U.S To Deliver 12 Fighter Jets To Nigeria

The United States has promised to deliver 12 Super Tucano fighter jets and other weapons it agreed to sell to Nigeria to combat Boko Haram insurgents and other extremist groups by 2020.

This was disclosed by a senior U.S. Department of State official during a background briefing with selected journalists at the U.S. Consul General’s Residence on Sunday in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The official, who confirmed that the Nigerian government had paid for the war planes, said sale of the aircraft with weapons and services worth over 400 million dollars included bombs and rockets.

The propeller-driven plane with reconnaissance, surveillance and attack capabilities is made by Brazil’s Embraer.

Embraer’s second production line is in Florida in a partnership between Embraer and privately held Sierra Nevada Corp of Sparks, Nevada.

The Super Tucano is said to cost more than 10 million dollars each and the price could go much higher depending on the configuration. It is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT 6 engine.

On the planned visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to the White House on April 30, the official said the Nigerian leader would be the first African president to meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

“We are excited about the planned visit by President Buhari as the first African leader to be engaged by President Donald Trump at the White House.

“The most important is that it is in Washington. It will be a very high level meeting; it will help the U.S. to also understand Nigeria’s projection.

“There will be independent conversation on security, governance, the Lake Chad Basin and Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region,’’ the U.S. government official said.

Commenting on Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, the official said: “U.S. will remain non-partisan as it had the commitment to continue to support Nigeria’s elections.

“Will continue to help Nigeria’s security agencies to build capacity, not only in Nigeria but other countries in Africa,’’ the senior U.S Department of State official said.

On the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the official noted that the electoral umpire had benefited from the U.S. in several ways in ensuring level playing field for all interested parties.

The official, however, tasked the Nigerian media to be professional in their reportage as the 2019 elections get close.

“The media should be able to inform the public on the processes leading to the election proper; you need to educate the public on the importance of Permanent Voter Card (PVC), and this should not be left to INEC alone to handle.

“The media should allow transparency in their relationship with politicians and in carrying out their responsibilities,’’ he added.

 

Nigerian Army Launches Operation To “Totally Destroy Boko Haram”

The Nigerian Army has announced the launch of a new operation to totally destroy the terror group, Boko Haram.

According to a statement by David Ahmadu, the Chief of Training and Operations, the new operation‎ will last four months.

“Operation LAST HOLD is expected to last for 4 months and it will entail deployment of 6 additional manoeuvre brigades and other critical assets in Borno State‎,” Mr Ahmadu, a major general, said.

Over 100,000 people are believed to have died from the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009, majority of them in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states.

The military and the federal government have ‎in the past announced that the insurgents have been “technically defeated.”

However, the terror group, which has since split into factions, is still able to carry out attacks on civilian and military targets.

Mr Chukwu, however, says the new operation will “ensure the destruction of Boko Haram Terrorist camps and strong points in the Lake Chad Basin.”

“The operation will also facilitate the rescue of hostages,” he said.

Read his full statement below.

You may recall that the Nigerian Army has been engaged in the conduct of counter insurgency operation tagged Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East region for some years with considerable successes. However, the complex and adaptive nature of the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in the dissident group still sometimes being engaged in abductions, attack on soft targets, Improvised Explosive Device attacks and suicide bombings.

2. It has become expedient for the Nigerian Army to change operating tactics, techniques and procedure in the North East region. Accordingly, the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2018 will be commemorated with the conduct of an operation tagged Operation LAST HOLD in Northern Borno within the North East Theatre. The design is to deploy personnel and equipment to showcase the combat efficiency of the NA and thereafter conduct operations to totally destroy Boko Haram locations in the Lake Chad Basin.

