The Chadian military forces, as predicted, have unleashed remarkable venom on the positions of the terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin. On Monday, March, 30 as President Idris Derby took to the war front in a major military campaign to flush out the terror groups comprising the remnants of the Jama’atu Ahlil Sunnah (JAS), also known as Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP) from their assault and defense positions in the Chadian territories, it offered a window for other national allied forces like neighbouring Nigeria to ramp up a field campaign to finally put the groups in their wrong footings.
But as is now evident, this was probably a game-changing, turn-around moment in the decade long war against the terror groups for which Nigeria failed to copy. With assault missiles and mortars raining on the positions of the terror groups, the insurgents are beating a fast retreat southwards into the Nigerian territories.
Without synergy and seemingly zero military leverage for the Nigerian troops to hold unto against the fleeing terror groups, the insurgents are unsurprisingly getting a free pass and likely to soon open new positions and new operational bases with fortification camps to the booth.
On Monday, immediately after the Muslim Margreb prayers, local vigilantes and villagers around Magumeri and Gubio reported a mass exodus of ISWAP fighters from the Lake Chad, the fighters and their families crossed to the Alagarno axis, a place the insurgents named Timbuktu.
The location is where about 100 Nigerian soldiers were killed by ISWAP in a recent ambush. This was the same location where the Nigerian war theatre Commander, Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, now redeployed, appeared in a video following fierce bombardment and heavy casualty suffered by his troops in a recent attack from ISWAP.
True to the threats issued earlier by the Chadian authorities, their military forces have ramped up targeted and sweeping air, ground and amphibious operations against the positions of the two dominant terror groups, Boko Haram and ISWAP simultaneously on all fronts. Tagged “Operation Boma Anger,” this campaign immediately suggests that Chad had created a parallel military-strategic vision outside of that promoted by the Multinational Joint Task Force, (MJTF) and now fully determined to take its fate in its hands.
Chad, the host country to the operational base of the MJTF located in N’Djamena, can point to supposedly legitimate grounds to hold some grouse against Nigeria’s leadership of the task force. A few months ago, Chad withdrew her troops from further participation in the task force led by Nigeria. Sources in diplomatic circles familiar with the spat hinted that the Chadian authorities who had complained about the weight of personnel overhead for its troops participating in the multinational military campaign were disappointed that having pledged to pick the bills on behalf of Chad, Nigeria had reneged and left the Chadians in the lurch for several months unable to pay.
The Chadian solo offensive launched on Sunday, March 29, 2020, involved large scale deployment of troops, helicopters, gun trucks, and armoured vehicles. Derby had earlier announced that the killing of 100 Chadian soldiers will never go unpunished. Gunboats of Chadian amphibious units have also joined the offensive. The neighbouring Niger Republic, also a member of the multinational military alliance, HumAngle was informed by military forces, has expressed a desire to support the Chadian offensive.
This is not the first time, perhaps that the Chadian authorities are flagging off such military offensive. In March 2015, Niger and Chad launched a “ground and air” offensive against Boko Haram positions in northeastern Nigeria.
While Chadian forces are forcing the terrorists to beat a retreat, Nigerian troops, conversely, seem to be on the receiving end. The multiple battalions of the Nigerian military are currently bogged down trying to fend off the forays of ISWAP in Alagarno forest for the past couple of days.
For Nigeria, what is clear is that funding this war will become steadily more Herculean with the oil price at the internal market down to $20 a barrel. Nigeria benchmarked its 2020 budget funding at $57 per barrel and operates on a near-total dependence on the oil revenue for its survival.
Local vigilantes aligned with Nigerian military troops in the battlefronts, HumAngle sources reveal, are already kicking against the seeming lack of ambition and tenacity of display in the field tactics of the military forces. The Vigilantes were believed to be of the opinion that its counterpart unit in Gubio would have responded differently to the opportunity created by the Chadian military push against the insurgents.
Additional reporting by Murtala Abdullahi.