Army General leading Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram removed

Major-General-I-Attahiru
Major General Ibrahim Attahiru

The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Attahiru Ibrahim, has been removed from that position.

Mr. Ibrahim’s redeployment comes three days after Boko Haram insurgents carried out one of the deadliest attacks on Biu town in Borno where at least 18 people were killed and 52 others seriously injured.

Mr. Ibrahim, a major general, took over the command of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North-east in May 2017. The former occupant of that position was Lucky Irabor who was redeployed to coordinate the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF.

Boko Haram attacks appear to have increased since Mr. Ibrahim assumed duties with scores of suicide bombings, mostly by teenage girls, occurring between May and December.

The Chief of Army staff, Tukur Buratai, apparently unimpressed with the way the operation was going, had in August issued a rare ultimatum of ‘40 days’ for the theatre commander to arrest the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, and put an end to the incessant Boko Haram attacks. Neither was achieved.

The insurgents continued to stage daring attacks including on military formations.

Though a large number of Boko Haram hideouts were raided and many terrorists including kingpins reportedly killed by soldiers during the period, well over 50 soldiers including officers were killed between May and now.

Some of the most recent cases were the ambush in Magumeri that caused the death of about 19 soldiers and kidnap of some oil explorers.

The military also suffered a major loss of some 15 soldiers including a commander in November when Boko Haram insurgents attacked troops’ location in Sassawa village near the Yobe State capital, Damaturu.

Also in November, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, witnessed one of the worst suicide bombings in recent times when four female suicide bombers attacked Muna Gari, a suburb of the city, killing 14 persons.

About 45 persons were also killed and 47 critically injured in November after a suicide bombers detonated their explosives in a mosque in Yola, Adamawa State.

Another suicide bombing was witnessed on December 2 when two teenage suicide bombers attacked Biu market killing at least 18 persons and injuring 52 others.

About two weeks ago, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, paid a sudden visit to the Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri. Mr. Ibrahim had a closed door session with the defence chief. No reason was given for the CDS’ visit without other service chiefs.

Mr. Ibrahim has now been replaced by Rogers Nicholas, also a major general.

The new Theatre Commander was, until his appointment, the Chief of Logistics at Army headquarters in Abuja. Before that, he was Commander of the Special Security Task Force in Jos as well as Chief of Civil Military Affairs at Army headquarters.

Mr. Ibrahim is believed to have been redeployed to the Army headquarters as the Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans.

Although the army has not officially announced the new deployments to Nigerians, the military radio in Borno has already made the announcements.

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