Accessing military operations around Nigeria

Accessing military operations around Nigeria

Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed the reins of leadership in May 2015, the army has carried out quite some operations as it continues to protect the nation’s territorial integrity.

Recruits undergo training at the headquaters of the Depot of the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State in northcentral Nigeria, on October 5, 2017.

Operation Lafiya Dole (North East Nigeria)

Operation Lafiya Dole is the army’s code name for the war on terror in Nigeria’s northeast. This code name literally translates to ‘Peace by all means’ in Hausa.

The operation was set up to counter terrorism and insurgency. It was later expanded to specialized operations including “Operation Crackdown�, “Operation Gama Aiki� and “Operation Safe Corridor.�

Operation Gama Aiki was launched to clear remnants of Boko Haram from northern part of Borno State and the border regions with Chad and Niger Republic. It is a joint operation with the Nigerian military and the regional Multinational Joint Task Force. In fact, Gama Aiki is targeted at terrorists fleeing “Operation Crackdown.�

Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai renamed the code name for the war on terror from “Operation Zaman Lafiya� to “Operation Lafiya Dole� in July 2015 signaling his determination to attain peace by force in the North East.

The Current Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole is Major General I. Attahiru. His posting came up just as the Nigeria Army embarked on a massive restructuring of its major commanding posts and units around the country. The operation has been one of the fiercest owing to the fight against terrorism, but due to reorganisations carried out at the theatre command, it became stronger and more effective in its combat against insurgency.

Much success has been recorded since the beginning of this operation. Troops under the Operation LAFIYA DOLE have continued to neutralize several Boko Haram insurgents, make arrests, free abducted hostages and discover bomb making factories. The development has assisted to reduce spate of suicide bombing and insurgents’ attacks.

The Operation has been working in conjuction with The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), a combined multinational formation, comprising units, mostly military, from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. It is headquartered in N’Djamena and is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency. Threats of insurgency due to porous borders

Despite the numerous political, logistical, technical and financial challenges it has been facing, the MNJTF has been supporting the war, although more should be done urgently by MNJTF to safeguard our porous borders.

The 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) indicates that killing of innocent people by the Boko Haram insurgents in the North east decreased by 80 per cent. According to the report, Nigeria also recorded the biggest decrease in terrorism worldwide, with 3,100 fewer people killed compared to 2015

The operation has also excelled in working in synergy with UN and other development organizations to address the humanitarian crisis in the North-East region. Such working collaboration guaranteed the success of the counter-insurgency campaign in the north east of Nigeria.

On 3rd October, 2017, Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General TY Buratai commissioned the 7 Division Human Rights Office at Maimalari Cantonment in Maiduguri. The human rights desk was instituted to promote good human practices and boost civil-military relations in the counter-insurgency campaign of the Armed Forces. It is also designed to educate soldiers on fundamental human rights issues to guide them in the discharge of their duties.

Operation Awatse (Southwest Nigeria)

Awatse is a Hausa name to say ‘scatter’. The Operation Awatse was to carry out intensive operations to ensure the clearance of militants.

The operation started in July 2016 and was designed to dismantle the operational bases of pipeline vandals and militants in the coastal areas of Southwest Nigeria.

Under the command of the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. S.A.G Abbah, formerly Navy Secretary, riverine communities in the Lagos and Ogun states axis have been experiencing relative peace. The area had hitherto been under the siege of attack by the hoodlums, which had resulted into killings and destruction of properties.

Operation Awatse followed an aerial bombardment in 2016 with a mop-up operation of the Arepo, Ishawo and Elepete creeks in Lagos and Ogun states. These creeks, especially Arepo and Isawo creeks were very notorious and known for all sort of underworld dealings. Since then, there has been relative peace in the entire area.

The Operations’ ability to carry along other security agencies involved in this operation has prevented a re-infiltration of other areas by militants.

The Operation Awatse by the Armed Forces is still positioned at curbing pipeline vandalism and petroleum products-related criminality with negative socio-economic consequence for the coutry. Now that petroleum products is pumped from Atlas Cove to Mosimi, the presence of Operation Awatse has created an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

Operation Delta Safe (Niger Delta)

The commander for Operation Delta Safe in the Niger Delta is Rear Admiral Apochi Ogabu Suleiman. Until his appointment in 2016, Rear Admiral Suleiman was the Director, Development at the Defence Headquarters.

In its effort to protect oil and gas infrastructure in Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) was launched. It was to intensify its operation at frustrating the activities of economic saboteurs across the region.

Operation Delta Safe was given a mandate to protect Oil and Gas Infrastructures, Deter and Prevent Sea Robbery, Crude Oil theft and other Criminalities within the Joint area of Operation that could impact negatively on economic activities in Niger Delta.

The anti-militancy initiative in the Niger Delta region, has recovered a large cache of arms and ammunition from suspected militants. They have also been at the fore front of the destruction of illegal refineries in the creeks.

The operation has the capacity to flush out militants but were compelled to respect the dialogue option adopted by the federal government. It will be recalled that the Defence Headquarters had scaled down the military option and declared a ceasefire in order to pave way for dialogue with the militants

Their activities have continued to help in achieving a steady oil production output in the Niger Delta, hence steadying the nation’s economy.

The troops have recently been working on renewed threats of the Niger Delta Avengers to attack oil installations. They have also been enjoying a peaceful military-civil relationship with the host community.

Operation Safe Haven (Plateau, Kaduna, and Bauchi)

Troops of the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven maintain peace and security in Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi states.

Operation Safe Haven was established in 2010 as Special Task Force following ethno-religious conflicts in Plateau State. Since then, it has restrategized and remained undaunting in combatting the challenges it faced in recent times ranging from Fulani Herdsmen/Farmers Clash, cattle rustling, proliferation of arms attacks.

The Commander of Operation Safe Haven Maj Gen AM Atolagbe took over from Major-General Rogers Nicholas in August and in the 3 months since he has assumed duty, a whole lot has changed positively about the operation.

The Operation has deployed various means to curb the recurring killings and destructions of lives and property in the state. Apart from advocacy strategies to encourage people to lay down their arms and the use of dialogue, the troops have been able to consolidate on the gains of previous efforts by taking community service responsibilities very serious to the very people that need urgent help. The commander have been involved in a lot of initiatives that has made life easier and endeared the troops to the host community.

There has been a remarkable and continuous improvement in the cordial civil-military relationship in the host communities.

The Commander of the operation has been able to create a synergy with civil society groups which in turn engage the communities in talks bothering on peaceful coexistence and more cordial relationship with security agencies, so as to win the war against terror. This strategy has helped a lot in restoration of the relative peace and trust enjoyed in the state.

The command has also been able to study the spectacular nature of the challenges and proffered solutions accordingly. They troops now patrol the communities on regular basis and even provide cover for both farmers and herdsmen to conduct their normal businesses.

Recently, a seminar on Human Rights Abuses was held for troops of Headquarters 3 Division and Operation Safe Haven in order to have an efficient and effective civil – military relations and public supports for its operations.

Operation Safe Haven have a deployment of crack counter terrorists experts on power bikes in remote areas of some communities that had earlier been inaccessible this have no doubt greatly help to restored security. The effective security strategies combined with the cordial and professional conduct of men of the operation safe haven is currently yielding positive results.

Information gathered from a reliable security source say the new operational and technical innovations adopted by the commander of OPSH and his men have led to the arrest of some principal suspects across board in the recent attacks witnessed in plateau state. This feat is one of its kind since the establishment of the operation and must be commended and supported by all.

Melvin Ejeh writes from Jos

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