Is Nigeria Nearing Denouement Of Terror Attacks?

By Emmanuel Onwubiko 
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A fact that is indisputable is that in terms of demography, the youngsters who are in their 40s or less are in the majority statistically when a computational headcount of Nigerians are drawn up. These huge numbers of contemporary Nigerians who have graduated from college and are working in both the private and public sectors have not witnessed any war. The first real experience they are having is the terrorists attacks by Boko haram terrorists. The war on terror has cost this age group a lot because they are mostly the foot soldiers executing the war at the war fronts.

So if there is one problem the clear majority of Nigerians would want it to disappear over night then it is the consistently well coordinated violent attacks on the infrastructures and people of Nigeria by the armed Islamists known as Boko Haram terrorists.

The knowledge that the armed terrorists are still pulling strings of vicious attacks targeting mostly civilian populations and destroying communities and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians in the North East of Nigeria is a huge nightmare not just for those who live in that expansive landmass but for the rest of Nigeria.

The reason for drawing this conclusion is that the continuous deployment of massive numbers of armed soldiers to confront the terrorists cost the nation a lot of human and material resources and to make it worst this war on terror has gone on for ten Years now and it was beginning to appear like a lost cause before the unthinkable happened and this scenario that would have far reaching implications has been widely reported by international news channels just as the action has elicited varying degrees of debates.

This development I chose to classify as unthinkable is so because it was simply out of the blues then came the wonderful news to the effect that the Chadian army has killed 1,000 fighters during an operation against the Boko Haram armed group in the Lake Chad border region. The Chadian Army equally gained a lot of media mileage from international news organizations going by the fact that the boko haram terrorists and other Islamic State's affiliated terror gangs waging war on Nigeria and a few other African nations have managed to enter the Guiness book of World's record as the third deadliest terrorists and mass murderers in the global community. It follows therefore that developments springing up around the theatre of the war on terror would normally be widely reported in the Western media.

It was in that light that the Chadian Army spokesman Colonel Azem Bermendoa Agouna told the AFP news agency that 52 troops died during the operation, which was launched on March 31.

"A thousand terrorists have been killed, 50 motorised canoes have been destroyed," the colonel said, referring to a large boat also called a pirogue.

Agouna said the operation, which was launched after nearly 100 soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack last month, ended on Wednesday after the armed fighters were forced out of the country.

The news reporter stated that it is the first official snapshot of the outcome of Operation Bohoma Anger, launched after at least 92 soldiers were killed on March 23 in the deadliest-ever attack by Boko Haram on the country's military forces. The armed group had mounted a seven-hour assault on a Chadian army base at Bohoma.

Reporting from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris said: "The country is trying to help other regional powers and regional forces under a group called the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to finally defeat the Boko Haram."

"A similar operation was conducted five years ago, in 2015, that decimated the Boko Haram population. They have regrouped since then, and attacked and killed several thousands in the process and regional armies in the Lake Chad area have been struggling to deal with the problem," Idris added.

Lake Chad is a vast, marshy body of water where the borders of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon meet.

There is also a trending topic that the Army of Chad has shouldered all the responsibilities of combating the boko haram insurgency. I doubted this side of the information but a report actually quoted the President of Chad of making that statement which may not represent the exact facts and figures behind this war on terror which usually is not fought by just one nation going by the obvious facts that the terrorists had since expanded their attacks to virtually all West African nations neighbouring Nigeria from the Northern flanks. All the same we read that the Chadian leader said his nation is doing more than its fair share of the war on terror.

"Chad is alone in shouldering all the burden of the war against Boko Haram," President Idriss Deby reported said to the media last weekend.

The same news reporter then asserted that: "It is not clear if this will be the end or the beginning of the end of Boko Haram in the region.

Many experts the news channel said, believe it is going to be very difficult to say that Boko Haram is defeated or will be defeated anytime soon because this is an ideology that has taken foothold for more than a decade in Nigeria which is spilling into its neighbours". Towards the conclusion of this reflection, we will address this issue of whether terrorism can be defeated or not drawing inspiration from what some thinker stated about the experiences of the United States of America in the fight against terrorism.

As i had stated earlier, I do not believe that Chad is alone in this effort to end the reign of terrorism in West AFRICA. This is because the same news channel that quoted the President of Chad as saying that his nation shoulders the counter terror war effort alone also reported that Niger Republic also contributed to the latest rounds of massive counter terror battles launched against boko haram terrorists.

The news channel stated that Separately, in Niger, the defence ministry in Niamey said its armed forces, in a joint operation with Chad, had inflicted "heavy losses" on Boko Haram in the lake region.

"Arms caches, logistical points and several boats were destroyed" and islands used as rear bases in the lake's marshland were "bombarded from the air," it said.

Reportedly, landlocked Niger is facing attacks by armed group on opposite ends of the country - fighting that has spilled over from neighbouring Mali, and raids in the Lake Chad region by Boko Haram fighters.

Boko Haram's 11-year-old campaign has claimed tens of thousands of lives in northeast Nigeria and driven nearly two million people from their homes says Aljazeera. This estimate is low.

Interestingly, few days after the Chadian soldiers launched a successful military campaign around the Lake Chad area targeting boko haram terrorists, the Nigerian Army Chief immediately relocated to the North East of Nigeria to personally coordinate what he calls the final phase in the war on terror.

