Nigeria’s military has been reputed to be one of the best trained and equipped armed forces in the continent. No wonder the Nigerian troops had always excelled in international engagements whether as part of the United Nations contingent in peace keeping operations or as peace enforcers in the sub-region.
But back home, the story leaves a sour taste in the mouth as ragtag army of bandits and insurgents have stood their ground against the military, launching series of attacks and sacking communities.
The terrorists have not only successfully ambushed our troops and killed them in some cases but they also invaded military fortresses carting away heavy weapons and ammunition including armoured tanks. Some villages and towns are under the rule of the terrorists who force the locals to pay taxes. They occupy more than 100 identified forests in Nigeria and the hideouts of these terrorists are known to the military but what is holding back the military from going all out to crush them is still a mystery to Nigerians.
Reports from the North East theatre of operation have shown how Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists launched surprise and precise attacks on troops’ locations and bases. Sometimes, there are casualties.
The questions that were therefore begging for answers were; How were these terrorists able to attack the usually heavily fortified military bases? And why were the terrorists able to cart away scores of soldiers’ gun trucks, armoured personnel carriers and other sophisticated weaponry of the Nigerian military on the few occasions that they did?
Some of these questions have now been partly answered with the arrest of Lance Corporal Jibrin, Mohammed, a weapons instructor with the Nigerian Army Battalion in Geidam in Yobe state who was discovered to have been a Boko Haram agent, giving the terrorists vital information about the hard working and patriotic troops.
The discovery of a Boko Haram agent in the military appears to have jolted the authorities into action as the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS last week issued a strong memo to the officers warning of the consequences of collaborating with terrorists.
Lance Corporal Jibrin Mohammed was arrested in Yobe after intelligence operatives tracked his collaborative activities with the terrorists who severally attacked drinking and relaxation joints in Geidam, killing many people.
Commenting on the arrest of Lance Corporal Jibrin, a military personnel said it has now confirmed the fears of many of his colleagues why the insurgents were able to successfully carry out many of such attacks against the troops. According to the military personnel, “this explains why Boko Haram will take our location by surprise and kill soldiers and officers, even inside our bases as if some of them were among us”.
Jibrin was said to have supplied information to Boko Haram terrorists which enabled them to launch an attack and killed nine people in local pubs at Kornari village in Ngala Local Government Area of Borno state while one person was also killed and seven others injured when the terrorists triggered an explosion that rocked a relaxation Centre in Abasha ward, Gashua Local Government Area of the state.
A military source said, “Jibrin took part in the two attacks in Yobe state where nine people were killed in a beer joint. Shortly after, it was discovered that he had absconded from duty for two days.
“The Battalion Commanding Officer then tracked his phone and he was located at a point in Gashua, hundreds of kilometers from his supposed duty post.
“The army authorities in Gashua were intimated and the soldiers spread their dragnets. On Tuesday morning, Jibrin boarded a bus to Gombe and disguised himself but he was identified and nabbed at the checkpoint in Gashua and was handcuffed.
“On transit to Geidam, Jibrin employed his skills as a weapon instructor, snatched a gun from one of his escorts and blew up himself.
“His revelations before he killed himself however, led to the arrest of some other suspects, and many are believed to be among the troops in both Gombe and Geidam battalions. However, investigation is in progress to unravel other culprits who were working with him within the army”.
Before Jibrin was uncovered, a soldier, Lance Corporal Sanni Mohammed was arrested at a motor park with 2,000 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition. Lance Corporal Mohammed who was said to be attached to 198 Special Forces Battalion was arrested at the Borno Express park in Maiduguri by officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) as he was about to board a bus to FCT.
NURTW officials later handed over the suspect to the police where he told the interrogators that he sourced the ammunition from a broken-down vehicle in his unit.
Other items found in his possession were a 3-day excuse duty and two reports of hospital test. The army had since told the police that the soldier was not issued a pass or given medical leave to travel.
Military sources said the Army was waiting for the Borno State Police Command to conclude its investigation and hand over the soldier to the army for its own detailed investigation of the matter.
The soldier’s arrest came about a month after the Zamfara State Government disclosed that a Nigerian soldier and his girlfriend were caught supplying ammunition and military uniforms to armed bandits in the state.
In other instances, two Nigerian soldiers, Sergeant Alhaji Oloche (05NA/56/1435) and CPL Namo Daniel (09NA/62/1097) attached to the Security Outfit in Kaduna, Operation Yaki, were arrested in March for alleged kidnapping.
Another soldier attached to Headquarters 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Danladi Hadau (20NA/79/4219), was arrested with two members of vigilante, identified as Mustapha Kasim and Ibrahim Mohammed for collaborating with bandits. They were arrested while attempting to collect ransom on Dumbi Dutse Road in Zaria after orchestrating the abduction of a resident of Dorayi village in Zaria Local Government Area of the state, Alhaji Lawal Ahmed on March 3, 2022
After they kidnapped the man, they demanded a ransom before his release and while waiting to collect the ransom at a meeting point on Dumbi Dutse Road in Zaria, they were all arrested.
The three soldiers were being detained at a military facility in Kaduna while the two vigilantes were handed over to the police.
The biggest casualty of collaboration with terrorists was Brigadier General Dzarma Zirkusu, the Commander of the 28 Task Force Brigade/Special Forces who was killed at Askira Uba by ISWAP terrorists who got information about his movement to reinforce troops to wipe out BHT/ISWAP and prevent Askira Uba from falling into the hands of the terrorists.
The terrorists were said to have arrived the town with a massive arsenal of movable weapons and high caliber equipment with which to overrun troops but the soldiers stood their ground. Brigadier General Zirkusu and some soldiers were killed in the fierce encounter.
A combined operation was then launched involving the Air Component of OPHK and ground troops with the deployment of alpha jets and combat trucks, two A-29 artillery weapons, two Dragon combat vehicles and nine Gun Trucks which subsequently liquidated the terrorists. The army later confirmed that Brigadier General Dzarma Zirkusu and three soldiers “paid the supreme sacrifice in a very rare display of gallantry as they provided reinforcement in a counter offensive against the terrorists, and successfully defended the location”.
Infuriated by the arrest of Lance Corporal Jibrin Mohammad, a Boko Haram agent and other collaborations of the troops with terrorists and bandits which had proved very costly to the nation, the military and the suffering communities, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor during the week expressed disgust at the activities of these collaborators and tasked operational commanders to put an end to it.
The arrest of Lance Corporal Jibrin who was said to have shot himself dead appeared to be the last straw which prompted the CDS to issue the letter.
The letter to Field and Operational Commanders of troops, was titled, “Need to Educate Personnel on the Implications of Collaborating with the Enemy” and was signed by Commodore CE Orji, on April 4, 2022
It said, “Recent happenings in various TOOs (Theatres of Operations) reveal an increase in cases of aiding and abetting by personnel. This development was revealed in different reports of arrests of military personnel within a short period of time.
“It will be recalled that a soldier was arrested by a covert Intelligence Team for conniving with a confirmed terrorist informant known as Babagana Kura in Bama LGA, Borno State.
“The arrests of these personnel are indicative of inside action that has continued to aid the adversary pertinently with immediate or potential impact on operations.
“Similarly, another soldier was arrested with 162 rounds of 7.62 mm Special, 60 rounds of 7.62 mm NATO and IED materials concealed in a traveling bag without a valid ID card.
“Preliminary investigation further led to the recovery of one AK47 rifle, 3 empty magazines and one magazine loaded with 10 f 7.62 mm Special.
“These developments therefore underscore the need to sensitize personnel on the implications of collaborating with the enemy while taking appropriate actions that would forestall such incidents.”