy the best vehicles but the Nigeria army is here busy buying locally made like Innoson vehicles.”

Danger of 40-Barrel In Hands Of Boko Haram

A soldier with expertise on ballistics told PREMIUM TIMES that the 40-barrel in the hands of the terrorists is a tragedy waiting to explode.

“It does not only deliver 40 missiles to a range of 20km, rather, when a full blast of 40 warheads are fired, it spreads and covers a lethal area of about 600m x 600m, and on impact, they can produce a substantial fragmentation effect.

“Our prayer is that we retrieve the weapon or get its location and destroy it or the terrorists should not have the technical know-how of operating it, because it is highly technical to operate,” said the soldier who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Senate halts plenary in honour 44 soldiers killed by Boko Haram

The Senate on Thursday halted plenary session in honour of 44 soldiers killed by members of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram.

This came amid the decision of the Senate to investigate the immediate cause of the success recorded by the terrorists, which led to the death of the 44 soldiers in Borno State.

Boko Haram had killed 44 soldiers and nine farmers in three days of attacks on some villages in Borno State.

According to the report, which quoted security sources, the Islamic State West Africa Province, a Boko Haram splinter group, killed at least 44 soldiers in attacks on three military bases at the weekend.

The Senate resolution came through a contribution by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on the point of order raised by Senator Ibrahim Danbaba alleging that there is disconnection between the Senate Committee on Army and the Nigerian Army.

The lawmakers also observed one minute silence in hour of the slain soldiers.

In addition, the Senate implored the Military hierarchy to be visiting the soldiers on the war front from time to time.

Soldiers killed, missing as Boko Haram overruns army battalion in Borno

The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) faction of Boko Haram reportedly attacked 157 task force battalion of the Nigerian army in Maitile, Borno.

More than 10 soldiers were killed while the insurgents carted away ammunition and other military equipment.

A military source explained that the insurgents forcefully gained access into the military base around 5pm on Sunday. The source said some soldiers who stood to fight the insurgents were killed and others have gone missing.

“The soldiers were outnumbered and outpowered,” the source said.

Another officer said they heard of the attack on Monday evening.

“We are presently in Mubi, but we heard of the Abadam attack. There is no network at the moment in Abadam and it’s been difficult reaching the troops there,” he said.

There were also reports that the commanding officer of the battalion was killed in the attack.

“We heard that a senior officer was killed, I can’t confirm yet if it is the commanding officer,” the source added.

The attack is coming barely three weeks after soldiers went missing in a similar attack at the military base in Kukawa.

Texas Chukwu, army spokesman, did not answer calls placed to his phone, and he’s yet to respond to the message seeking clarification on the attack.