An unknown number of Nigerian soldiers are yet to be accounted for after an ambush by Boko Haram insurgents in a community in Borno State, the army has said.
The army said it was battling to save the lives of 19 other soldiers injured during the clash on Thursday.
Operatives of the Civilian-JTF, embedded with the military squad, were also badly injured in the deadly encounter in a village called Nguro Gongon.
The spokesman of the Nigeria army, Sani Usman, said the injured soldiers have been evacuated to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, while a rescue team was deployed to go searching for the missing soldiers.
He did not say how many soldiers were missing.
“Today morning, troops on clearance patrol at Guro Gongon village and environs to rout out remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hibernating therein, destroyed the terrorists’ makeshift camps and recovered quite a number of weapons, equipment and foodstuff in the process,” Mr. Usman, a colonel and acting director of army public relations, said.
“The recovered items include 1 Gun truck mounted with an Anti-Aircraft Gun, a MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, 1 Light Machine Gun, 3 AK-47 rifles and motorcycles.
“However, the gallant soldiers basking on the recorded success, returning to their defensive locations, ran into an ambush by a group of Boko Haram terrorists who came to reinforce their fleeing comrades. The troops fought back gallantly killing several of the insurgents.
“Sadly however, 19 soldiers and 3 civilian JTF members were wounded in action while a few others were missing in action.
“The wounded have been evacuated and are responding to treatment, while a search and rescue party comprising of Special Forces personnel has since been dispatched to establish contact with the missing in action troops, some of whom, as at the time of filing this report, have started returning to their defensive location.
“It is pertinent to state that, no stone would be left unturned until every person involved in the operation has been accounted for,” he said.
July 13, 2016Members of the House of Representatives at plenary
John Ameh, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Wednesday began debating a bill seeking to make non-payment or late payment of salaries by employers a criminal offence.
The bill covered both the public and private sectors.
It was sponsored by the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
However, the House stepped down the bill after ta brief debate for further consultations.
This came after some members observed that what the bill sought to achieve was already captured by existing labour laws.
The long title of the bill read, “A Bill for an Act to Prohibition Late Payment, Non-Payment and Under-payment of Workers’ Wages, Pensions and other Emoluments in Nigeria and Prescribe Penalties for Violations and other Related Matters.”
But, earlier, Gbajabiamila defended the bill,saying that news of workers being owed salaries for months was troubling.
He argued that the affected workers were being denied their rights.
He added, “It infringes on the right to life, which is determined by the quality of that life.
“It infringes on the right to dignity because the person goes begging from neighbours, family and friends to feed his children.”
He also noted that the workers lost their self esteem.
Gbajabiamila explained, “It builds resentment. You cannot tell a child who sees the effects of his parents not being paid, to be patriotic.
“It encourages criminality; if we talk about security, we must talk about prompt payment of salaries.”
One member from Ebonyi State, Mr. Linus Okorie, noted that the Minimum Wage Act also took care of the provisions of Gbajabiamila’s bill.
The Chairman, House Committee on Rules/Business, Mr. Orker Jev, shared the same view as Okorie, saying that an option was to amend the the Minimum Wage Act.
The speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the session, advised Gbajabiamila to step down the bill, having read the mood of members.
The majority leader reluctantly stepped down the bill, but he agreed to consult further with his colleagues before presenting it again.
Nigerian Army troops clearing Boko Haram enclaves along Bitta to Tokumbere, Sambisa Forest, Borno state
Dozens of Boko Haram fighters were reported killed Tuesday as soldiers of the Nigerian Army night engaged the suspected terrorists in hours of shootout.
The insurgents met their waterloo after they attacked a military base in recently recaptured Kangarwa in the north of Borno State, officials said.
It was the biggest fight for the troops in recent weeks, army authorities said.
Two soldiers died in the fighting as the insurgents invaded the base with suicide bombs.
Kangarwa was until recently the strongest stronghold of the Boko Haram terrorists after their dislodgment from Sambisa and Alagarno.
The chief of defence staff was on Thursday in the Kangarwa frontline to commend gallant soldiers shortly after it was captured by the troops.
But on Tuesday night the insurgents came back to attack the soldiers that were still holding on to the recaptured territory.
The spokesman of the Nigeria Army, Sani Usman, said the ensuing shootout lasted for about three hours as troops backed by joint air support from the Nigerian and Chadian Air Forces effectively dislodged the attacking gunmen leaving dozens of their bodies in the surrounding bush.
Colonel Usman’s statement reads:
“Troops of 119 Task Force Battalion stationed in Kangarwa northern Borno State, have successfully repelled an attack by Boko Haram terrorists Tuesday evening.
“The attack which started at about 6.30pm, was successfully repelled after about 3 hours of exchange of heavy gunfire that inflicted tremendous casualty on the terrorists. Unfortunately, 2 of our gallant soldiers paid the supreme price, while 7 were wounded in action.
“Due to poor visibility, the number of terrorists killed could not be ascertained for now.
