The ellusive Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was a hairs breath away from capture. Soldiers were very close to finally capturing him dead or alive, but then he got a helping hand and escaped. By who?
By the Nigerian Army !
In late February 2018, the Nigerian army was carrying out an operation in the Sambisa forest. Surveillance planes spotted Abubakar Shekau and a handful of fighters in a remote camp and vectored ground forces to the location. In less than an hour tanks and armoured vehicles with hundreds of troops from Nigeria and Cameroon were on the move. This was not going to be a cheesy ” catch him alive” operation. The Nigerian army was ready to pummel him and the entire camp to smithering if that was what it will come down to, either way, there was no escape this time for Abubakar Shekau.
They were about 5 kilometres from his base, when they ordered to STOP for FOUR DAYS !!
………….. and then this happened !
They were attacked by several cars filled with explosives. Seven soldiers from Nigeria and Cameroon were killed instantly, with dozens more injured. According to a BBC report soldiers, livid with rage could be heard complaining about the order to STOP. Several vehicles were badly damaged and the operation was forced to retreat.
A week later they went to Shekau’s camp, but he was gone.
A member of the vigilante force, whose knowledge of the terrain was valuable to the troops spoke to BBC about the operation. He was with the army when they entered Shekau’s camp
In his word :
Shekau ran away. He left his car, his jacket, his chewing stick and a pistol. I saw them with my own eyes.
A few days later the Barbarian, Abubakar Shekau released a video. He ridiculed claims by the Nigerian government that the group has been defeated.
Adam, a former Boko Haram fighter who defected from Boko Haram in January, and is now in army custody. He rose to the rank of Commander after seven years with the group, and he was there as the army advanced towards their main camp.
In his words :
There was a serious exchange of gunfire between Boko Haram and the Nigerian army. Many of the insurgents are killed.
How well armed are Boko Haram?
They are still armed, although most of what they say is propaganda. They put people who are physically fit in their videos, but most of them are suffering.
Though many have defected, he thinks there are between two to three thousand Boko Haram fighters left.
Now anybody who have been following the Nigerian army operations in the Sambisa knows that this is not the first time the Nigerian army blotches fails to make good use of critical intelligence gathered by the air force on the ground. Against this backdrop i think its time the Nigerian Air Force is given the primary role and authority to take out high value targets like Abubakar Shekau. The CH-3 should be armed at all times and rather than relay the information to the army, should have taken out that camp.
Alternatively saturating the camp with artillery fire while soldiers lie in wait for a mop up operation would have been a better tactical approach, giving Boko Haram little warning and no time to escape. It is beyond me why army troops kilometres away were given the task to clear the camp when stand-off weapons could have made minced meat of that camp.
And so again the man with NINE lives escapes again, no thanks to the army’s poor tactical decision and whoever gave he order to Stop the advance and wait for Boko Haram to rig trucks with high explosives to kill seven soldiers before escaping.
There is no iota of doubt in my mind that the end of Boko Haram may not be in the interest of some forces, hence the need to prolong the war for as long as possible. World War II lasted just seven years. The war between the Soviet Union and A-STAN lasted just eight years. The civil war lasted three years. Nigeria meanwhile is entering its 10th year of its war with Boko Haram. This is far from normal and is already the longest war in Nigeria’s history.