Just last week I was privileged to interview Major General John Enenche, the army spokesperson, for Montage Magazine. The full interview will be coming out on the August edition of the magazine. I must commend the professionalism and maturity of the Nigerian army and other security agencies in this difficult battle against Boko Haram terrorist group. Like all terror groups around the globe, they are quite difficult to tackle, and by the nature of the type of war they wage, targeting whatever target, mostly soft targets just to make headlines, they pile up more pressure on the security apparatus. They keep evolving when they are boxed into the corner just to give an impression that they are still larger than life.
It was quite shocking that some couple of days after the interview I heard the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has given the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, deadline to capture Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, dead or alive. A statement by Army spokesman Brigadier General Sani Usman said, “Buratai, has directed the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, to capture Abubakar Shekau, the so-called and self-styled leader of Boko Haram terrorists group, dead or alive.” I knew this was a mistake, except perhaps the army have intel on something no one knows or if they already have Shekau boxed somewhere and were sure they would get him within 4o days.
Immediately after General Buratai’s order, Boko Haram intensified attacks and went for NNPC team on oil exploration along the Lake Chad. The army responded and in the whole of this, about 48 people are reported dead on government’s side.
Forty-eight corpses of persons killed by Boko Haram terrorists during an oil exploration to the Lake Chad Basin have been brought to the Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in the Borno State capital. Sources at the UMTH and the Maimalari Army Barrack confirmed to the PUNCH that the corpses were brought into Maiduguri from the scene of the attack.
The Federal Government on Thursday said it would halt oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin following Tuesday’s attack on explorers that led to at least 27 deaths, Premium Times reported.
And Daily Trust has it that over 45 people were killed in northern Borno on Tuesday when Boko Haram ambushed oil workers, while many others are still missing according to reports from Maiduguri. Soldiers and civilian JTF providing cover for oil the workers, staff of the University of Maiduguri and some locals were killed in the ambush while cache of arms were taken away by the attackers.
The victims were involved in exploration work spearheaded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Credible sources within the military and at the university said some Hilux trucks had so far evacuated bodies from the scene of the attack and deposited them at mortuaries of the 7 Division Nigerian Army and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).
The Nigerian Army said on Wednesday that soldiers on reinforcement had recovered corpses of eight of its personnel and rescued all the remaining civilians; but credible sources dispelled the claim, saying almost everybody in the convoy was killed.
Among the corpses recovered so far were those of a lieutenant, two corporals, a lance corporal, and five privates who were providing cover for the oil explorers.
The bodies of two professors and three others from the university were also recovered while the status of five others from the same university, who were in the same convoy but in a different vehicle, could not be ascertained.
It is obvious that it is Boko Haram’s way of making a statement in response to General Buratai’s order. The Army Chief should have known that he would endanger the lives of his men and others by making such careless statement. If you want to get Sheikh Abubakar bin Shekawi, the CEO of Boko Haram, what you need to do is to get him before rushing to advertise on the social media, because if you don’t get him after the dateline expect media backlash.
Getting a terrorist kingpin like Abubakar Shekau is done secretly and is not a social media affairs. Immediately everyone heard and saw that picture of President Muhmmadu Buhari, they all started lobbying and trying to impress to keep their job. I don’t want to believe that was what prompt General Buratai into making such careless statement and ensuring it makes headline.