3. Operation LAST HOLD is expected to last for 4 months and it will entail deployment of 6 additional manoeuvre brigades and other critical assets in Borno State. The operation is intended to facilitate the clearance of the Lake Chad waterways of sea weeds and other obstacles obstructing the movement of boats and people across the water channels. It will also ensure the destruction of Boko Haram Terrorist camps and strong points in the Lake Chad Basin. The operation will also facilitate the rescue of hostages. The operational end-state of Operation LAST HOLD is the total defeat of the Boko Haram Terrorist Sect. Strategically, the conduct of Operation LAST HOLD will facilitate the restoration of fishing, farming and other economic activities in the Lake Chad Basin. Additionally, it will facilitate the relocation of Internally Displaced Persons from IDP camps to their communities.

4. Operation LAST HOLD is conceptualised to involve the conduct of population influence activities targeted to improve Civil-Military relations in the North East region. It is pertinent to note that Operation LAST HOLD is set to record remarkable achievements that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well as its commitment to aid the civil authority to bring about peace and security. In this regard, law abiding members of the public in Northern Borno State are enjoined not to panic as their safety and well-being have been deliberately factored in the operation. The general public is requested to remain vigilant and be security conscious, as suspected insurgents may be fleeing from military operations in the North East and finding safe haven amidst our communities. The public is also reminded to report any suspicious activity or movement to the nearest military formation or other security agencies for prompt action.

5. Gentlemen of the press, you have always been our partners in progress; hence we are using this opportunity to request you to give this operation widest publicity in your respective media. On this note, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army, I thank you all for honouring our invitation. I will now take questions from you and clarify doubts if any.

Major General David D AHMADU
Chief of Training and Operations (Army)

Troops Successfully Repel Attack By Bandits In Taraba

Troops of 101 Special Forces Battalion deployed in Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA on Wednesday, 18 April 2018 while on patrol to Zamban village in Suntai Local Government Area of Taraba state successfully repelled an attack by armed Fulani bandits.

Director Army Public Relations Brigadier General Texas Chukwu disclosed this to the media on Thursday.

He said one of the bandits was captured during the encounter. Items recovered from the criminals include One AK 47 Rifle, One Pump Action Rifle, Three Dane Guns, One Round of 7.62mm Special, 36 Cartridges, Three Cutlasses, One Jack Knife, One Mobile Phone among others.

“The captured bandit is presently undergoing interrogation. The public is once again reminded to report any suspicious movements in their areas to the security agency for prompt action.” He added.

Chibok Girls: Four Years, 119 Still Kept in Abduction

Today (Saturday) marked four years since Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from the remote town of Chibok, with renewed calls for their release and that of thousands of others seized in the bloody conflict.

A total of 219 girls were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in the remote town in Borno state on the evening of April 14, 2014 and have become an enduring symbol of the Islamist insurgency.

Four years on, 112 are still being held.

On Friday night, about 100 people attended a vigil in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, under a busy flyover whose pillars are now adorned with brightly painted murals of the missing girls.

“We are here to show (the) government that we are still missing our sisters,” Zakaria Galang, a brother of one of the students who is yet to return, told AFP.

Further events are planned in the capital, Abuja, on Saturday.

Nigeria’s president in 2014, Goodluck Jonathan, was heavily criticised for his response to the abduction but the man who replaced him, Muhammadu Buhari, has had more success.

Since 2016, 107 girls have been found, released or escaped as part of a government deal with Boko Haram and the administration has said back-channel talks are ongoing for further releases and a possible end to the wider conflict.

Another activist, Habiba Balogun, said she hoped that would happen after nearly nine years of violence that has left at least 20,000 dead and made more than 2.6 million homeless.

“The government has said that they are ready to negotiate; they want to bring this nightmare to an end,” she said.

Buhari pledged to the Chibok girls’ parents that their daughters “will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate” despite the time that had passed.

The former military ruler has repeatedly claimed Boko Haram was virtually defeated but while there have been clear army gains, security threats remain.

In February, fighters loyal to a Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi seized 112 schoolgirls and one boy from the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state.

One hundred and seven were returned in mid-March. Five reportedly died, while one girl — the only Christian in the group — is still being held.

