Military’s Defensive Strategy Dragging War against Insurgents, Says House

•Demands change of tactics

•CDS: Insurgents, bandits’ days are numbered

•Senate mourns slain general, four other soldiers

•Our missions in N’East are 3,700 from January to Date, says NAF

Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Sylvester Idowu in Warri

The House of Representatives, has said the defensive approach of the military in the ongoing fight against the terrorists in the north-eastern part of the country was responsible for dragging the war.

The lawmakers, therefore, called on the military to change its defensive approach and go on the offensive against the insurgents if the war was to be won.

This is just as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Oladayo Amao, yesterday, declared that the days of the insurgents and bandits in the country were numbered and assured Nigerians that the end of savagery of the insurgents and bandits was in sight.

Also, yesterday, the Senate at plenary observed a minute silence to mourn Brigadier-General Dzarma Zirkusu and four other soldiers killed last week by terrorists of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the course of a raid on insurgents by the military in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State.

The resolution of the House of Representatives was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary by Hon. Ahmed Jaha, on the need to, “immediately mobilise more security personnel to communities bordering the Zambisa due to incessant attacks, provide relief materials to displaced people and rescue four Askira Emirate Council members abducted by the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) a week ago.”

“So, if we are going to achieve this war, Nigeria Military should change the strategy of Super Camp-living in a single defence position waiting for the insurgents to come and attack them.”

Moving the motion, Jaha said in the last two weeks, three different communities of Klangar (Ngohi Ward), Gyerha (Kida Ward) and Askira the headquarters of Askira Uba LGA, were at different times attacked by Boko Haram Insurgents and that the latest attack took place on Saturday, November 13, 2021.

The lawmaker noted that during such attacks, private and public property were burnt down, stores with food items looted, while the people living in the areas were displaced into nearby bushes with all the risks and consequences that followed.

Jaha said lives were lost, especially, security personnel and unfortunate civilians caught up in the middle of cross fire. He, however, lamented that four members of Askira Emirate Council were abducted while traveling between Askira and Maiduguri, the state capital.

Jaha further lamented that there was no news of their whereabouts, one week after their abduction, noting that two of the abductees had health challenges.

His words: “Concerned that though our security personnel are doing their very best, their numbers and equipment available to them are grossly inadequate to protect all the communities on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.”

The lawmaker pointed out that, when the insurgents attacked Askira, they came with 16 Gun Trucks and two M-RAPS, adding that, “observers say, meaning kinetically they’ve dominated the region. This by no means a situation the country can’t handle with kids gloves.”

He expressed worry that with the yuletide season around the corner, attacks by the insurgents could increase as the bush paths they normally followed were now dry and motorable by their standards.

Jaha expressed worry that some of the communities had already received notices from the insurgents of impending attacks.

“I want to emphasise that they need to change their strategy whether we like it or not. You cannot sit in your comfort zone, waiting for the insurgents to come and attack you so that you can repel them.” the lawmaker said, pointing out that the war against insurgents would drag on if the military decided to be on the defensive.

According to him, “This war is not going to finish. We have to embark on an offensive strategy by taking the war to their doorsteps. Even the success recorded as a result of surrendering to the Nigerian Army by some Boko Haram members, we are all aware it was not as a result of either kinetic or non-primitive operations or firepower.”

Jaha argued that it was as a result of the division amongst the terrorists and the killing of Abubakar Shekau, hence, the House of Representatives resolved that, “We need to change strategy and attack is the best form of defence.”

It also urged the military authorities to station at least, a Battalion of personnel and appropriate equipment at Mandiragrau, Askira and Garkida communities.

The House also called on the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) to immediately provide all the communities affected with relief materials to cushion the effects of the attacks on the citizens.

Irabor: Terrorism in Northeast Will Soon Be Over

Irabor, yesterday, boasted that terrorism ravaging the north-eastern part of the country would soon be a thing of the past.

The CDS, who gave the assurance at the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, Warri, said the massive surrender of terrorists in the region was a pointer to the fact that the military was winning the war against insurgency.

Irabor, who was on an operational visit to military formations in Warri, took time off to inspect a surveillance base at the Trans Forcados crude oil pipeline, a major oil trunkline in Burutu Local Government area of Delta State.

He was accompanied by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Kennedy Egbuchulam; Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), Rear Admiral Aminu Hassan; Commander NNS Delta, Commodore Abdulhamid Baba-Inna, among other officers.

Irabor said: “I’m sure you know that truly, we are winning the war. Why? The pressures that you talked about compared to the past, are not as much.

“And more so, you have seen reports of massive surrender of Boko Haram terrorists among other things, so that’s an indication that we are winning the war.

“In no distant time, we will see the totality of the end of such kind of criminality in that part of the country,” he said.

