US AFRICOM Commander Counters Buhari, Says Boko Haram Still Holds Territory in Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari

Boko Haram is still holding territory in Northern Nigeria, commander of the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM), General David Rodriguez, has said.

General Rodriguez’s claim challenges Nigeria’s official position on the seven-year old insurgency that has so far claimed about 20,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people.

Rodriguez’s assertion comes almost two months after President Muhammadu Buhari told the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, that the terrorist group was no longer “holding any territory as we speak.”

Buhari, who was speaking on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in the UAE, said Nigerian Armed Forces in collaboration with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNTJF) had driven the terrorist group from Nigerian territory into “fall-back positions.”

According to an online news portal, Premium Times, Rodriguez spoke on Tuesday in response to a question during testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee reviewing fiscal year 2017 defence budget.

His comment about Boko Haram was in response to a question by Senator Angus King of Maine who asked about Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram more than 90 minutes into the testimony.

Angus’ direct question to General Rodriguez was: “Is Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram growing, are they adding members? I know they don’t hold territory, are they adding areas of influence?” to which Rodriguez replied, “actually sir, Boko Haram does hold some significant territory in Northern Nigeria as do Al-Shabaab in limited areas of Somalia.”

He added that recently there is a “tactical upswing” in Al-Shabaab’s operations in Somali but did not elaborate on Boko Haram’s operations, adding in his written testimony to the Senate Committee that containing and degrading the ISIL-affiliated Boko Haram remains one of AFRICOM’s top priority.

“We are watching carefully for signs that the threat posed by Boko Haram to US persons is growing as a result of the group’s alignment with ISIL,” Rodriguez said.
He praised MNJTF allies and partners such as the African Union, France, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the Department of State for engaging in the counter-Boko Haram effort.

“Our engagement now can assist our African partners in realizing their potential and gaining the capability to solve African problems,” Rodriguez said. “African solutions to African problems are, in the long run, in the best interest of Africans, Americans, and indeed the world.”

Rodriguez, a four-star general, became the third commander of AFRICOM in April 2013. US Africa Command is one of six unified geographic combatant commands within the United States Department of Defence unified command structure.

He appeared before the Senate committee with Generals Lloyd Austin of US Central Command and Joseph Votel of US Special Operations Command.

General Rodriguez’s testimony came couple weeks after the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade at the US Congress also convened hearings where two policy experts urged the US government to ramp up the push against Boko Haram.

Jennifer Cooke of the Centre for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) and Alice Friend of the Centre for New American Security (CNAS), urged lawmakers to acknowledge and support real advances against Boko Haram that have degraded the group and weakened its leadership over the last 18 months.

  • jakiel

    Lai Mohammed this morning ON RADIO PROGRAM BURGAMI, said Boko Haram No longer controls any part of the N/East which is far from reality(LIES). Also, an APC senator 3 weeks ago was interviewed by Channels TV and he expressly stated that Boko Haram controls half of Borno State while Nigerian military controls half. Now here comes this sad news again from US AFRICOM Commander.
    APC should not be dishing out lies to Nigerians for the fact that they are the ruling PARTY for the next 3years, they are not contesting for Aso Rock until 2019. Therefore, APC has no reason to be lying, it is no time for propaganda but time for Honesty and Hard work as the only panacea for wining 2019 election.
    PMB is being mislead all the time that is why there are always conflicting statements on national issues. AGAIN MY ADVISE TO HIM IS, HE SHOULD BE CONSERVATIVE WITH WORDS AND MORE ADMINISTRATIVE IN RESPONDING TO ISSUES.

  • Auta62

    APC’s lies are gradually being exposed.

  • Artful ºDodger

    Rodriguez spoke from an on the spot position based on old and limited knowledge of the situation in Nigeria and anyone put on the spot under the same circumstances will do the same. He would never have made the same mistake if he was talking about Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria where the American military are very active.

    First of all, (igbos can go and hang)Buhari has never told anyone Boko haram has been completely wiped out of Nigeria. The Talibans still hold territories in Afghanistan to this day, ISIS along with some resistance of the Barth party also do in Iraq. The Americans left without completely wiping out these resistances. So Nigeria cannot be any exception. If anything, the Nigeria military has done very well and deserve commendations and not what some uninformed person somewhere has to say about their gallantry.

    God bless our troop!

    • MikeZen1

      Hahahaha na wa o. This your obsession with Igbos is quite unhealthy. It belies a deep-seated insecurity on your part. Can’t we just stick to the issues at hand??

      You’re right that Buhari never told anyone that Boko Haram has been completely wiped out of Nigeria. But he did say that they hold no territory at all. Clearly that’s up for debate.
      So now US General Rodriguez has “old and limited knowledge”?? That’s laughable. This isn’t our NASS he’s talking to, but the US Congress where he’s under oath. If he says anything that is false, he’d go to jail for perjury. So you can be sure that he was prepared with up-to-date information. You can also be sure that he has access to signals intelligence and real-time satellite imagery of the North-East that even Pres. Buhari & Gen. Buratai don’t have access to. That is why his opinion is credible, coupled with the fact that he has no political reason to lie on the matter.