The bodies of the gallant soldiers and those wounded in action are being evacuated while the unit is carrying out mop up operation. It should be noted that the successful repelling of the attack was made possible by support from the Nigerian and Chadian Air Force fighter jets”.
Internally Displaced Persons in Monguno town of Borno State were saved from what could have turned out a deadly attack when vigilant troops of the Nigeria Army spotted three female suicide advancing towards their camp and gunned down two of them in the early hours of Tuesday, officials said.
One of the suicide bombers was able to detonate her device hidden under her garment amidst the shooting and got two innocent civilians injured.
This happened as another detachment of the troops, still in northern part of Borno, was able to ambush a gang of Boko Haram members conveying supplies of logistics for their members somewhere near Kukawa local government area of Borno State.
Kukawa is just about 48km northwest of Monguno.
The soldiers were able to subdue the moving Boko Haram members by killing four of them. They intercepted several litres of different of vehicle fuel, cache of arms and IEDs.
Spokesman of the Nigeria Army, Sani Kukasheka Usman who revealed these in two press statements, said the troop were in good form and continuing with the operation in the disturbed region.
The two statements read in full:
“Today at about 6.15am, 3 female Boko Haram terrorists suicide bombers attempted to attack innocent Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fetching water at a borehole located about 3 kilometres, outskirt of Monguno town along Marte road.
“Our vigilant troops detected and gunned them down, killing both instantly.
Unfortunately, the explosive they were strapped with exploded and injured 2 civilians nearby. The injured persons have been evacuated and are receiving medical attention at the 8 Task Force Division’s medical facility.
“However, the third suicide bomber that followed a different route, detonated some distance before troops deployment along the same road at about 7.10am.
“Troops have cordoned off the general area and imposed restriction of movement into Monguno while they the general area and make it safe”.
“At the early hours of today, troops of 118 Task Force Battalion, 8 Task Force Division sprang a surprised ambush on some elements of Boko Haram terrorists along Gerere Junction, Kukawa Local Government Area, on the northern part of Borno State.
“The Boko Haram terrorists were suspected to be fleeing from the advancing troops of 119 Task Force Battalion presently mopping the general area of Kangarwa in Kukawa Local Government Area.
“During the operation, the troops killed 4 Boko Haram terrorists carrying logistics items. The troops recovered 48 Jerry cans containing 1,440 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) Automatic Gasoline Oil (AGO), 8 Motorcycles out of which 2 were destroyed, 21 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition, 2 AK-47 rifles, an unprimed Improvised Explosive Device and a 36 Henagar Hand Grenade, as well as assorted drugs.
“However, one of the military vehicle and communication equipment were badly damaged from gun shots by the terrorists.
“The troops have continued to intensify vigilance and high level of alertness following concerted efforts of clearing the remnants of the terrorists”.
PhD Candidate in International Relations, University of Nottingham
It is just over a year since General Muhammadu Buhari swept to power amid promises to the Nigerian people that he would succeed where his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan had failed – by defeating the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Buhari’s approach has been twofold: he has pursued a determined military onslaught against Boko Haram and taken some significant steps to boost security in the most affected northeastern states. And he has started rooting out corruption in the military.
On Jonathan’s watch, three Nigerian states – Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – were placed under a state of emergency because of the deadly insurgency. Several communities in these states had fallen to the terrorist group. Millions of people have been internally displaced, sheltering in refugee camps within Nigeria. Others have fled to neighbouring states.
On taking office the former military leader-turned-president set December 2015 as the deadline within which to conclusively obliterate Boko Haram. Despite the bold steps he’s taken, the insurgents remain undefeated six months after the deadline expired.
Instead, they have brazenly engaged the Nigerian military in direct combat resulting in the deaths of people. They have also taken to detonating explosives in public places – including suicide attacks in northeastern towns in Nigeria including Zaria, Malari, Potiskum and Zambari Muna near Maiduguri.
Despite the intransigence and deadly attacks, some progress has been made since Buhari assumed office. But more needs to be done.
As unpalatable as it may seem to many, the Nigerian government cannot shy away from the fact that it will need to sit down with Boko Haram and begin the process of peace building. After all, there are precedents in Colombia and Northern Ireland and elsewhere, where deadly foes eventually met to make peace.
What’s been done so far
In his inaugural address as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29 2015 Buhari ordered the relocation of the army headquarters from Abuja to Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, in the heart of the insurgency. He pledged that the army headquarters would remain there until Boko Haram was defeated.
The president also reorganised the military in an effort to end corruptionand restore the dented image of the Nigerian army. He replaced top military commanders deemed to have either corruptly enriched themselves with funds meant for military, or who had acted unprofessionally by indulging in politics.
The move lifted the morale of despondent soldiers who had been deprived of essential equipment, often due to the corruption and greed of their superiors. The new commanders also set to work restoring the army’s battered image.
The “cleansing” of the military afforded Nigeria the opportunity to reestablish trust with leading states in the global fight against terrorism, notably France, the United Kingdom and the US. All pledged their support in sharing intelligence information with the new administration in its effort to defeat Boko Haram.
