The emergence of Musab Al-Barnawi, a Boko Haram factional leader, was a boost to the Nigerian Army’s counter insurgency efforts, an official has said.
The Commander of the Lake Chad Basin Multi-National force, Lamidi Adeosun, made this known in a telephonic press briefing with selected media outfits, including PREMIUM TIMES, at the United States’ Consulate Office in Lagos Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Adeosun, a major general, was joined on the platform by Thomas Waldhauser, Commander of United States’ Africa Command, AFRICOM; and Osman Soubagleh, Commander of African Union Mission in Somalia.
According to Mr. Adeosun, the conflict between Abubakar Shekau and Mr. Al-Barnawi has boosted the military’s operations in the north-east due to the weak link between the rival groups.
“The split is assisting the operations in a way,” he said, adding that “the linkage between his group and Shekau’s group has been severed.”
Mr. Al-Barnawi is believed to be the son of Muhammed Yusuf, the late Boko Haram founder.
Commenting further, Mr. Adeosun noted that the development weakened the stranglehold the group had on the north-east region.
Mr. Shekau pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in March 2015. But in August last year, the Islamic State, based in Iraq and Syria, announced that Mr. Al-Barnawi was in charge of its “West Africa province”.
Before forming his faction, Al-Barnawi, whose father Mohammed Yusuf founded Boko Haram in 2002 with Mr. Shekau as his deputy, had criticised the latter’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians and fellow Muslims.
Instead of suicide bombings causing mass casualties, his faction vowed to concentrate on fighting “Christian crusaders” in Africa, as well as the government and military.
“He has been challenging the military”, Mr. Adeosun admitted, adding that the military is ahead of the situation and would nip the menace in the bud.
The Nigerian military has in the past two years recovered several territories initially controlled by the Boko Haram in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states. The group is, however, still able to carry out impromptu attacks on military and civilians as well as suicide bombings on civilian targets.
Each of the two Boko Haram factions is believed to hold some of the 195 Chibok girls who were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014. President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his government’s determination to do everything possible to secure the release of the girls.
On the fears expressed in certain quarters about possible breakdown in international support for the troops in African countries, especially by the U.S., Mr. Adeosun said the fears were unfounded, adding that support is based on common grounds.
“The fears are not necessary… the (international) support is based on common ground because… all operations rely on their main (national) support.
” What comes (from outside) is an additional support,” he noted.
While commenting on the crisis in Somalia, the three generals reinstated their commitment to bringing lasting peace to the nation soon, adding that “Somalia is for Somalis.”
Mr. Soubagleh, on his part, urged the academic community, civil society organisations, the media and religious institution in Somalia to orientate the populace, in order to weaken the recruitment drive of the Al-shabab terror group.
The generals addressed the press immediately after the African Chiefs of Defense, CHOD, Conference held in Stuttgart.
More than 30 journalists participated in the telephone conference across Africa.