      Bottom line, we all want these Boko Haram terrorist murderers wiped out. Personally I hope Rodriguez was actually mistaken, and that Buhari was right because that would mean that all our territory is indeed secured. But we need to be objective to discuss these issues properly, and drop the sycophancy and cheap insults. Cheers

    • oduduwa

      These same troops were demoralized by LIE Muhammed when he was opposition but now that they are in governmemt, the army needs support abi. These politicians are the most unpatriotic bunch in the country. Having said that, i support the fact that Buhari should be more economical with words, he never sid boko haram has been wiped out, he said they have been so degraded that they no longer hold territories and that is exactly what the US general has just countered. He said, boko haram still control significant part on the north east.

      Buhari is lied to severally by his information minister and his aids and his protocol people always make him look stupid in interviews. First this saudi arabia coalition thing, he gave conflicting statements within the space of a week etc. Buhari should be more informed.

  • Wesley

    So which LGA or town in Nigeria are they holding? BH is not even holding Sambisa forest anymore. Except the commander is referring to BH bush camps as territories

  • Asuk

    So much lies told Nigerians by the President and his information minister. PROPAGANDA IS SINKING THIS GOVERNMENT.

    • Artful ºDodger

      Since you are from the cursed tribe stupidity run in your blood. Why not take a trip to the North East to verify the situation for yourself instead of waiting for some ill informed person from far away America who has never been to Nigeria to tell you what is going on.

      • kenn

        Ill informed American General? I dey laugh. Yet we ran to them with a wishlist of weapons, and also collected 30 mine resistant APC carriers from the same US government whose general is ill informed.
        Mind you before an ill informed US general said anything, a well informed Senator from one of the districts in Borno already told us the truth. So I wonder why the bad blood against Igbos. Are they boko haram fighters or funders?your bile of hatred and bitterness has reduced your ability to comprehend significantly, look at how you muddle up issues.

        • Asuk

          Thank you Kenn.

      • ben

        Besides, when did these biafran sour grapes start caring about what’s happening in the north east?

        • kenn

          Biafran sour grapes. Unbelievable. What has Biafra got to do with the statement of the supposedly ‘ill-informed’ American General

          • ben

            The comment was actually referring to you and your biafran brothers. But as usual with your kind, you jump the gun with your misguided sentiments before you can comprehend the context of the submission

          • kenn

            Trudge on with your well guided sentiments and uncommon ability to muddle up issues.

          • sam

            Oga, anyone that criticize this govt is either pdp or biafran? You guys are really the distractions this government is having. Any civilized govt need to be criticized for it to sit up and perform better but for your likes, it’ll always be difficult for this govt and for Nigeria to move forward. Who pays you to defend when Nigerians are facing hard times.

      • Asuk

        When it suited you, you used what the Americans said to pull down Jonathan, now you called them ill informed. Keep deluding yourself. Next time, be decent in your language. No insults intended.

        • Chijioke Oweregbulam

          Don’t mind Artful Dodger, it is good that you did not descend to his level by the use of foul language on people with dissenting views. As for your advise to him, I want to say that people like him are incapable of using decent language.

          • Asuk

            Thanks my brother.

      • sam

        God deliver you from this chronic hatred. You really need to check the mirror and see who is really cursed. God bless all Nigerian tribes!!!

  • Rzg

    Why did the so called Rodriguez not elaborate. They sit n the computer and look at Nigeria from satelites to determine what is A from B… I choose to believe Buhari. The US Africom has a political agenda

    • okenwa

      And buhari you choose to believe always travels to the war front to know first hand information in what that is going on abi.

      • Artful ºDodger

        As an igbo man what else is expected of you? You people are cursed!

        • okenwa

          Thank you

    • Victor

      You are permitted to live in your own paradise for as long as you want.

      • Artful ºDodger

        Shut up!

  • IK

    Let’s continue deceiving ourselves and being made a laughing stock to the world.

    • Artful ºDodger

      When you are igbo, you are also stupid. Enjoy!

      • kenn

        And when you are not Igbo it’s a hopelessly debilitating studpidity. Enjoy as well

      • IK

        Believe me, I am enjoying this better than any Oscar scripted film.
        On the deceit, take a look at all groups and check who actually is deceiving who.

  • AGU

    Buhari is a liar. he lied is way to the office and will continue to lie to the end.

    • Artful ºDodger

      When you are igbo of ignorance, miscreant and nuisance value you are also a moron as well. Little wonder why you are stupid. Enjoy your hypocrisy o!

      • the truth

        I am not against Buhari but i agree with AGU Buhari lied to Nigerians time and time again, just recently in Saudi Arabia he said Nigeria will not be part (join) the Saudi led alliance against terrorism only to appear in Aljazeera to say Nigeria is a member of the Saudi led alliance. too bad for Nigeria because we have nothing to gain from such coalition but to send our soldiers has ground force to be kill for Saudi and expose Nigeria to more radical terrorist attack from ISIS.

      • MikeZen1

        As always your foolish insults say far more about you, than the person or people you attempt to insult. Typical bigot.
        If you don’t agree with @AGU, why can’t you articulate exactly why you don’t agree?? Must everything automatically degenerate into trading of insults? Haba

      • AGU

        republic of idiots, what else can i describe you.

    • naijaman

      My understanding is, the aim of this forum is for us to analyze, criticize objectively and constructively as well as to give a profound solution to issues at stake. But instead we choose to be displaying our tribal, religion and political difference. Just going through the numerous comment is easy for any sensible person to know the bias and sentimental grudges of the commentator.

      • 1Jay1

        what is your opinion and advice

      • AGU

        Buhari want it hard way and hard way he will get