War against terrorism may never end – President Tinubu

Insecurity in Nigeria has become source of great concern for all Nigerians, with each passing day bringing new means, more daring approaches, and brazen displays of flagrant contempt for constituted authority by violent non-state actors.

More concerning is the continuous growth of terrorism, exacerbated by the participation of terrorist funders. Saturday Vanguard’s findings revealed how some top military officers who attempted to battle terrorists holistically either died in suspicious circumstances or had their plans mishandled.

Former CDS Badeh

One of them was the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, who served under former Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, between 2014 and 2015.

His vehicle was attacked on the evening of Tuesday, December 18, 2018, by gunmen on the Keffi- Abuja expressway, while returning from his farm.

Though two principal suspects who were linked to his murder, said he was killed during a robbery operation, revelations by his close lieutenants revealed that he was killed because he threatened to open a can of worms on the activities of some government officials sponsoring terrorists in Nigeria.

Why he was killed

It would be recalled that while in office as CDS, in October 2014, terrorists briefly occupied his hometown in Vimtim, Adamawa State, and killed one of his cousins who lived next door to his house. His house was burnt, including the hospital he built in memory of his late mother, for the community.

Irked by the terrorists’ effrontery, Saturday Vanguard was reliably informed that the General took some of his trusted lieutenants on a covert operation in Maiduguri.

In into some top government officials “as they were coming out of a meeting with Boko Haram Commanders, in the Nigerian Army underground Armory which was seized by Boko Haram.

“He exercised restraint and ordered us not to shoot. He took pictures of the scene which he never released to the government when he retired in July 2015, two months after Buhari assumed office as President..

Threat to expose sponsors

He was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on the directive of Buhari, over alleged misconduct established against some retired and serving officers in the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Army , of which late Badeh was included.

Sources alleged that Badeh’s inclusion was orchestrated by some government officials who got wind of the picture he took during the covert operation in Maiduguri. Sources further stated that he was never given the go-ahead to arrest or investigate those he saw with Boko Haram Commanders.

Sources said, “ Do you know he was assassinated because he threatened to expose government officials sponsoring terrorists in Nigeria? He threatened he would expose them at the next hearing in court. Before you knew it ,boom! He was assassinated.

“Till date , the only thing Nigerians were made to understand was that he was killed by robbers. If a whole General could be killed that way , then who is safe?

Fani Kayode’s view

In a press statement released by former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Badeh’s demise, he disclosed that it happened one month after the former CDS raised the alarm that two hooded men tried to break into his Asokoro house.

Part of the statement read: “ He knew many of the government’s excesses and secrets, he worked quietly against them from behind the scenes and, by his numerous actions and interventions, he saved the lives of many of his Middle Belt people.

“First it was Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, the Fleet Commander of the Western Naval Command, who reports suggest was conducting an investigation into secret arms sales to Boko Haram, that was assassinated.

“Then it was ex-Military Intelligence Chief and the former Director of Administration of Defence Headquarters, General Alkali, who was privy to a lot of damning information, that was assassinated.

“Then it was the ex-Chief of Defence Staff under whose leadership Boko Haram was annihilated, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, that has been assassinated.

“All three of these worthy and noble warriors and sons of Nigeria were murdered in the last one year (2017-2018) and all three had quite a story to tell about what was really going on in certain circles in our country! I urge our people to ponder on this and to think, think and think again! ”, the statement read.

Botched attempt to end Boko Haram

These suspected financiers were reportedly responsible for the most botched attempt to address insurgency at its early stage during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure in office.

He did not mince words when he admitted during a church service at the National Ecumenical Centre as part of the annual Armed Forces remembrance day celebrations, that members of the extremist Boko Haram sect had succeeded in infiltrating his government and planting its members in government agencies and security outfits.

Western Military intervention frustrated

Sources disclosed that at that time, one of the Western countries’ Military which volunteered to help the Jonathan’s government annihilate terrorists, left in anger , after its planned operation was leaked to terrorists.

Saturday Vanguard learned that a meeting between some selected government officials, top Military officers and the foreign Military was held, after which a survey of the Sambisa forest was conducted to map out strategy on how to get the terrorists .

A retired General in the Nigerian Army who claimed to be privy of the information expressed shock that what was supposed to be a top secret operation was leaked to the terrorists.

The General who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “ After the survey of the Sambisa forest, the plan was to use ‘ humane warfare’ which involved the use of sleeping gas to stun everyone in the forest, capture them alive , separate abducted victims from the terrorists and take detailed profile of the terrorists to ascertain the exact terrorist group they belong .

“But to everyone’s amazement, on the day of the operation, when the drones were flown to the forest , all the terrorists were discovered to be wearing respirator masks! The foreign Military left in anger. To date, no one knows how the terrorists got wind of the sting operation, which some top Military officers weren’t privy to.

Sabotage

Between 2011 and 2014, some military hardware reportedly procured were alleged to be below standard . Sources revealed that the difficulty to procure weapons outside the country that would match those of the terrorists was attributed to hindrances from financiers of terrorists.

Even in the face of the war then, soldiers were killed like chickens due to the limited and unsophisticated weapons that could not match those of the enemies then.

Fifth columnist in Military

The Military is aware there are saboteurs from within its ranks, who connive with the terrorists by leaking operational road-maps and strategies to the insurgents which resulted in soldiers being ambushed and killed by terrorists.

These saboteurs as gathered willfully donate arms and ammunition, including armoured personnel carriers, APC to terrorists.

Just last year , a Nigerian Army Lance Corporal and instructor with the Nigerian Army Special Forces in Geidam, Yobe State, identified simply as Jubrin, committed suicide after he was exposed as a Boko Haram agent and collaborator.

