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Criminals, terrorists on the run as Nigerian Military Warlords Slug It Out

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Criminals, terrorists on the run as Nigerian Military Warlords Slug It Out

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Truth Nigeria

The bombing raids are splintering forests in five states. The Army is attacking here, retreating there. Some bandit kingpins want to negotiate peace; others are kidnapping whole villages. It’s too soon to predict where all of this is going, but it’s clear the Tinubu Administration is sending terrorist warlords a message: “a New Sheriff is in Town.”

In contrast to the dainty pace of military campaigns under the previous president, the revamped military that took command in May of 2023 has marching orders to attack kidnap gangs, oil thieves and Boko Haram insurgents in their sanctuaries. Benue State, a killing field neglected by Nigerian military for years, is neglected no more: on Monday, April 29, troops of Operation Whirl Stroke scattered terrorist bandits from their hideout in Vingir Village, in Katsina Ala County (LGA) in Benue state after a gunfight and moved later to confront a terrorist gang in neighboring Taraba State, as reported by Zagazola.

Airstrikes on Saturday, April 27, 2024, targeting terrorist strongholds in Shiroro County in Niger State, in Kagara forest of Zamfara State and operators of illegal refineries in River State in the Niger Delta region are carrying a message.

During just the last three months the Nigerian army has laid claim to killing 64 terrorist bandit leaders, and in Saturday’s strike in Zamfara, the Air Force almost got the murderous Bello Turji, commander of one of the nation’s largest gangs. It has reported that 2,351 terrorists and gang mercenaries have been taken out of the fight as well. The Air Force has continued pounding the hideouts of the Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgencies in the Lake Chad region deploying their superior weapon, the A-29 Super Turcano fighter bomber acquired with help of the United States in 2021.

In Borno the fight with elements of Boko Haram has been a see-saw war for five years. On Saturday the civilian paramilitary in Borno took a gut punch: eight members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) died from an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). The over-stretched military fights insurgency is five different regions of the country daily.

The air raid Saturday in the swamps of Nigeria’s oil country destroyed 18 illegal refineries and ships carrying stolen crude oil in Rivers State, according to an Air Force spokesman, Edward Gabkwet.

But 600 miles away in the gold country of the vast and lawless Niger State, Nigerian aircraft have pounded Shiroro County where Boko Haram insurgents allied with Islamist Fulani bandits have embedded themselves for three years. Air Force missiles took out bandit terrorist leaders according to Air Force spokesman, Edward Gabkwet.

Why so many attacks simultaneously?
Late Major A.G. Mohammed. Photo credit: Daily Trust.
Late Major A.G. Mohammed. Photo credit: Daily Trust.
General C.G. Musa. Photo credit: Facebook/Defence Headquarters Nigeria.
General C.G. Musa. Photo credit: Facebook/Defence Headquarters Nigeria.
The CJTF’s vehicle after the locally-made bomb explosion. Photo credit: @ZagazOlaMakama
The CJTF’s vehicle after the locally-made bomb explosion. Photo credit: @ZagazOlaMakama
“The months of persistent attacks and degrading of the terrorists by the military have led the forces of terrorists, bandits, and Boko Haram to combine their might together in confronting the military,” according to a former naval officer and security analyst, Navy Captain Umar Bakori. “The Fulani terrorist Boko Haram members seemed to be working together in Niger State,” Bakori went on to say, “while Fulani terrorists are also bringing reinforcement from Niger, Mali, and Mauritania,” he added.

Battle for Shiroro Region
The disorganized but deadly bandit terrorist gangs, numbering in the tens of thousands, have counter-attacked in Niger, Zamfara and Katsina States.

In Shiroro, the contest between military and terrorists for control of the wealthy and strategically important Shiroro (Local Governance Area) County has been intense for years. The county is situated in the North-central part of Nigeria and is famous for its natural resources as well as hydroelectric generation. The 17 hostages taken by terrorists Kaduna State on Feb. 18, were force-marched to a terrorist camp in eastern Shiroro County and may be under guard there today.

The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) or Boko Haram (Western Learning Forbidden) have staging areas in Shiroro Lake area, according to Security experts consulted by TruthNigeria

Terrorist-bandit counterattacks started on April 19 when the Nigerian Army suffered a deadly ambush in Gada and Allawa precincts in Shiroro County, when two officers and four soldiers were killed.