Buhari said the return of so many students from Dapchi and Chibok “should give confidence that all hope is not lost” and showed the government was “doing its very best”.

There had been “unexpected setbacks” in talks because of infighting within Boko Haram.

But he added: “We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up. Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again.”

Boko Haram has used kidnapping as a weapon of war during the conflict, seizing women and girls to act as sex slaves or suicide bombers, and men and boys to fight.

UNICEF said this week more than 1,000 children had been verified as abducted in northeast Nigeria since 2013, although the real figure is estimated to be much higher.

Amnesty International’s Nigeria director, Osai Ojigho, said the Chibok abduction was a small part of a bigger issue.

The government needed to deliver “meaningful action on behalf of all these victims of Boko Haram’s crimes”.

“Far more support must also be provided for past victims,” she said, proposing a register for abducted people.

The International Crisis Group meanwhile said the copycat abduction in Dapchi showed more needed to be done to protect schoolchildren in the restive region.

“The abductions illustrate that Boko Haram remains a menace to swathes of northeast Nigeria,” it added in a report published on Thursday.

“They throw into doubt the government’s claim to have defeated the movement; instead, insurgents may be newly emboldened to keep fighting.

“The kidnappings cast a pall over education, particularly of girls, and thus the prospects for socio-economic development of the region.”

Boko Haram Has Abducted Over 1,000 Children In Nigeria Since 2013 – UNICEF

As Nigeria prepares to mark the fourth anniversary of the Chibok kidnapping, UNICEF reported on Friday that over 1,000 children have been abducted by the insurgents since 2013.

“Since 2013, more than 1,000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, including 276 girls taken from their secondary school in the town of Chibok in 2014,” said UNICEF in a statement.

“These repeated attacks against children in schools are unconscionable,” Mohamed Malick Fall, a UNICEF representative in Nigeria.

Boko Haram’s fight to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has claimed at least 20,000 lives and displaced more than two million people.

Schools, particularly those with a secular curriculum, have been targeted by Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates from Hausa — the language spoken widely across northern Nigeria — as “Western education is forbidden”.

At least 2,295 teachers have been killed and more than 1,400 schools destroyed by the insurgents since the conflict started in 2009, according to UNICEF.

While a 2015 offensive launched by President Muhammadu Buhari successfully reclaimed swathes of territory back from the jihadists in Nigeria, the group still stages deadly attacks on both military targets and civilians.

In February, the Boko Haram terrorists shocked Nigerians by driving unopposed into Dapchi, Yobe State and kidnapping over 100 schoolgirls.

The response from the authorities — denials then contradictions — was eerily similar to the confusion when the Chibok girls were kidnapped.

Most of the girls have since been returned, but the brazen abduction revived painful memories of the Chibok kidnapping in 2014.

Of the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the northeastern town of Chibok on April 14, 2014, over 100 are still missing.

Abubakar Shekau, the mercurial Boko Haram leader responsible for using girls as suicide bombers, has claimed in videos that the girls have converted to Islam and have been “married off”.

For those following Boko Haram, the Dapchi kidnapping wasn’t entirely a surprise.

Over the past year, the jihadists have ramped up attacks, killing soldiers, kidnapping government workers and terrorising the northeastern city of Maiduguri with relentless suicide bombings.

Under pressure to live up to his election promise of beating Boko Haram, this month Buhari reiterated his support for the release of $1 billion in emergency funds to fight the Islamists.

Buhari’s government has recovered scores of the girls. But the negotiations with the jihadists — which reportedly involved ransom payments and the release of high-ranking commanders — rankled critics who questioned the wisdom of funding and rejuvenating the ranks of the extremists.

AFP

 

Nigerian Troops Trained On New Tactics To Battle Boko Haram

Pentagon has disclosed that U.S soldiers have trained Nigerian on a six-week advice-and-assist mission in Jaji, Kaduna State.

The U.S. Department of Defence said Nigerian Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion might be the next to deploy to Northeast to confront the violent extremist organisation, Boko Haram.

