The Super Camp strategy adopted by the military in the war against insurgency in the North-east may have given the terrorists opportunity to occupy more territories from where they launch assaults on the troops, THISDAY investigation has revealed.
Under the SuperCamp strategy, the military, in what appeared like a tactical retreat, pulled out its battalions from all the camps occupied by troops and relocated them to heavily fortified cities where their brigade headquarters are located.
In the wake of criticism from Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum and some communities in the state, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, had said the Super Camp was the way to victory, adding that the Nigerian Army was expanding on the idea to defeat the insurgents.
He had disclosed that 20 super camps had been established so far and described the concept as “the concentration of formidable fighting forces in strongholds that have the capacity for swift mobility.
“This requires the forces to be proactive, dogged, and capable of making bold offensives at all times to defeat the adversary by denying freedom of action.
“To support the super camp concept, we have inducted more manpower and equipment in this theatre.”
But THISDAY gathered that as the soldiers concentrated inside these heavily-guarded Super Camps, all the military posts previously occupied by the troops were taken over by the terrorists, thus making it difficult for soldiers to venture outside the super camps without falling victims to landmines and ambush by the terrorists.
Zulum had at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari complained that the super camp strategy was “unwise and not working” and lamented that the withdrawal of troops from many towns to be concentrated on a particular area was the reason for the increasing attacks on Borno communities by insurgents.
The governor’s disapproval was followed by a letter by some communities to Buhari urging a review of the security situation, adding that they have lost confidence in the military following incessant attacks by the insurgents without appropriate response from the troops.
Two soldiers who returned from the war in the North-east at the weekend told THISDAY that Boko Haram fighters are now moving freely in all the areas the troops had withdrawn from, thereby complicating the war.
“Concentration of troops in one location has brought setback to the war. Boko Haram fighters are moving freely in all the areas our troops withdrew from. They lay mines freely and ambush soldiers. Each time troops go for ‘clearance exercise,’ the casualties are very heavy because of landmines and ambush by Boko Haram. Before they came up with this idea of Super Camp, soldiers were everywhere keeping watch over the dangerous routes,” one of the soldiers said.
He added that the movement of soldiers has become endangered because of the landmines and ambush by Boko Haram who have taken over all the military posts previously occupied by the soldiers.
According to him, in one of the most recent attacks, the terrorists ambushed troops going from Damaturu to Biu and snatched four gun trucks and N15 million from the soldiers after killing one soldier and wounding another.
“The soldiers were going to Biu from Damaturu. The N15 million cash was for their feeding and ration allowance,” he said.
Another soldier cited the case of the 155 Battalion, which he said had withdrawn from Banki Junction in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
“All the troops at Banki Junction and along the road withdrew to the Brigade Headquarters at Bama where they formed the Super Camp. Banki Junction is where they built Abu Ali Shooting Range in honour of Lt. Col. Abu Ali who died in the war. There is a filling station and a mosque at the junction. Soldiers of 155 Battalion were worshipping at the mosque and using the filling station as park because it was not destroyed. But as I am talking to you, Boko Haram is using the shooting range and worshipping at the mosque and moving freely in that axis because of the withdrawal of the troops. Soldiers serving at the Brigade Headquarters at Bama must pass through this junction before they go to Maiduguri. They must pass through this junction before they go to Gwoza, which has link to Adamawa State. They must pass through this junction before they go to the main Banki town, which is the boundary with Cameroon. With Boko Haram moving freely and laying mines in these places, it is now difficult for soldiers to leave their base in Bama,” he stated.
According to him, as part of the war strategy, soldiers who were stationed at Pulka have been moved to their Brigade Headquarters in Gwoza.
He said it is now dangerous for soldiers or civilians within Maiduguri to go beyond Konduga Local Government Area.
“If you go beyond Konduga, you are in an enemy territory because soldiers have withdrawn from those places,” he added.
But when contacted, the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, invited THISDAY to Maiduguri for on-the-spot assessment.
He volunteered to take THISDAY round the affected areas to get the actual first-hand knowledge of the war situation.