What may turn out to be a gamechanger in the war against Jama’atu Ahlil Sunnah (JAS), also known as Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) began last week as Chadian military forces unleashed an unprecedented blow on the terrorists’ assault and defence positions in the Lake Chad Basin.
Led personally by Chadian President, Idriss Deby, the Chadian military, from all fronts, ramped up targeted and sweeping air, ground and amphibious operations against the terrorists. Tagged ‘Operation Boma Anger’, this military campaign was triggered by the terrorists’ massacre of Chadian soldiers in which over 100 were killed in Bohoma.
But this solo effort had been long in the making. Chad had few months ago withdrawn its troops from the Nigerian-led Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) with headquarters in its capital, Ndjamena. Determined to take its fate in its hands, it launched on Sunday, March 29, 2020, the campaign that involved large-scale deployment of troops, helicopters, gun trucks and armoured vehicles with the gunboats of its amphibious units taking over the Lake Chad basin swamps.
The devastation was such that Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, counseled his fighters to “take heart,” begging them not to run away from battle after many of them were killed and their major weapons confiscated.
A satisfied President Deby told journalists last Saturday that the blood of the fallen soldiers in Bohoma has been revenged, adding: “I can assure all Chadian people today that the entire island zone that borders with Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, there is not a single Boko Haram today in Chad. The little that remains, has returned to Niger, Nigeria or Cameroon. Cleaning continues. It’s over for our country. Now we are inside the neighbours (territories). We support them to end Boko Haram. We taught them a lesson they will never forget; those of them alive.”
But what is most intriguing is that when the Chadian troops were mobilising to the battlefront even within the nation’s territory, the supposedly “well trained and well-equipped” Nigerian soldiers, including those deployed to Cross-Kauwa, Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State, felt so exhilarated that they burst into celebration, singing and dancing, openly ecstatic that the Chadian soldiers had come to liberate Nigerian territories from the grip of the terrorists.
Clearly, something must have gone wrong with either the command and control structure of the army or the fighting spirit of the soldiers. And this becomes weird as the terrorists, along with their families, while running from the massive Chadian assault, were beating a fast-retreat into Nigerian territories. They amassed from the Lake Chad area and crossed around Magumeri and Gubio areas to the Alagarno axis; a place they named Timbuktu. This was the location where the terrorists massacred Nigerian troops in an ambush on March 22, 2020.
We salute the Chadian leader for leading his troops to battle and singularly achieving the great feat of decimating Boko Haram/ISWAP in the territories around Lake Chad. We caution them and all other countries affected by the crisis not to slow down as these terrorists would surely attempt to regroup as they had done in the past.
We therefore enjoin the Nigerian military to complete the job by launching clearance and final assault operations against remnants of the terrorists in our territory. The Nigerien and Cameroonians should do the same. This is time for Nigeria to show its fighting prowess, the old stuff it is made of.