An army intelligence unit was reported to have tracked Jibrin, who disappeared from his duty post to Gashua , where he was seen among the Boko Haram terrorists who had earlier attacked Geidam town, in Yobe community.

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 travelling bag without a valid Identity Card. Preliminary investigation further led to the recovery of one AK47 rifle, three empty magazines and one magazine loaded with 10 f 7.62 mm Special.

In other instances, two Nigerian soldiers, Sergeant Alhaji Oloche (05NA/56/1435) and Lance Corporal Namo Daniel (09NA/62/1097) attached to the Operation Yaki security outfit in Kaduna State, were arrested in March 2022 for alleged kidnapping.

Another soldier attached to Headquarters 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, PTE Danladi Hadau (20NA/79/4219), was arrested along with two vigilantes identified as Mustapha Kasim and Ibrahim Mohammed for collaborating with bandits. In this case, they were arrested while attempting to collect ransom around Dumbi Dutse Road, in Zaria, Kaduna State , after orchestrating the abduction of a resident of Dorayi village in the Zaria Local Government Area of the state, Alhaji Lawal Ahmed on March 3, 2022.

The immediate past Chief of Defense Staff , Gen Lucky Irabor, who expressed outrage over activities of such fifth columnists, revealed an increase in cases of aiding and abetting by personnel, in various Theatres of Operations, TOO, in a letter to Field and Operational Commanders of troops, titled, “Need to Educate Personnel on the Implications of Collaborating with the Enemy” and signed by Commodore CE Orji.
The arrests of these personnel are indicative of insider action that has continued to aid the adversary, pertinently with immediate or potential impact on Military operations.

Way forward

To end the senseless killings of Nigerians by terrorists , many senior security agents are of the view that the Federal Government should muster the political will to fish out financiers of terrorists , be they serving government officials or not.

One of such views was shared by former General Officer Commanding,GOC 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Danjuma Ali-Keffi (rtd), in a recent interview, where he disclosed how he was arrested, detained and compulsorily retired, following the revelations of a presidential investigative task force he headed that exposed the involvement of senior government officials, a top banker, and top military brass in terrorism financing

He was quoted as saying”A syndicate, which had an extensive network in the country as well as being affiliated to an international criminal network, was at the centre of moving finances for terrorism for other criminal activities.

”The most worrisome aspect was that some of the individuals involved in terrorism financing of Boko Haram terrorists and who were also involved in procurement and movement of arms and ammunition for BH and other criminal organisations had links with the military.

“It was, thus, apparent that terrorism and insurgency in the North-East, North-West, and North-Central were a criminal enterprise and were largely undertaken with profit rather than any ideology, as the primary motive.

“Thus, we at the BOI arrived at the obvious conclusion that progress cannot be achieved except the financiers, collaborators, supporters and the leadership of the terrorists and insurgents groups are identified and the network dismantled”.

The government knows terror financiers

The notion that terror financiers are allegedly in government circles is not news to the Military and other security agents.

In 2021, Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi(rtd) while barring his mind on insurgents’ attacks on the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA during an interview with a television station, stated categorically that the fight against insurgency was beyond security agencies,

Like Ali-Keffi, he revealed that the centre of gravity of Boko Haram and insurgency in Nigeria were sponsors of the programme!

According to the retired operational Commander who served in the Military Intelligence for 35 years, ”When you have a problem at policy level, what you need to do is to identify the centre of gravity.

“If the President is changing Service Chiefs and buying Tocando, it is not the solution because it is not kinetic. The centre of gravity is what they should look at and that is the sponsors of Boko Haram.

“ When I worked with the DSS in 2007, I was surprised at the tremendous amount of information they had.

They had so much information about what I am talking about. If a fish is going to get spoiled, it must start from the head.

“It has to do with politics, the sponsors. Therefore 10 percent or 20 percent of casualty is allowed to achieve the end game

The end game for them is to just turn the country into a Taliban country. It is a mindset and anything goes.

The problem is not about the terrorists and bandits but the sponsors of Boko Haram are the problems.

“The defense headquarters can’t do anything about that because it lies within the policy strategic level. When they have a policy problem they can’t go beyond their masters. The Defense headquarters can’t conduct any operations that are not sanctioned by the Chief of Armed Forces. This government (previous government ) does not want to solve this problem ,they are escalating it because of tribal issues.

“The INTERPOL has a list of those sponsoring terrorists . The government of Dubai has a list of those people. During the trial of those people that were caught, names were mentioned.

“The government also told us they have arrested 400 sponsors of Boko Haram. Why won’t they try those people and bring peace and harmony to this country”, he asked.

Frustrations

Some security agents who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said on several occasions , suggestions by committees set up by previous governments to end the war against insurgency were watered down due to counter opinions by those suspected to be sponsors of terrorists.

One of the suggestions as gathered was for the Federal Government to procure Blimps.

By the way , blimps are like airships used by the Military for various purposes such as surveillance, communication and transportation.

Sources said, “This equipment can fly some distance. They are used in Afghanistan and Kenya. This would have helped us with intelligence to know where these terrorists are, how they operate and where they go after their operations. This will help us in our operation.But till date, there had been no procurement”
A serving senior officer in one of the security agencies also expressed worry over the difficulty faced by heads of security agencies in the fight against terrorists.

He said, “ Most times when you journalists write, we laugh and shake our heads in pity because most Nigerians are bereft of the true position of things.

“ We are putting in our best to bring this fight to an end. But some saboteurs are frustrating our efforts, by working against decisions that would help tackle the menace. And if anyone acts otherwise , he will be taken off the lane. As it is, our hands are weakened”.

Those who spoke with Saturday Vanguard unanimously stated that except President Bola Tinubu musters the political will to fight this menace by fishing out terror financiers in Nigeria, his administration may end up like previous ones, with increasing killings of innocent and helpless Nigerians

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