Don't forget that the last time the multinational Joint military taskforce attacked boko haram terrorists in 2015, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai who is now Nigeria's Army Chief was the commander of that Multinational military taskforce based in Chad. It is therefore a little bit of an exaggeration to think that the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai was simply mimicking the President of Chad and then claim that this is the reason he has relocated to the theatre of war in the North East of Nigeria. Far from it. He is a vastly experienced war General who leads from the battlegrounds.

Also it would be recalled that Before the Army of Chad performed the superlative military objective of decimating over 1000 boko haram terrorists, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff saw it coming when he continuously told newsman that the end of boko haram terrorists is imminent.

Soon after Chad struck, the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has landed in the North East of Nigeria and as can be seen from information filtering out of the battlegrounds, the Nigerian Army is having the upper hand and these successes have compelled the framing of the question whether the end has come for Nigeria's most challenging nightmare since the last 60 years which is the boko haram terrorists attacks which have killed well over 30,000 CIVILIANS and destroyed the livelihoods of over 3 million Nigerian citizens who are now internally and externally displaced and refugees.

Few hours back, our eyes were delighted with the wonderful story that key boko haram terrorists and their leaders have been decimated including nearly 105 elements of the TERROR group.

The media reported that several key Boko Haram Terrorists/ISWAP leaders have been killed in multiple air strikes conducted by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole at Durbada in Borno, the Defence Headquarters has said.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, added that structures belonging to the terrorists were also destroyed.

Enenche disclosed that the operation, which was executed on April 17, came on the heels of credible human intelligence reports.

He said that the intelligence was confirmed by series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions and indicated that the settlement was one of the locations where some of the terrorists’ hierarchy often hibernate.

According to him, the fighter jets dispatched by the Air Task Force took turns in attacking the location scoring accurate hits within the target area which resulted in the death of some of the terrorists.

“Others, who were seen attempting to flee the area were taken out in follow-on attacks.

“The Armed Forces of Nigeria, in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East, will sustain the offensive against the enemies of our nation,” he said. (NAN).

As citizens who in the last eleven years have passed through nightmarish attacks and blood cuddling violence of the TERROR gangsters, I think our major concern should not be the wasting of energy in speculating whether it was the Chadian President that ended the reign of the terrorists or the Nigerian Army. What should be our preoccupation is to show positive solidarity with the Nigerian Army to come out victorious in no distant time so the era of uncertainty caused by the massive terror campaign can be said to be over and is over. We will turn our attention to the question if the terrorists and terrorism in the North East of Nigeria can be defeated.

But first, let us debunk a fallacy that has trended for some times now in the grapevine that some Military Generals in Nigeria have commercialised the war on terror.

It is practically impossible to create the impression that the current Army Chief who has introduced a lot of innovations and built many giant projects for the institution of the Army including the University sited in Borno state will not want the boko haram insurgency to come to an end because of some pecuniary reasons.

This is perhaps the most outrageous conspiracy to come from the pit of hell to think that someone who has spent over three decades fighting to make Nigeria great and has earned one of the most prestigious professional rank could descend so low as not to want a war that has costs Nigeria several fighters or combatants and billions of dollars to end and more so when this same person is from a place considered as the frontline of this TERROR attacks which means that his people are directly the most affected victims of this ten year old war. This fake news is as ridiculous as it can ever be. We will conclude by looking at what winning a war on terror should mean.

Philip H.Gordon writing on the theme: "Can the war on terror be won? How to fight the right war, published in thus: "Almost entirely missing from this debate is a concept of what "victory" in the war on terror would actually look like. The traditional notion of winning a war is fairly clear: defeating an enemy on the battlefield and forcing it to accept political terms. But what does victory -- or defeat -- mean in a war on terror? Will this kind of war ever end? How long will it take? Would we see victory coming? Would we recognize it when it came?

He then afformed that: "It is essential to start thinking seriously about these questions, because it is impossible to win a war without knowing what its goal is. Considering possible outcomes of the war on terror makes clear that it can indeed be won, but only with the recognition that this is a new and different kind of war."

Victory he said will come not when foreign leaders accept certain terms but when political changes erode and ultimately undermine support for the ideology and strategy of those determined to destroy the United States.

"It will come not when Washington and its allies kill or capture all terrorists or potential terrorists but when the ideology the terrorists espouse is discredited, when their tactics are seen to have failed, and when they come to find more promising paths to the dignity, respect, and opportunities they crave. It will mean not the complete elimination of any possible terrorist threat -- pursuing that goal will almost certainly lead to more terrorism, not less -- but rather the reduction of the risk of terrorism to such a level that it does not significantly affect average citizens' daily lives, preoccupy their thoughts, or provoke overreaction".

At that point, as aforementioned he reasoned that even the terrorists will realize their violence is futile. Keeping this vision of victory in mind will not only avert considerable pain, expense, and trouble; it will also guide leaders toward the policies that will bring such a victory about.

I will recommend the above scenarios to the Nigerian political establishments. Also the other angle of bringing justice to the victims of the war by prosecuting and punishing mass murderers must be approached holistically. This is where i think we need to copy the model used in Chad in dealing with the terrorists. Chad has had to use the instrumentality of the law to bring the boko haram terrorists they arrested to face the capital punishment. Nigeria must not convey the impression that it is profitable to wage relentless TERROR war on Nigeria. There should be no negotiations with terrorists.

Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [email protected] ; www.emmanuelonwubikocom; ; [email protected]

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