How Poor Coordination Hampers Routing of Boko Haram


•Military works as a team, says DHQ
•Army investigates video of extra-judicial killing

Kingsley Nweze

One major cause of prolonged war against insurgency in the North-east is poor coordination among the services in the armed forces, notably the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy and other security agencies, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.

THISDAY gathered that the lack of coordination is also believed to be fuelling the desire of the Nigerian Army to have a functional aviation unit with full compliments of attack helicopters to reduce its dependence on the NAF for air support against the insurgents.

But in a swift response, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said the armed forces could not operate effectively in a war situation without sustained coordination, adding that the military works as a team in the war against terrorists.

This came as the Nigerian Army yesterday launched an investigation into the trending video of extra-judicial killing of a suspected terrorist who was captured with his hands tied to his back, dragged to a shallow grave and shot seven times before he was buried.

THISDAY investigation showed that lack of coordination during operations in the North-east has been a major factor impeding the war as the services have rather leaned more on individual war plans than a coordinated one.

Investigation further showed that the Army and Air Force have trained separate special forces while the army has recently intensified the push for the establishment of an aviation unit.

In what has been viewed as part of the measures to reduce its reliance on NAF, the army moved further by launching the first army hanger in Jaji, Kaduna State last week with a plan to set up another one in Borno State.
The Metele attack in Borno State late last year, which led to the death of more than 30 soldiers, was the first major evidence of poor coordination in the insurgency war.

The army was said to have called for air support, but NAF allegedly failed to come on time, leading to the heavy casualties.
However, NAF sources cited poor weather conditions as the reason for the inability of the force to respond quickly to the invasion of the military base by the insurgents.

The incident was also believed to be the reason why the army desperately needs an aviation unit with attack helicopters to rely less on NAF and end the war quickly.

A senior military officer told THISDAY that the much sought after coordination would not happen owing to vested interests.
“The three services have different war plans, agenda and they do not want their budgets to be tampered with.

“They want to be seen to be implementing the war based on their budget as against a joint operation. Even in a joint operation, coordination is also not completely effective,” he said.

The source added that “force integration is still far-fetched as far as this insurgency war is concerned”.
But Defence spokesman, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, debunked the allegation of lack of effective coordination, saying that the military is working as a team in the war against insurgency.

“Whatever the military is going to do is coordinated. The Armed Forces cannot operate without coordination. It is not possible; it is going to be a national disaster,” he told THISDAY.

However, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, recently alluded to these challenges when he spoke at a conference in Abuja on the theme: “Capacity development to combat emerging security challenges”.

Olonisakin had decried the delay in achieving corporate targets of the armed forces, including training that would lead to joint force integration.
“Regrettably, the emphasis on joint training in these institutions has not translated to the desired level in the conduct of our joint operations,’’ the CDS had said.

He noted that the joint force integration would ensure that joint operations were “seamless, achieve economy of efforts and yet potent enough to achieve desired end-state under a unified command structure.’’

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa, had also hinted that “the increasing need for joint operations within the last few years was indicative of the importance of synergy and cooperation between all arms and services in the conduct of our operations.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army said it has launched an investigation into a trending video depicting extra-judicial killing involving soldiers in the North-east.
A statement by Army Spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said the action of the soldiers was unacceptable.
“The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to a video reportedly showing some NA personnel engaged in unprofessional torture and above all extra judicial killing of a suspected Boko Haram terrorist likely in the North East Theatre of Operation.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to clearly and strongly condemn the action of those involved (whoever they may be) in the misconduct, and that the dastardly act is completely unacceptable, unethical and is against the cherished core values of the NA especially that of respect for others and their fundamental rights”, it said.

The statement noted that “training, Rules of Engagement and standard operating procedures guiding the conduct of all her operations are unambiguous about human rights abuses and extra judicial actions including the rights of the arrested/captured terrorists/combatants.

“Troops in the various theaters of operations in Nigeria, have been consistently warned to desist from rights infractions of any form no matter the amount of desperation, anger or provocation”. Musa said the Army “does not license, encourage or condone indiscipline, unprofessional conduct especially extra judicial execution of suspects or combatants.

“Wherever, such is noticed or reported, once it is confirmed, appropriate decisive sanction or punishment is usually immediately meted out to the perpetrators and this case would never be an exception”.

He said the army authorities “on seeing the gory video, has commenced thorough investigation to apprehend the culprits with the aim to deal with them in accordance with the extant military justice system.
“Members of the public will surely be informed of the results of the actions taken so far.”