The department, while documenting some accounts of the U.S. soldiers during the training said it was important to prepare the Nigerian troops for the threats they faced from the terrorists.

Sgt. Saul Rodriguez, the most experienced of the 12 U.S. soldiers said “even in triple-digit heat and with AK-47 automatic rifles in hand, it’s easy to forget these soldiers are likely headed into imminent danger”.

“My job is to train you as much as I can. Your job is to fight the bad guys out of your country,” Pentagon quoted Rodriguez as shouting to a group of soldiers demonstrating their best cover and concealment efforts behind Jaji’s bushes and trees.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Martin of the 10th Mountain Division Fort Drum, New York, said after lecturing the troops on the significance of maintaining noise discipline that they needed the skills as they faced real threats.

“Yes. We are hard on them. We have to be. Their life depends on it. They might need these skills one day.

“They face a very real and lethal threat. We aren’t going to slow down; we are going to pack as much training in as possible,” Martin said.

Capt. Stephen Gouthro said this life-altering responsibility to prepare Nigerian soldiers was not lost on him, adding one of the best parts of the mission was the lack of micromanagement.

Gouthro said: “What better way to demonstrate mission command. This mission isn’t only about the tactical.

“Everything our team does could have diplomatic effects. Out here, the team has to be professional, mature and disciplined. And we are.”

Pentagon said: “All in all, this mission is the definition of the U.S. Army’s top priority: readiness.

“From pack-out preparations to redeployment operations, this mission challenged junior officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to work without built-in support from ‘Big Army’.

“Austere conditions, local negotiations, food from the economy, far from higher headquarters, limited digital capabilities, diplomatic implications and foreign-military engagements are only a few examples of how this mission has made these men more ready”.

It said a small support team travelled to Jaji about four weeks into the mission, flying down from U.S. Army Africa’s headquarters in Vicenza, Italy.

“The travellers asked Gouthro if the team had any requests. Historically speaking, soldiers ask for candy, SIM cards or extra soap. Not this team. Gouthro’s priority remained the mission.

“He asked for a sizeable knife for a graduation gift to give the Nigerian company’s commander and some smokeless tobacco, commonly known as ‘dip’, for one of his NCOs,” Pentagon said.

The department noted that the cohesion brought on by an austere living environment around Jaji, carried into the work.

 

Army Rescue 149, Kill 5 B’Haram Members

The Nigerian Army on Sunday reported to have rescued 149 persons in the ongoing clearance operation against remnants of Boko Haram insurgents at Yerimari-Kura community in Sambisa axis.
Col. Onyeama Nwachukwu, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, said in a statement that the troops killed five insurgents and captured five others in the encounter.

“Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have continued to make progress in clearance operations to smoke out Boko Haram insurgents who escaped from their previous stronghold in the Sambisa Forest.

“On Saturday, the troops made further operational exploit into Boko Haram’s hideout at Yerimari-Kura, in a deliberate operation to extricate and rescue hostages held by the insurgents in their hideout.

“In the encounter, troops killed three Boko Haram insurgents and captured five,” he said, adding that the troops also destroyed insurgents’ logistics in the operation.

Nwachukwu explained that the rescued persons included 54 women and 95 children, noting that they were being profiled and receiving medical attention at the 21 Brigade Medical Centre.

Read More: Troops kill five Boko Haram insurgents, recover arms in Adamawa

According to him, the troops also neutralized two suicide bombers at Mandanari community in Konduga, Borno, when they attempted to infiltrate the community on April 7.

Nwachukwu disclosed that the suicide bombers strapped with Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) vests, attempted to sneak into the community at about 8:00 pm on Saturday.

“The suicide bombers were sighted by vigilant troops who challenged them from a safe distance. The patrol engaged them as they refused to halt and ran towards the community, detonating their IEDs.

“Only the suicide bombers were killed in the incident, while three persons who sustained minor injuries were receiving medical attention”.

