By Isaiah Atuluku
With due respect to the Daily Trust newspapers, which is unarguably one the leading dailies in Nigeria today, the lead story of its Monday 29th June, 2020, edition is highly misleading.
While one is not holding brief for the Nigerian military, those of us resident in parts of the country constantly under the attacks of bandits and insurgents wish to be allowed to say something about military operations so as to correct the general impression created by your story, to wit, that the various operations launched by the military under various codenames are all hype and no substance.
While one may not fault the idea of the story to dig deep into details of military operations, the conclusion drawn by the story is faulty in that it did not factor in the gains of the military operations within the five years in question.
Even if the military spokesman was not available at the time of filing the report as your report stated; simple checks by your correspondents, like visiting some of the affected areas or talking to residents would have revealed the gains made by the military in launching the various operations.
I am a resident of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State, but I was forced to flee the local government when attacks by bandits became an hourly affair.
But through the launch of some of these operations, even though one cannot claim that normalcy has returned, we most definitely cannot say nothing has been done and many of my relations have returned.
We have seen troops come to our rescue and sometimes even when they suffer casualty, they have not left us to our fate but have been unrelenting is seeing that we are safe and secured.
We the members of the affected communities are so proud of what the military operations have done in our communities that it would be most uncharitable for us to remain mum when such conclusions, like the one in your paper, are drawn about the activities of the military in our communities.
If your reporters have bothered to visit the affected communities, they would have observed that nothing gives the members of those communities more joy than seeing a uniformed security man on patrol.
I can tell you without fear of contradiction that if you place Ghana-Must-Go bags filled with money at the doorsteps of each household, there won’t be much jubilation as villagers seeing a battalion of soldiers moving around the vicinity.
This is because the people no longer have interest in anything but to stay alive and it is through these operations which your story is trying to ridicule that some of us are live today.
Aside that, I know that it cannot be true that the tactics in all the military operations have remained the same and that the military authorities only fancies giving them different names, like your report claims.
This is not correct. With my little training in crime and crime prevention, I have come to know that no system of crime is exactly the same as each derive from a particular aim, time and measure.
If crime mutate according to time, location and other factors, it would be wrong to assume that an operation carried out today in a particular location with the same target can be the same with another operation targeted at the same set of criminals on another day even if it is on the same location, not to talk of when the location, time, logistics and peculiarities are different.
I noticed that your reporters also counted the phases of an operation, as different from the main one it derived from. For example, saying operation Harbin Kunama iii is different from the previous ones under the same code name is wrong because while they are a continuation of the previous exercises, the need to have them classified under a different phase is to indicate that the, the personnel, geography and logistic are different and these are done purely for proper identification and record purpose.
Your report, in the bid to support your claim that the operational code names are numerous also separated the indigenous names with the English translation
For example, Ayem Akpatuma is the Tiv name for Operation Cat Race but it enjoyed a distinct classification in your story.
Even as a layman, I know that the military operations have recorded major successes in execution and I feel that if the only way the military can tackle the diverse modes of attacks on communities is to reinvent itself through numerous operational codes, then so be it.
But let me mention some of the successes of the military in the field operations to show, unlike what your report is projecting, that much has been achieved.
In 2015, shortly after the present crop of service chiefs were appointed, the military under the code name of operation Lafiya Dole embarked on a major operation which sacked the entire Boko Haram terrorists population from their operations headquarters at Sambisa Forest and the military captured and established a base at Camp Zairo.
This was what led to the declaration by the Federal Government that the Boko Haram has been technically defeated.
In June 2016, the Battalion, 22 Task Force Brigade based on information received that Boko Haram terrorists earlier dislodged at Chukungudu and Hausari villages during a clearance operations, were migrating towards Muska village in Gamboru Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State, conducted fighting patrol operations in the area and during the encounter, the troops killed 10 Boko Haram terrorists, captured 2 alive and rescued a woman with her baby that were held hostage by the terrorists.
The troops also recovered several equipment, arms and ammunition that include 6 AK-47 rifle magazines, 56 rounds of 7.62m (Special) rounds of ammunitions, 1 bundle of detonating cord, a Manual on how to prepare Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) 2 rifle magazine pouches, a Techno IPad, a Nokia mobile telephone handset and 1 Gionee mobile telephone handset among other things.
Between 2016 and now, the military has recorded various number of victories under the operation but the height of it was in May this year when within two months after the Chief of army staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai led Nigerian troops in major victories, claimed the lives of 1,015 terrorists and also led to the arrest of 84 of their collaborators.
Under Operation Sharan Daji, troops in the North-West zone among other victories also killed 35 armed bandits and arrested 38 of them and handed them over to the police in the various states of their arrest.
In addition to that, 6,009 various animals were recovered within the zone as well as several AK-47 rifles, dane guns, and a variety of weapons and ammunition.
Under Harbin Kunama, troops in June 2019, killed 24 criminal elements during its operation Harbin Kunama III in Kano, Kaduna and Niger states within one month of operation.
The operation also recovered N1.1 million cash, 56 assorted arms, 374 cows and 104 goats while 20 kidnapped victims were rescued.
Not quite a month after that, troops of “Operation Thunder Strike” and “Operation Harbin Kunama III” killed five suspected bandits and arrested four others during two separate operations in Chikun and Igabi Local Government Areas of Kaduna State.
In another operation, soldiers also arrested 17 bandits in Katsina and killed one of them during a clearance operation.
After that operation, residents of Dagu village hailed the Army for destroying hideouts of the bandits, who have been terrorising villages in the area.
In June 2019, no fewer than eight bandits were killed and 17 other collaborators arrested by troops of Operation HARBIN KUNAMA III under the 8 Division Nigerian Army, Sokoto, while five bandits’ camps and 25 motorcycles were destroyed in the operation.
This was followed by the arrest of a notorious kidnapping kingpin, Mallam Bawa Gomna and 20 others during operations around Batsari, Jibia and Safana local government areas of Katsina State.
Under Operation Python Dance, troops were able to put to a stop the secessionist bids of some elements on 2017.
In February 2018, effort of the Nigerian Army to fish out criminals and protect farmlands in Benue State and it environ led to Exerciae Ayem Akpatuma which among other things led to the arrest of perpetrators of herdsmen/ farmers clash and put a stop to violence in Benue state.
Another problem with your report is that while you quoted the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as saying that the president had in a close door meeting with service chiefs stated that their best was not good enough, your report did not reflect even one in the many instances where President Muhammadu Buhari had commended the military for a good job like when the chief of army staff handed the flag and Quran of the Boko Haram leader to the President.
I believe the report would have been better of these issues have been reflected or factored in.
Atuluku is a member, militray writers association of Nigeria .