By Augustine Ehikioya
With their very high mobility on motorbikes and foot, terrorists in the North East have wrecked more havoc in the area in the past 13 years.
Terrorists rely on attacking isolated and soft targets, leaving behind destruction, deaths, blood, cries and agony within villages and communities.
They specialized in sending innocent and unsuspecting Nigerians to their early graves.
The impact of their evil acts also made many residents in the area to abandon their communities and become refugees in other places.
Apart from selecting highly populated areas to attack in order to have maximum impact, they also enjoy attacking innocent Nigerians who come home during festive seasons.
But the new approaches being adopted by the troops of OP HADIN KAI is said to be paying off in the North East as troops now easily thwart terrorists’ attacks in the area.
In the new moves to defeat terror in the North East, the soldiers are now more mobile as they beat the terrorists to their games.
During a Brief on 2nd, August 2022, for Security Watch Africa on the activities of Joint Task Force (North East) Operation HADIN KAI by Chief J3 HQ JTF (NE) OPHK, Colonel Benedict Ezeh, in Maiduguri, Borno State, the Theatre Commander, Joint Task Force, North East Operation HADIN KAI, Major General Christopher Musa said, “Now that we have wet season operations, mostly we are moving light.
“The Chief of Army Staff is doing his best by providing the required logistics. The new military equipment we got in December have actually made the difference for us. So, if we have the right equipment, we will be able to do more.
“We have only got about 25 to 30 percent and we achieved this. So if we have about 90 percent, you can be sure this thing will come to an end.
“Everybody is focused and we are committed to ensuring peace in the North East. And once there is peace, it will transcend to other regions,” he added.
While terrorists in the past decade always use festive seasons to cause havoc in the North East, they were however stopped in their tracks in the last Muslim Sallah as the troops have become more mobile and proactive.
Just like in the past festive seasons, the terrorists had mapped out their plans to carryout attacks in the North East during the Muslim Sallah break.
They were said to have brought in over 300 terrorists from other areas in order to have more impactful attacks.
But many of the terrorists were caught unawares and neutralized while their weapons of mass destruction were destroyed before they could put them to use.
Reeling out figures during the presentation to the SWA Team led by the President/C.E.O, Mr. Patrick Agbambu, the Theatre Operations Officer, Col. Benedict Ezeh revealed that over 250 terrorists were neutralized in June and July 2022 alone.
He said “The operations have disoriented the terrorists. This has resulted in over 130 arrest of terrorists and collaborators, 250 terrorists neutralized in the last two months.
“The neutralized figure is the official. It didn’t include those who were neutralized through air strikes and internal friction between the two Boko Haram factions and ISWAP.”
Ezeh added “Operation Desert Sanity and Operation Lake Sanity have significantly dealt grave blow to the terrorists’ centre gravity as evident in the noticeable increase in their wandering and relocation in a bid to find safe havens.
“These operations have led to the dislodgement of Boko Haram terrorists from their safe havens.
Plans are already in place to counter whatever the terrorists have planned for the rainy season,” he said.
The new approaches in the North East is also said to have led to the surrendering of over 73,000 terrorists and their families since July 2021 to date.
While many firearms, ammunition and weapons were said to have been recovered from terrorists in the area, some kidnapped victims have also been rescued.
The latest among the rescued victims are five Chibok schoolgirls, who were abducted in their school in 2014. They included Hauwa Joseph, Mery Dauda, Ruth Bitrus, Kauna Luka and Hanatu Musa.
Ezeh also listed some of the achievements of the new measures to include the reopening of the Maiduguri-Damboa road on the 18th of July 2022.
The road is said to be out of action for a very long time due to the activities of the insurgents.
The presentation also listed some of the challenges of the operations in the North East to includeTerrorism financing, Influx of mercineries and fighters, Bureaucracy in procurement of military hardwares, IEDs among other challenges.
While the dislodging of terrorists are ongoing in many parts of the North East, many residents who earlier abandoned their communities, have started returning home.
Their movement home was said to have been facilitated by the Nigerian Army, among other national, state and international bodies, who painstakingly combed the area and clear it of bombs and IEDs left behind by the terrorists.
Besides many international organizations playing great roles in the refugees’ movement back to their communities, economic activities, including fishing and farming, are said to have picked up in the areas.
Speaking with Security Watch Africa, Lieutenant Colonel NN Bala, who is the FOB Commander in Molai along Maiduguri-Damboa Road, which was earlier a safe haven of terrorists, said “There have been tremendous achievements here since we commenced operation within this general area. Farming activities is going on, people are going on with their normal businesses in Molai area without any hitch.
“The Damboa Road which used to be shut down because of insecurity is now free. Commuters now ply this road without any fear. It eases fatigue of passing longer routes to Damboa. Nigerian Army has been patching most of the roads to make it passable.
“Soldiers morale here is very high. We thank the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government for taking care of our welfare. All our allowances are being paid to date,” he said.
Some of the new returnees to their long abandoned communities, while speaking with Security Watch Africa on the Damboa Road, were full of praises for the Nigerian Army.
A woman farmer, Madam Dorcas, returning from her farm said “We thank God. Our soldiers are trying everyday. We go to our farms from 6am to 6pm.”
Another farmer, a young man, Bukar Musa, said “We are very happy we can now go to our farms. We now have enough security. Before there was no security.
“I wish the Nigerian Army all the best. And May Almighty Allah continue to guide them,” he stated.
It is hoped that the present relative peace in the North East will endure beyond the coming months and years.
No doubt, it will be a cheering news for all well-meaning Nigerians when the over 13 years war against terrorism in the North East finally comes to an end.
Ending the war will go a long way to release more funds for meaningful development across the country.
Also, lessons and measures being adopted to dislodge terrorists in the North East will definitely be very useful in tackling other security challenges in other parts of the country.