With nearly 30,000 deaths between 2009 and 2016 with extensive physical destruction and the displacement of some 2.4 million people, the Northeast and the Lake Chad region has seen the bitter side of war. FRANCIS OKOYE (Maiduguri) reports the success story of The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram.
The Lake Chad Basin region, comprising Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, is the hub of a violent campaign by Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati w’al Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad), commonly known as Boko Haram.
The violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and the counter- insurgency campaign against it has resulted in the deaths of nearly 30,000 people between 2009 and 2016 with extensive physical destruction, the displacement of some 2.4 million people and a severe food crisis affecting over 6.6 million residents of the Northeast.
The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) – created by the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) in 1998 to address cross border security issues in the Lake Chad region – was reactivated by the LCBC in 2012 with an expanded mandate to encompass counter-terrorism operations.
It was given a clearer strategy against Boko Haram at the Extraordinary Summit of LCBC member states and Benin in October 2014. Unlike its previous state, the task force included Cameroon among its troop-contributing countries, and was provided with pledges of financial support from international actors including the African Union (AU), the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU) and France.
International partners also offered military advisors, intelligence and surveillance capabilities and training. Its mandate included conducting military operations to
prevent the expansion of Boko Haram activities; conducting patrols; preventing transfers of weapons or logistics to the group; actively searching for and freeing
abductees, including the girls kidnapped from Chibok in April 2014; and carrying out psychological operations to encourage defections within Boko Haram ranks.
With the coming of Major General Lucky Irabor, in May 2017 as the Force Commander, Multinational Joint Taskforce ( MNJTF), the game of the crusade against the terroriststs changed in favour of the people, as the new force Commander did not only lead the force in routing Boko Haram from the Lake Chad region, but also rescued thousands of captives, seized cache of wepons, as well as making the areas safe.
Updating the media and strategic partners in N’Djamena, Chad recently on its operational successes and the ongoing offensive operations in the Lakechad Basin, the Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, listed some of the exploits to include the arrest of great number of the terroriststs and recovery of amunitions including heavy wepons.
Major General Irabor observed that Boko Haram terrorism like other similar conflicts create complex emergencies which attract humanitarian, military and other interventions.
He added that for such interventions to succeed, it is imperative for responsible actors to share and disseminate information. This he noted was the rationale for MNJTF’s effort in providing information about its activities on a regular basis.
Continuing, the Force Commander noted: “The Mandate of the MNJTF among other responsibilities, empowers it to create a safe and secure environment in the areas affected by the activities of Boko Haram terrorism and other terrorist groups, in order to significantly reduce violence and other abuses, including sexual and gender based violence, in full compliance with international law. ”
Irabor added that the ongoing operation is in the spirit of the mandate.
“Operation ANMI FAKAT is to consolidate on the gains of Operation RUWAN KADA which was conducted between January and June 2017,” Irabor said.
The Force Commander informed the gathering that the current operation which was flagged off on 5 April 2018 is already yielding substantial operational dividends.
He listed human and equipment casualties inflicted on Boko Haram terrorists by the Multinational Force as: “59 killed in Action, 5 Terrorists captured, 3 suicide bombers killed, 3 Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices destroyed, 1each of 81 and 82mm mortars and bombs captured, One 122mm Artillery gun and its prime Mover captured, 6 Gun Trucks destroyed, Fuel dump, food stores and communication platform destroyed. Gashigar, Arege and Metele cleared of terrorists with several motorcycles destroyed.”
However, the Force Commander noted that his forces recorded 22 Killed in Action, 75 wounded, a Scorpion tank and truck each damaged.
Major General Irabor explained that the high casualty ratio of his troops was due to indirect fire and Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device attack by terrorists, but assured that steps have been taken to forestall a reoccurrence.
The Force Commander hinted that already 50% of injured troops have been treated and discharged.
He assured the audience and people in the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries of the determination of the MNJTF in conjunction with national forces to deal decisively with Boko Haram terrorism, as Operation ANMI FAKAT continues.
The Force Commander thanked strategic and international partners, troops contributing countries and other stake – holders for the support and encouragement so far given to the Multinational Joint Task Force.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY recalls that the MNJTF Force Commander had while handling the Theartre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole as Theatre Commander sent the Boko Haram terroriststs packing from their enclaves in Borno State and other parts of Northeast before his present position.