Musa Ibrahim, a resident of Karaga, tells Truth Nigeria what transpired.

“The soldiers went on a rescue mission (April 19) following a distress call by villagers from Gada and Karaga; however, Boko Haram terrorists, who had gotten wind of the rescue attempt, laid an ambush on the men of 1 Division, Nigeria Army.

“On approaching Karaga, where the distress call emanated, the Boko Haram terrorists sprang their surprise attack on the Army patrol, killing two officers immediately, “Ibrahim told TruthNigeria.

“However, the troops repositioned and fought out of the trap, killed a number of the terrorists, and pushed into Karaga,” Ibrahim added. According to eyewitness reports in the Daily Trust, the Nigerian Army was lured into the deadly Roro and Rumace communities by a distress call.

Onyema Nwachukwu, the army spokesperson, said in a statement April 28 that troops of 1 division deployed to Erena and Allawa communities in Shiroro LGA of Niger State were ambushed by terrorists while on a fighting patrol to Karaga village.

Nwachukwu said the troops, despite the ambush, engaged the terrorists and eliminated several.

The loss of six soldiers and a civilian volunteer apparently was the last straw for the army. On April 25, the military closed its Allawa forest camp located approximately 30 miles north of the Niger capital of Minna and 15 miles south of the border of Kaduna State.

Armed Biker Invasion in Zamfara
In the Northwest, Zamfara witnessed two scourging attacks; neighboring Katsina State had one, and in nearby Kaduna State, a kidnapping spree in Birnin Gwari communities persisted unabated.

On Wednesday, April 23, Fulani Islamist terrorists reportedly numbering 200 stormed Zurmi County in Zamfara State at about midnight.

The column of bandits mounted on 65 motorcycles with three men to a bike first subdued Zurmi’s local security outfit called Community Protection Guard (CPG), killing three of its members.

They then went immediately to burn the telecommunication masts to keep security agents clueless.

The terrorists further proceeded to the Emir’s Palace, located at the center of the city. Their attempt to kidnap the Emir was thwarted as the Emir went into hiding. Nonetheless, they kidnapped a top official of the Emirate and two other people.

Nigerian Army Major Ambushed in Katsina
A military commander was killed on Thursday evening (April 25) in Katsina State, Nigeria where as many as 51 women kidnapped Feb. 2 are still held as hostages. Major A.G. Mohammed, revered for his commitment to protecting the region, was fatally shot while responding to a call for help from Malali village in Kankara county (Local Government Area).

Reports indicate bandits ambushed Major Mohammed, who was overseeing operations in Yantumaki, Dan Ali, and Kankara communities. The exact details remain under investigation, but some sources say he came to the scene in a pickup truck, potentially due to the unavailability of armored vehicles which left him vulnerable as gunmen believed to be from a kidnapping gang ambushed the vehicle and shot him. A source told Daily Trust that he was shot in the head.

A fierce exchange of fire reportedly erupted as fellow officers attempted to recover Major Mohammed’s body, with another officer sustaining injuries. Kankara has long been a hotspot for bandit activity. Major Mohammed’s death is a blow to the fight against banditry in the community and Katsina as a whole.

Experts Give Analysis to TruthNigeria
Retired Navy Captain Umar argued that the Fulani terrorists are not working as a single, united group or entity.

“Most of these terrorists cannot work together; their activities are not coordinated. However, they have one singular aim. They want to be the sovereign authority in their sphere of influence.

The security expert also gave reasons why he believes Boko Haram is now a formidable power in Niger State.

“The level of sophistication and weapons used, including IED’s means Boko Haram has local affiliates—the Fulani militias,” Umar said.

David Onyilokwu Idah, a former United Nations Human Rights Commission official, said the terrorists are fighting in order to force the Nigerian government to negotiate with them.

“The attacks by terrorists in Zamfara are simply the last kick of a dying horse. The terrorists feel that if they pull their resources together and keep up the attacks for a month or two, they may force the federal and state governments into negotiations,” Idah said.

Veteran journalist Gambo Abubakar notes that the terrorists are changing tactics, resorting to ambushes and improvised explosive devices, targeting senior and middle-level officers.

“This indicates they lack the resources for direct confrontations but are still causing significant damage,” Abubakar said, adding, “They want to force the government, especially the Zamfara state governor, to offer them some form of reprieve.”

Truth Nigeria