Another plus was that cross border Boko Haram activities saw Nigeria and its neighbours put aside their longstanding border disputes to confront their common enemy. The terrorist group now finds itself facing an 8,700-strong multinational joint task force composed of soldiers from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
The military offensive has succeeded in the recapture of territories previously held by the militants. It’s important to note, though, that some of the feats of success occurred a few weeks into Buhari’s administration. This was due to the pre-electoral security measures put in place by the Jonathan administration.
Thus, one year after Buhari became president, the terror acts that made Boko Haram the deadliest terrorist group in the world have been significantly contained – largely thanks to the multinational joint task force’s efforts. But the menace has yet to be totally eliminated.
Attacks on communities in the northeastern states – where people now face famine – and communities in Cameroon and Chad, which border with Nigeria, continue. A number of issues still need to be addressed.
So far only two out of the more than 200 kidnapped Chibok girls have been rescued by the Nigerian military. Most of the girls are still being held in the fortress of the militants – the Sambisa forest.
Buhari has pledged his government’s resolve to negotiate the release of the girls since he assumed office. But there is no evidence of progress. In addition, thousands of people are still displaced, both internally and externally. And the militants continue to attack communities.
The insurgency also continues to have a debilitating effect on the livelihoods of the people living in the three most heavily affected northeastern states, and hopelessness reigns.
Let peace building begin
The war is certainly not over, and it is puerile to assume that war against terrorism can be won with only military might.
It is indeed obvious that military power has not succeeded in eliminating global terrorism. In Nigeria, no matter what the challenges associated with the intransigence of militants are, the political strategy suitable for getting the country back is effective peace building. Admittedly, this is not the preferred approach of the global hawks in the fight against terrorism
The challenge is that peace building takes longer to fully realise its objectives. But Buhari would do well to follow the advice of the 19th century Prussian military strategist, Carl Von Clausewitz. He famously asserted that warfare was a continuation of politics by other means:
We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.
To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war” (and) In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity.
These point to one thing – peacemaking. Their argument is simple: military action alone is not sustainable and risks failing unless it is founded on a concrete political strategy that sustains it.
What would it involve? A peace process would provide amnesty for former combatants as well as their reintegration into the civilian life. It would also provide for a process of reconciliation.
In the case of Nigeria, it would also require the provision of socioeconomic opportunities for the devastated northeastern states, which are important for sustainable peace to be achieved in the long run.
The President’s decision to negotiate for the release of the Chibok girls is the first peace overture to be extended to the militants. The government needs to follow through with it and not relent, no matter the difficulties.
Gunmen in southern Nigeria have killed a local driver and kidnapped as many as seven people, at least three of whom are Australian citizens and one an Australian resident, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday.
There was some initial confusion over the number of victims and nationalities of those involved, as police in Nigeria gave conflicting accounts.
The workers, two of whom police said later escaped, were contractors for cement company Lafarge Africa. They were attacked on the outskirts of the city of Calabar at around 05:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), police said.
Calabar is a coastal city 570 kms (354 miles) east of Lagos, and the capital of Cross River State in the Niger Delta region, where both criminal gangs and militants have been active.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the incident a “very serious kidnapping” in response to a journalist’s question and urged calm in reporting the incident.
“These are the facts as we know them: three Australians and one Australian resident were among seven people kidnapped in an attack on an Australia contractor’s operations in Nigeria. One person was killed in the attack,” Turnbull told reporters.
Two expatriates managed to flee, said Irene Ugbo, a spokeswoman for Cross River state police, adding that she did not know the nationality of any of the workers feared still held.
Ugbo had earlier said that only two of the kidnapped were Australians, and one was a New Zealander, while another police officer said a South African had been abducted.
The kidnappers had not contacted police, she said.
Kidnappings of foreigners are common in the Delta region, which holds most of the crude oil whose sales make about 70 percent of Nigeria’s national income.
OPEC member Nigeria was Africa’s top oil producer until a recent spate of attacks on oil facilities pushed it behind Angola. Production has fallen from 2.2 million barrels at the start of the year to around 1.6 million barrels, helping push up global oil prices.
Lafarge Africa said it had been informed of the incident by Australian contractor Macmahon.
“Macmahon is working with the security agencies to resolve this situation,” said Viola Graham-Douglas, a spokeswoman for Lafarge Africa.
Macmahon Holdings Ltd, which was placed on a trading halt in the wake of the incident, confirmed the incident in a statement late on Thursday.
“We are working to ensure the safe return of all the men involved and are in communication with their families,” the company said.
“Macmahon is providing support to the men’s families and we ask the media to respect their privacy at this time. Counselling has also been made available for all Macmahon employees and their families.”
(Reporting by Ani Akpan, Anamesere Igboeroteonwu, Alexis Akwagyiram and Matt Siegel and Jim Regan in SYDNEY; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Andrew Roche and Simon Cameron-Moore)