Irabor said his visit was to see the troops and inspect all formations and units involved in ensuring peace and security in the Niger Delta region.

Commending the Commander NNS Delta and his troops for being “focused” in the activities so far undertaken, Irabor said, “they know what is right and then, they are able to take proactive actions that have deterred any form of criminality in this area.

“I think that it is something to be applauded and I have encouraged them to sustain the tempo,” he said.

Insurgency, Banditry Days Are Numbered, Says Amao

In the same vein, Amao, has declared that the days of insurgents and bandits were numbered in the country and assured Nigerians that the end of savagery of the insurgents and bandits was definitely in sight.

This was as the Senate, through its committee on Air Force, tasked the military to intensify its onslaughts against insurgents and bandits for the required peace and development in the affected areas.

The Air Force boss, who gave the assurance during 2022 budget defence session before the committee said the insurgents of whatever faction, be it Boko Haram or ISWAP, had been devastatingly decimated and degraded with attendant loss of fighters and weapons on weekly basis, making many of them to surrender voluntarily.

“Required onslaughts tactically and strategically are already mapped out to rout out the remnants of the insurgents attacking villages and military outposts in pretence of still being potent.

“In line with the core mandate of the Air force and military generally, the territorial integrity of Nigeria is being protected against the insurgents and bandits, who in no distant time, will be completely wiped out,” he said.

He added that as the 2021 budgetary allocations given the Air Force was judiciously used in prosecuting the war against the insurgents and bandits as well as improving the welfare of officers and men, the 2022 allocations, would also be expended judiciously for similar purposes.

According to him, “In the face of challenges at hand, prudency and accountability have been the guiding principle of implementation of budgetary allocations by the Nigeria Air Force”.

In his opening remarks, before the session went into closed door engagement, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ibn Bala Na’ Allah, tasked the military to use all the resources within its disposal in routing the remnants of the insurgents in particular and make the forests inhabitable for bandits, kidnappers and all forms of criminals.

“The Air Force and by extension, the military generally, deserve commendation from Nigerians as far as war against insurgency and banditry are concerned but Nigerians want these enemies of the nation to be completely defeated as soon as possible.

“For us, on this committee, and in the National Assembly, required Appropriations in terms of procurement of weapons, armaments and enhancement of welfare of officers and men in the military shall be made since essence of governance itself is security and welfare of citizenry,” he said.

The Senate, however, observed a minute silence for Zirkusu and four soldiers killed last week.

Coming under Order 43 of the Senate Rules, Ndume drew the attention of his colleagues to the demise of the senior military officer and four soldiers of the Joint Military Task Force.

The ranking Senator hailed the deceased for their exceptional display of gallantry in the military’s fight against terrorists in North-East Nigeria and particularly described the late Zirkusu as “an embodiment of humility, a gallant soldier who served and died for his fatherland.”

Meanwhile, appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Navy for the defence of their 2022 budget proposal, Amao disclosed that NAF, in its fight against terrorism and banditry in the North East, had flown about 7, 000 hours in over 4, 600 sorties and about 3, 700 missions from January, 2021 till date.

Amao said NAF has inducted 16 newly acquired aircraft into its fleet through the support of the federal government and the National Assembly.

He said NAF has been actively involved in the airlift of INEC staff and also contributed over 400 troops to provide security before, during and after the recently concluded Anambra election.

“From January 2021 till date the NAF aircraft have flown about 7, 000 hours in over 4, 600 sorties and about 3, 700 missions in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the north east and operations against the bandits in the northwest. The NAF personnel have also enjoyed quality and local and foreign training.

“Between 2021 to date, a total of 2, 155 personnel have undergone both foreign and local training. Currently, 390 are undergoing training in different countries across the world, while 3,523 personnel are undergoing local training in various military institutions and other para-military institutions.

“In line with the leading key driver of my vision, the NAF has deployed doctrinal documents in all areas of our competences. Again, looking at the welfare of personnel, which is another key driver of my vision, in this regard, this administration has embarked on various projects that have so far had significant impact on personnel across NAF units from January till date.

“One of the responsibilities of the NAF is providing aid to civil authorities in support of the government, the NAF airlifted materials and staff of government agencies such as the National Centre for Disease Control during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID 19 pandemic. The NAF also is periodically involved in the airlift of officials of the National Emergency Management Agency.

“In winning the hearts and minds of the citizens, especially, our host communities, the NAF has been conducting humanitarian and welfare programmes across the nation. It is important to state that these achievements would not be possible without the assistance of the NASS through funds appropriated to the NAF as well as the support of the FG. We pledge to continue to do more.”

Chairman of the committee, Hon. Shehu Koko, thereafter, excused journalists from covering the defence session in details, because it was sensitive.

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