*His redeployment from Op Lafiya Dole was call to higher responsibility
By Chidi Omeje
Indications have emerged that contrary to insinuations making round in a section of the media, the 2017 redeployment to the Army Headquarters of the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, from his then command at Operation Lafiya Dole, was premised on needs assessment and a call to higher responsibility.
Attahiru, with Army Number 8406, was born on August 10, 1966. He is from Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State and a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy. He was a former General Officer Commanding of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu. He was also a former Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole. He took over from Major General Leo Irabor.
According to a source conversant with the military, redeployments are normal exercise in the military and do not necessarily mean vote of ‘no confidence’ in the affected officers.
This is coming against the backdrop of some headlines that appeared in a section of the media immediately the General was appointed on Tuesday to replace Gen Buratai as the Chief of Army Staff by the President Buhari. The media reports tended to deride the new Chief over his tenure as Theatre Commander, Op Lafiya Dole.
“Gen Attahiru is a fine officer. He had distinguished himself in every position or ranks he found himself in the Army. He has served in various capacities and in various commands, including as the Director of Army Public Relations, GOC 82 Div and Theatre Commander, Op Lafiya Dole, among other staff positions in the army. Any where he served, he always left his mark as a courageous, innovative and patriotic officer who was determined to leave the place better than he met it”, says the source.
Another source revealed that on assumption of duty as Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE on 30 May 2017, Gen Attahiru quickly carried out evaluation of the operational situation of the thearter. The evaluation led to the crucial decision to swiftly establish Fire Support Coordination Cell (FSCC) which was employed continuously to degrade the BHT in their enclaves and staging areas.
According to the source, those FSCC carried out artillery and aerial bombardments in conjunction with the Air Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE on isolated BHT enclaves killing several BHT and destroying their logistic base.
Another upshot of the evaluation is the creation of dugouts along BHT crossing points to deny the group freedom of action and stem the conduct of their nefarious activities.
It was also under his short reign that the theatre was rejigged with the inauguration of Mobile Strike Teams (MSTs) in August 2017 to reinforce the Mobile Brigade Concept (MBC) adopted in the Theatre to facilitate the quick defeat of the BHT. To improve general operational vibrancy and troops’ responsiveness, he set up a Special Forces In-theatre Training Team in August 2017.
The team was saddled with responsibility of retraining and refreshing troops on the fundamental concepts and skills of marksmanship, convoy and anti-ambush drills among others.
The period also witnessed the Operation DEEP PUNCH 2 which orchestrated series of precursor operations, including clearance operations, long range fighting patrols, ambushes, blocking operations as well as cordon and search operations.
As a matter of fact, during that short period, 5 high profile BHT commanders and many foot soldiers were killed, while many other members of the group surrendered owing to the effectiveness of the operations. “Gen Attahiru also ensured that Non-kinetic operations were also conducted through coordinated media and information operations that led to the surrender of 72 BHT, who were immediately inducted into Operation SAFE CORRIDOR.
“It was also during his time that the Theatre Command equally facilitated enhanced security on the Lake Chad through continuous clearance of water weeds and patrol of the waterways resulting in lifting of ban on fishing activities in the Lake and the gradual restoration of economic activities thereby providing a lifeline and bringing succor to the indigenes”.
“It is very obvious that most of the media report about him today were sponsored by those who lost out in the battle of wits that climaxed with his eventual appointment as the new Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army”, our source concluded.