On Christmas eve, Friday December 23, 2016, the final stronghold of the Boko Haram terrorists, named Camp Zero, tucked inside Sambisa Forest in Borno State, finally fell to the Nigerian Military, through the grace of God. The news came to many Nigerians as a unique/rare Christmas gift from God to a despondent nation, living under the yoke of economic recession.
While thanking God and giving Him all the glory for this major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism in the land, kudos should also go to the fighting spirits and the resilience of our troops for doing the nation proud amidst alleged poor logistics/welfare which they suffered, especially food. And just before the final push that led to the fall of Camp Zero, there were allegations of some soldiers dying of exhaustion which precipitated mutiny attempts against their superior officers particularly the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division. Although, military authorities promptly denied the rumours, the Nigerian public was not sure of whose report to believe. But for as long as the nation was losing soldiers and high ranking officers to the insurgency in questionable circumstances, public opinion was against the tactics of our military strategists for inadvertent loopholes, which the Boko Haram insurgents exploited to inflict collateral damage on certain military and civilian targets when such attacks were least expected.
It was in view of such surprise attacks that we reinforced/reemphasized our call for Inter-Agency collaboration among security agencies and the nation’s intelligence community in our previous article titled “Ending Boko Haram menace: The hard choices facing the nation”. Among other things, we pointed out that such inter-agency collaboration would expose the activities of the fifth columnists among the Nigerian military who might be leaking troops’ movements to the insurgents which might have been responsible for the successful ambush of our troops, leading to the death of about 3 commanding officers of a lieutenant colonel rank together with other officers and men who were accompanying them at the time of attacks/ambush by the insurgents.
Despite this recent military success in the North-east, the intelligence community, in collaboration with the Nigerian public and international community, should not rest on their oars. This is because the fall of Camp Zero, occupied by the Boko Haram as their fortress, should not be likened to the fall of the insurgent group or its ideology.
The event of last week as strategic as it was only represented the dislodgment of the Boko Haram group from their stronghold with their resultant dispersal into the Nigerian larger community. As a matter of fact, few days ago, after the fall of Camp Zero, one of the sect’s commanders was apprehended in Ikorodu, near Lagos. As if this was not enough, two female suicide bombers were also apprehended on Monday, December 26, 2016 in Maiduguri, Borno state. One of them reportedly died while detonating the bomb, her partner in the deadly suicide mission was gunned down and the bomb-belt strapped to her body was detonated later. The Federal Government has also called for extra-vigilance on the part of the public to prevent integration of these deadly insurgents into the larger society so that they do not continue to perpetrate their evil agenda. This is because with the GSM technology and other hi-tech in communication, this group can still contact and coordinate themselves with the aim of continuing their strikes at the nation’s soft targets.
It should be noted that Boko Haram is an ideology in the hearts of its adherents and supporters. And that is why the Federal Government should quickly address the remote causes of the insurgency in the first place so that it doesn’t resurface in another location under the guise of another extremist/fundamentalist group.
By the way, we learnt that Camp Zero was an abandoned military facility constructed by the former military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida for his ill-fated National Guard Project. The camp reportedly has underground bunkers. But how did the location of this military facility come to the knowledge of the Boko Haram insurgents and its subsequent acquisition and use as their own fortress without the knowledge of the nation’s intelligence community during the era of the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan? And on whose authority were they using the facility? This may be the subject of research and national discourse.
For now, while congratulating the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, and the entire military with their sister security agencies for this remarkable success/breakthrough in the fight against terrorism, we want to admonish the President and his economic team to also strive and win the fight against hunger and abject poverty that are prevalent in the land. As we pointed out in one of our previous articles titled “Food security and national Security: A correlation”, when the government wins the war against hunger and poverty in the land, it will drastically reduce its expenditure on purchase of arms and ammunition to fight crime. Those who missed this article should please visit out blog site- gbemigaolakunle.blogspot.com to read the details.
Meanwhile, let us celebrate, cling our glasses and toast to the dislodgment of Boko Haram insurgents from their fortresses in the Sambisa forest as we continue to be more vigilant in our respective immediate environments.
Gbemiga Olakunle JP General Secretary, National Prayer Movement [email protected] gbemigaolakunle.blogspot.com Abuja