Buratai Admits Shortcomings in Operations in North-west, North-central

  •  Says Army strategising for decisive offensive

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, Thursday admitted that the efforts by the Nigerian military to tackle the state of insecurity in the North-central and North-west had not yielded the desired outcome.

Buratai stated this in a statement to felicitate with soldiers and their families on the occasion of 2018 Eid-el-Fitr celebration, promising to address the situation and strategise on how to effectively deal with the insecurity in the two regions.

He nonetheless, commended the Nigerian Army for the successes recorded so far in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east.

Figures being bandied put the lives so far lost in Zamfara, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue and Kogi States to bandits, cattle rustlers and herdsmen since January at over 3,000.

A cross-section of Nigerians including a former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), had accused the military of docility and complicity, calling on Nigerians to wake up and defend themselves against the frequent attacks.

The accusations were based on the fact that despite the operations such as Operation Deep Punch II, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma (Exercise Cat Race) and Operation Last Hold set up by the army to tackle the marauding killers, no meaningful success was achieved.

Following the accusations, the army high command had set up a panel in Taraba State to investigate if indeed its officers and men were colluding with herdsmen in the state to perpetrate killings.

The panel dismissed the allegations and gave the army a clean bill of health.

But Buratai in his statement promised to address the situation and strategise on how to effectively deal with the insecurity in the two regions.

According to him, “The achievements recorded by the army in the various activities conducted in the last few months are worthy of mention.

“These activities include the successful conduct of Operation Deep Punch II, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma (Exercise Cat Race) and Operation Last Hold, which is ongoing and the hosting of the African Land Forces Summit in Abuja to mention but a few. Furthermore, we have effectively tackled the Boko Haram insurgency.

“However, in the areas of kidnapping, cattle rustling in the North-central and North-western regions, we are re-strategising to decisively deal with the situation,” he said.

The army boss said the feat calls for officers and soldiers to redouble their efforts in the collective discharge of their constitutional roles, charging them to maintain discipline, be committed, dedicated, resilient and courageous in the discharge of their duties.

On Eid-el-Fitr, Buratai said the celebration, which climaxed the Holy month of Ramadan offered an opportunity for spiritual renewal of their collective commitment to the Nigerian Army and the nation at large.

He also used the occasion to commend the military personnel for their tireless contribution in the sustenance of peace and security across the country, urging all to remain professionally focused.

The army chief also promised to achieve his vision to transform the Nigerian Army into a more potent, professional and responsive force that will effectively curtail contemporary security challenges.

To this end, he reassured the officers and soldiers that issues bordering on training and welfare would continue to receive his utmost attention.

He said the army authorities would continue to do their best to ensure the wellbeing of the officers and soldiers as well as their families.

Buratai also reaffirmed his loyalty and those of the army personnel to President Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adding that the army would continue to remain apolitical while ensuring the sustenance of democracy.