By Sumaila Ogbaje
Nigeria has continued to contend with a number of internal security challenges ranging from insurgency and terrorism in the North East, banditry and kidnapping in North West and North Central, oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta and separatists agitation in South East and South West.
In spite of these security challenges, Nigeria has recorded remarkable improvement in security administration in 2022.
The Armed Forces of Nigeria has remained steadfast in restringing peace and security across the country, and had deployed troops across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to tackle all forms of security threats, in collaboration with other security agencies.
The strings of military operations across theatres of operations have lessened the various security threats and impacted positively on the lives of citizens and national development in general.
Although there are close to eleven thousand deaths recorded in 2022, most of the deaths have been due to military actions not from activities of non-state actors.
In North Eastern Nigeria, the activities of Boko-Haram and Islamic States West Africa Province (ISWAP) have been largely tamed.
The destruction caused by the 13-year insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are being addressed, with millions of displaced persons returning home.
Since the beginning of 2022, the tempo of military operation in the North East under the Joint Task Force Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK) has escalated, leading to mass surrender of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists and their family members to troops in different fronts.
Available record revealed that more than 82,000 terrorists and their families have so far surrendered due to the intensity of military onslaught against them. More than 60,000 of those who surrendered did so in 2022, alongside their wives and children.
The onslaught also led to the capture of hundreds of terrorists across the region.
Today, about 900 arrested terrorists are awaiting prosecution, while thousands of the terrorists including their commanders, collaborators and logistics suppliers have been killed in land and air operations.
The successes recorded in the various operations conducted in the region by the military has facilitated the return of peace and stability in most parts of the North East.
This is attested by the fact that most Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned to their ancestral homes while several farmlands hitherto inaccessible due to activities of terrorists, are now being cultivated.
According to the Theatre Command, OPHK, the operations also facilitated the rescue of 11 Chibok school girls who have been in captivity since 2014.
The first of the girls rescued, Hauwa Joseph, was intercepted along with her child at Ngazua in Bama on June 12, followed by Mary Dauda and her child rescued at Gava in Gwoza Local Government Area on June 14, while Ruth Bitrus and her child escaped from Ukuba Boko Haram terrorists camp in Sambisa and was rescued by troops in Bama on June 27.
On July 25, troops also rescued two Chibok girls named Kauna Luka and Hanatu Musa with their children at Aulari in Bama general area, while Aisha Grema who was pregnant was rescued with her four-year-old child in Bama on Aug. 21.
The seventh Chibok girl to be rescued was Falmata Lawal and her child on Aug. 30, in Bama general area.
On Sept. 1, 2022, troops also rescued Asabe Ali and her child who escaped from a terrorists’ camp in Gazuwa, Bama while the ninth Chibok girl, Jinkai Yama was rescued along with three children in Bama on Sep. 2.
Additionally, Yana Pogu and her four children became the 10th Chibok girl rescued by the military in 2022, while the eleventh was Rejoice Senki, who also had two children with her.
The eleven girls rescued in 2022 were listed on the roll of the abducted Chibok School girls as numbers 18, 46, 41, 38, 7, 11, 3, 12, 20, 19 and 70.
Similarly, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has had a very remarkable year in 2022, conducting a total of 1,398 sorties to counter insurgency and banditry across the country.
The Air Officer Commanding, Special Operations Command, AVM Abubakar Abdulkadir, said that NAF had flown over 1,950 hours during various operations between January and December in the North East and North West regions to tackle banditry and insurgency.
NAF intervention in the North West led to the elimination of many top terrorists and bandit commanders, while hundreds of kidnapped citizens were rescued.
There was also massive arrest of bandits’ collaborators by troops of Operation Hadarin Daji in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna States.
Similarly, there have been several air bombardments by the air component of Operation Whirl Punch on many identified terrorists hideouts in Kaduna state with scores of terrorists including their top leaders neutralised.
As the intensity of military operations increased, the Defence Headquarters in November declared 19 terrorists wanted and placed N5 million bounty on each of them.
The wanted persons are notorious bandits and terrorists that have been terrorising Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
Subsequent operational activities through land and air interdictions revealed that some of the wanted bandit kingpins were killed in Katsina and Zamfara.
In the North Central, troops of Operation Safe Haven also recorded a lot of successes in both kinetic and non-kinetic operations in Plateau and part of Kaduna states.
One of the high moment was on Oct. 29, when troops repelled an attack by Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists on Wawa Military Cantonment in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger.
A coordinated land and air operations led to the killing of six of the terrorists and capture of 18 others while their equipment were captured and destroyed.
Also in 2022, troops of the Guards Brigade successfully apprehended about 60 hoodlums planning to cause security breach in the nation’s capital on the eve on the Independence Day celebration.
However, there were some unfortunate ambushes in the FCT in which the lives of two officers and four soldiers were lost in July, just after the attack on Kuje Custodial Centre, which created panic in the territory.
The military and other security agencies were able to quickly bring the tensed situation under control and effectively countered the fake terror alerts issued by the United States and United Kingdom embassies in Nigeria.
To underscore the seriousness with which Nigeria views the security challenges, the National Security Council met three times in July to appraise the security situation and set target for the military and other security agencies. It’s the first time in the history of the country that the council met three times in a month.
The effects have been monumental in terms of degrading insurgents, bandits and terrorists across the country.
In the Niger Delta region, the military joint task force, code-named Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), has during the year, destroyed 37 militant camps and over 1,883 illegal oil refining sites in the region.
According to the Commander, OPDS, Rear Adm. Aminu Hassan, 699 suspects were arrested in the effort to secure the operations of oil and gas companies in the Niger Delta as well as safeguard the people of the area.
The operations helped to save over N53 billion worth of crude oil, diesel, kerosene and petrol; destroyed not less than 37 militants and sea robbers camps and recovered 90 assorted illegal weapons and large caliber ammunition.
In the South East, the military has continued to confront the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra and its militant wing, the Eastern Security Network, with remarkable successes.
On the whole, the armed forces of Nigeria has largely gained the upper hand against enemies of the state across the country in 2022.
It is instructive to note that attacks on troops’ locations and ambush on their convoys have also reduced drastically in the course of the year.
These successes were propelled by enhanced joint operational planning and execution of the plans by all the three services, as well as improved synergy with other security agencies in the country.
There was also enhanced intelligence gathering and sharing as acknowledged by the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo recently.
He said the agency has continued to carry out its mandates conscientiously with positive outcomes, adding that it prioritised technical and communication aspects of intelligence in support of armed forces operations and activities within and outside the country.
Adebayo said the DIA had also successfully dominated the threat environment with a combination of special intelligence operations and non-kinetic activities which had recorded degrees of successes and continued to deny the enemies of state, the cohesion and capabilities to operate.
“As we continue to review our activities, in 2023 the Agency intends to refocus its tactical and technical intelligence drive on all frontiers to sustain the gains.
“So far, the result across all theatres has been significantly rewarding,” the defence intelligence chief said.
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