Adopt ‘troop surge strategy’, secuirty expert tells FG


President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Ona Ekhomu has advised the Federal Government to adopt a “troop surge strategy” to end the 10-year-old Boko Haram insurgency.

He urged the new Minister of Defence Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd) to immediately order the deployment of 10,000 troops into the North-East to change the dynamic of the conflict. He said that a clear, decisive and quick victory was needed to avoid getting into a “stalemated conflict”.

According to Dr. Ekhomu, the recent “super camp strategy” adopted by Operation Lafiya Dole in which troops from smaller military formations were merged to form few large formations was contributory to the insurgent attacks that occurred last week in Gubio, Magumeri, Nganzai and Kondugha local government areas (LGAs) of Borno State. He said: “the insurgents observed and exploited the vulnerabilities of undefended LGAs and moved in to attack and resupply themselves with food, medicine, fuel, and women. Our military planners should know that nature abhors a vacuum”.

Ekhomu said that in Gubio and Magumeri council headquarters the insurgents destroyed infrastructure assets including local government buildings, shops, houses etc. However, the insurgents who joined the locals in the Maghrib (evening) prayers assured residents that they were not on a mission to kill. After seizing drugs and other valuables, they arrested and took away one Civilian JTF. “From the signature of their actions, these were ISWAP fighters who prefer to engage in benign Jihad”, he added,

In Borri, Wanori and Kaleri-Andule villages in Kondugha LGA in Central Borno State, 73 houses and 28 shops were torched. The scenes of attacks were a mere 25 kilometers from Maiduguri. The insurgents struck at 8PM on August 22nd 2019. This appeared to be an attack by the Abubakar Shekau faction of the Boko Haram. In Gajiram Town, Nganzai LGA which was attacked at the weekend, four persons were killed, 21 women abducted — out of which nine escaped from the insurgents. The aggressors burnt vehicles and carted away foodstuffs. “The Gajiram attack was clearly another Shekau job”, Ekhomu added.

The chartered security expert said that introducing 10,000 troops into the theater of conflict with adequate logistics, would give the necessary capability to go after the insurgents. He characterized the “supercamp” as a defensive strategy aimed at force protection. “Since July 2018, Boko Haram has been taking the battle to the military. We have been playing defense and that has resulted in incessant attacks on military formations including the infamous Metele attack of November 2018. In CTCOIN Operations you must be nimble-footed, maintain an offensive posture, employ all source intelligence assets and be lethal. You must destroy the enemy’s will to fight”, he added.

Ekhomu said “Nigerians should not leave the war in the North-East to the military alone. A nation fights a war. The military are those in the battlefield but other institutions including the political class, the Police agency, the intelligence services, the judiciary, the correctional institutions, the para-military agencies, and even the citizens must join in the fight and help the war effort in their own unique ways”.

The expert said that if we don’t defang the snake, it might soon became a bigger threat. He opined that the collaboration of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) was quite troubling as the terror groups are sharing know-how, finance, tactics, personnel and other capabilities He advised the Nigerian government to forge a coherent and cogent narrative of the conflict such that the international community can come in to help defeat the enemy.

He deplored the destruction of fish seized by the military in Borno State, saying that the food items should have been donated to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. He said it was ironical that international humanitarian agencies are giving us food aid to feed over two million IDPs in the north-east, yet we are burning truckloads of fish seized from suspected collaborators of insurgents. He advised the theater commander to get expedited court forfeiture orders or rely on military statutes to donate seized food items to IDP camps.

Ekhomu advised the FG against the practice of recycling fighters into the battle field. He said “there is nothing like a repentant insurgent”. He advised that captured insurgents must be imprisoned as enemy combatants and thoroughly investigated to know if they carried out any atrocities and mass-murders before being transferred into the deradicalization programs for a minimum of five years prior to certification and release. He said “the current practice of catch and release does not provide redress for the atrocities committed by Boko Haram fighters against innocent citizens.  The policy is also prolonging the conflict”, he added.

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