The war against insurgency in the north eastern part of the country has been, incontrovertibly, fought with doggedness and determination by the armed forces since the insurgency started in 2010.
Orchestrated by the Boko Haram insurgency group, the war has caused devastating and wonton destructions of lives and property across the country, especially in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe; as well as cities such as Kano, Abuja and Kaduna, among others, where there were reports of bombings between 2012 and 2015.
Before now, several local government areas in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe were under the control the insurgents with a “caliphate’’ in Gwoza town in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno.
Similarly, there was the abduction of more than 200 school girls in Chibok which led to the closure of all schools in the affected states.
During the period, markets and business routes such as the famed Baga fish market and the airport were shot down.
But there was a significant turn of the table in the counter-insurgency operation by the military from 2015 with the relocation of the services headquarters to the theatre of operation on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office on May 29, 2015.
Theatre Command North East with Headquarters at Maiduguri was created to coordinate and oversee operations.
Task Force Divisions and the Air Component and Operation Lafiya Dole were also inaugurated to replace the erstwhile Operation Zaman Lafiya in July 2015.
So, in 2016, all the local government areas that were hitherto under the control of the terrorists were liberated by the Nigerian troops.
Similarly, daily bombing activities by the terrorists in areas outside the north eastern part, especially Abuja, Kano State, Kaduna State and Niger, were curtailed to a great extent with the terrorists being contained within their operation area.
Also, since 2016, a number of subsidiary operations has been inaugurated to decimate the terrorists and rid the north eastern part of the country of insurgency.
The tempo of these operations has, however, succeeded in degrading the terrorists leading to the factionalisation of the group which gave birth to the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists led by AlBarnawi.
The steady progress on the platform Operation Lafiya Dole has also resulted in the gradual return of internally displaced persons to their ancestral homes with appreciable level of improvement in the socio-economic activities across the region.
The recent resurgence of the terrorists’ activities with the attendant abductions of some travellers on major roads within the north eastern part, especially on Maiduguri-Damaturu, Maiduguri-Maiduguri-Biu, Maiduguri-Damboa and Damaturu-Damaturu-Biu roads, has necessitated the Nigerian Army to redirect the method of its operations.
To curtail this, the Nigerian Army says a renewed approach has been adopted with vigour to checkmate the terrorists and prevent them from migrating into parts of Yobe and southern Borno with a view to preventing attacks on civilian communities.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has recently inaugurated a new operation known as “Tura Takaibango’’ aimed at taking the war into the enclaves and hideouts of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorist throughout the north eastern part to deal with the insurgents.
In his message to the troops and commanders during the year, Buratai assured the public that Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists would be decimated in 2021, urging troops to continue to show resilience, high level of commitment and loyalty towards eradicating terrorism.
“I am very optimistic that 2021 will be different; totally different with remarkable difference from 2020.
“I want you to see it as a challenge and a task that must be done because we are the one that can do it; Nigerians believe in us and believe that we can do it.
“You should go into the year with full conviction that we can do better to address the insecurity in our country,’’ he said.
Briefing newsmen on “Operation Tura Takaibango’’, the Chief of Training and Operations (Army), Maj.-Gen. Nuhu Angbazo, said that the operation was meant to be theatre-wide, targeting known insurgents’ enclaves/hideouts for neutralisation and clearance with a view to ensure that citizens would be free to move about.
According to him, it is pertinent to note that “Operation Tura Takaibango’’ is set to be another remarkable operation that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well as its commitment to aid the civil authority to bring about lasting peace.
He said that the security, safety and well-being of innocent and law abiding citizens, especially those living in the rural areas had been deliberately factored in the planning of this operation.
He said that the troops taking part in the operation would be guided by the professional code of conduct, rules of engagement and the respect for human rights.
Angbazo also enjoined the public to remain vigilant and be security conscious, saying that suspected terrorists might be fleeing from military operations in those areas to find safe haven in the communities.
According to him, since the operation started on Jan.3, remarkable achievements have been recorded so far.
“Specifically, on Jan. 6, the troops of 402 Special Forces Brigade, made contact in a fierce encounter with the terrorists which resulted in heavy defeat to the terrorists.
He said that the encounter resulted in the killing of 12 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, while one terrorist vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and a gun truck, were destroyed.
“Additionally, one anti-aircraft gun, one general purpose machine gun, 10 AK47 rifles, one hand grenade and large cache of assorted ammunition were captured.
“Similarly, based on credible information of the plan effort of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists to attack Geidam town and neighbouring communities, troops on Operation Tura Takaibango were mobilised to thwart the terrorists’ intention to invade Geidam town thereby preventing loss of lives and property.
In line with the changing tempo of the war, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that more and sophisticated equipment and more troops have been deployed to the various fronts to confront the menace head on.
In his usual way of leading by example, Buratai recently led some principal staff officers and war commanders to the one of the hot spots in Ganiya on Damaturu-Biu road in Yobe, where the Boko Haram terrorists use as crossing point to attack.
He supervised the deployment of the artillery guns and tanks to the route as well as move deep into the interior of the location.
With the current tempo, some achievements have been recorded in the last few days as troops have continued to deny the insurgents freedom of action in their several attempts on some communities.
The Nigerian Army says is optimistic that the new operation would be the deciding factor and the final push to flush out the terrorists from the north east.
Although, the operation has no time line, it has so far recorded tremendous successes as evident in the recent massive raids on the terrorists’ hideouts through both ground and air offensives.
Recent successes against the insurgents include the elimination of scores of Boko Haram terrorists and destruction of 13 of their gun trucks when they attempted to attack troop’s location at the outskirts of Marte in Marte Local Government Area on Dec. 15, 2020 and Dec. 16, 2020.
According to a statement by the Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Benard Onyeuko, the troops, acting on reliable information about the attack, have positioned themselves in an ambush site where they tactically ambush the terrorists in fire-fight with the support of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole in two successive offensives.
Worthy of note is the current enhanced synergy between the land and air components in the fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists as evident in the commendation of the efforts of the air component by Buratai.