20 Boko Haram Members Killed In A Clash

A Chadian soldier and 20 Boko Haram members were killed in a clash in the restive Lake Chad region near Nigeria, a Chadian military officer told AFP Saturday.

The incident occurred on Friday on an islet named Tchoukou Hadje, the officer said, adding that five soldiers were wounded.

“Twenty Boko Haram members were killed and a large amount of weapons was recovered,” he said. “The Chadian army lost one member.”

Two Chadian soldiers including a captain were killed in an ambush in the area a month ago in the first attack by the Nigerian jihadist group on Chadian soil since May last year in which nine soldiers died.

Boko Haram, a militant movement opposed to Western influence and seeking an Islamic state based on Sharia law, has caused the deaths of at least 20,000 people since it took up arms in 2009 in Nigeria.

Neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger have all joined the military effort by Nigeria to crush Boko Haram.

AFP.

Boko Haram Warns Against Female Education

Following the release of the Dapchi school girls, Boko Haram insurgents have warned parents in the northeast of Nigeria to stop female education.

According to reports while dropping the girls, members of the Islamic terrorist group had told parents not to put their daughters in school.

“Don’t ever put your daughters in school again,” witnesses say Boko Haram warns as Nigerian schoolgirls freed, tweeted Associated Press on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Dapchi town is on lockdown as security officials poured into the town to track down fleeing insurgents.

Residents confirmed sounds of helicopters and surveillance aircraft hovering

Boko Haram, it was learnt, used the same vehicles used in abducting the schoolgirls last month in their school to drop them off at the center of Dapchi town on Wednesday.

Police Warns Borno Residents On Impending Attack

The Borno State police command has issued a warning to residents to be alert as there is an impending attack by Boko Haram using vehicles loaded with explosives in Maiduguri.

The statement was signed and released by Ahmed Bello, an assistant commissioner of police in the command, who said the attack could take place in different parts of the city therefore the security organs in the state have been mobilised to strategic locations to avert its possible occurrence.

The Borno state police command in collaboration with “Operation Lafiya Dole” high command wishes to draw the attention of the general public that information at the disposal of the theatre command reveals that dislodged and rampaging Boko Haram terrorists have concluded arrangements to attack parts of Maiduguri metropolis notably, populated/crowed areas to maximize casualty through the use of vehicles fully primed with IEDs. Consequently, security forces have adequately deployed resources to counter and frustrate this evil plan of the heartless terrorists.

The command therefore, wishes to call upon Borno people and the public at large to promptly alert security personnel of any suspected person(s), suspicious movement, vehicles, objects, etc for prompt action. Be rest assured that such information and informants would be treated with utmost confidentiality.

Finally, with the renewed commitment of the theatre command leadership and all security agencies the general public is once again reassured of the determination of security forces to protect lives and property” he said

 

11 Hit By Renewed Attacks On Maiduguri

A suicide explosion in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, has caused the death of two people.

The police spokesperson in Borno, Joseph Kwaji, said the two victims were the girls who wore the explosives. He said nine other residents sustained injuries.

He said the girls wore suicide vests hidden under their garments and tried to sneak into Maiduguri late on Wednesday.

Vigilant security personnel who spotted the girls as they advanced towards a suburb of the city very close to the Giwa military barracks, ordered them to stop. But the defiant girls kept moving until they detonated their explosives.

The two of them died instantly, while nine residents of the neighbourhood sustained injuries from the shrapnel from the blasts.

“On 14/03/2018 at about 20:25 hours, two female suicide bombers in an attempt to infiltrate into Alikaramanti area, after Giwa Barracks, were intercepted by security operatives on duty. The two female suicide bombers thereby hurriedly detonated the IED strapped to their bodies killing themselves and injuring nine others,” the spokesperson said.

“Explosives Ordnance Department (EOD) have rendered area safe, while corpses and injured victims have been evacuated to the hospital. Normalcy has since been restored in the area.”