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Road Attacks by Boko Haram Spark Challenges to Army Narrative

By Mike Odeh James and Segun Onibiyo

[Kaduna] In a chilling attack, Boko Haram insurgents ambushed the Maiduguri-Kano highway on June 11, 2024 and  abducting numerous passengers and leaving hundreds stranded.

Eyewitnesses described the scene as “absolute chaos,” with gunfire and screams filling the air. The attack came despite claims by the military that Boko Haram had been largely defeated in the region.

The kidnapping sent a shock wave as many thought that peace was gradually returning to the Northeast

Recently, General Shuaibu Waidi, Theatre Commander, Northeast Theatre, Operations, Hadin Kai, told TruthNigeria that Boko Haram in the Northeast had been degraded by 90 percent. He also added that the Northeast is relatively safe.

Residents of Maiduguri, Dambo, Gwoza, Damaturu, and Banishek confirmed to TruthNigeria that attacks, killings, and kidnappings by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and ISWAP since the beginning of the year have declined.

Terrorism Surges in the Northeast As ISWAP, Boko Haram Strike With Impunity

Despite the assertion of the General, the Northeast region has seen a disturbing upsurge in attacks, killings, and kidnappings by terrorist groups Boko Haram and ISWAP since the start of the year.

On June 5, 2024, Boko Haram terrorists ambushed a commercial vehicle on the Damaturu-Biu Highway in Yobe State, killing three Christians and abducting another. The militants had set up a checkpoint near Kumaya village, where they ruthlessly separated the Christians from the other passengers.

Similarly, members of another radical Islamic sect, Islam in West Africa Province (ISWAP) on May 31, 2024 gave farmers and fishermen of Kukawa county in Borno a “quit notice,” accusing them of collaborating with the military.

Just a month earlier, on April 4, a deadly ambush by Boko Haram insurgents on a military vehicle along the Biu-Buratai-Buni Yadi Road claimed the lives of seven soldiers, including a lieutenant and four other escorts. The attack occurred near Kamuya village, a notorious hotspot for terrorist activities.

These attacks have left many wondering if the military’s claims of defeating Boko Haram have been exaggerated.

“Experts Weigh In On Boko Haram’s Resurgence: ‘Military Must Act Decisively’

As Boko Haram’s attacks intensify in the Northeast, experts are warning if the military’s claims of defeating the terrorist group may be premature.

 Barr. Zannah Mustapha, Director of Future Prowess Islamic Foundation, who has been involved in peace negotiations between the military and insurgents, believes that Boko Haram has been substantially defeated and that the recent attacks are a sign of desperation.

“The military and government must take steps to ensure that Boko Haram and other former terrorists do not regroup or reorganize themselves,” Barr. Mustapha told TruthNigeria.

 “This includes setting up camps to house and rehabilitate ex-militants and implementing a thorough de-radicalization program.”

He also noted that the use of repentant Boko Haram members for combat duties is ill advised for the Northeast .

“The ex-militants are often tempted to return to their violent ways by the constant exposure to violence .

“Actually, Boko Haram is almost defeated, but the remnants can still get access to illegal weapons and commit acts of banditry .

Security Analyst and retired Navy Captain, Umar Bakori, agrees that Boko Haram has been degraded, but warns that the presence of thousands of light weapons in the Northeast and the porous borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger Republic pose a significant threat.

“The military must decimate ISWAP and secure the borders to prevent further attacks,” Captain Bakori said. “The fact that Boko Haram terrorists have fled to Tchad and Cameroon sides of the border and are now operating from there is a clear indication that the military needs to do more.”

“If the military can effectively patrol the borders between Nigeria, Niger, Republic, Cameroon and Tchad, Boko Haram and would be effectively decimated.

“As for ISWAP, what the military needs to do, is to cut off the Lake Tchad areas from the rest of Borno State and embark of aria  bombardment of the Tchad basin while moving more ground troops in .

ISWAP the Major Threat

Navy Captain Bakori also believes that the major force threatening the Northeast is the ISWAP and not Boko Haram .

“Apart from shortage in manpower within the military, ISWAP is a major factor that is threatening the stability of the Northeast.

“There is over concentration on Boko Haram than ISWAP, if the Army can concentrate on them, concentrate all the firepower on them, it would decimate them .

“Furthermore, there is the need for more harmony between all the branches of the Armed forces if the military is to bring total peace to the Northeast, Bakori concluded.

Mike Odeh James and Segun Onibiyo are Conflict reporters based in Northern Nigeria and contribute to TruthNigeria.

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