By: Israel Umoh
A yeoman’s job can be taxing. It can be good, hard and selfless. It is so because the yeoman is fighting a patriotic cause. The battle could cost his life. It could consume money even the peace and joy of the person. To succeed, the yeoman has to embrace teamwork spirit to achieve his definite goal.
Olusegun Adeniyi enlisted into the Nigerian Army years ago least expected to do a yeoman’s job of fighting terrorism in his fatherland. Along the way, Boko Haram insurgency foisted on him, the opportunity to showcase his military prowess of attacking internal insurrectionists and defending his country’s territorial integrity.
Adeniyi, a Major-General, led a large troop of soldiers on a special operation when they came under heavy attacks by Boko Haram. Mr. Adeniyi, the immediate past theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, loved using video clips to express his feelings to avoid falling into the temptation of being put in the guardroom.
He had used four video clips giving a recorded situation report to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general.
In the video, the theatre commander could be seen amongst a battery of barely organised troops lamenting that they suffered a massive loss of men and equipment because they were outgunned by Boko Haram.
“Since yesterday we have been met with very strong resistance – from more than pockets of Boko Haram. This morning, from every flank not least than 15 gun trucks were facing us.”
In the video shot and released after last week’s attack at Gorji, a village in Yobe State by the Boko Haram attack, 47 soldiers, according to military command, were killed.
The commander’s shocking revelation that the troops in the field are not adequately equipped and armed to fight, came amidst claims by the military authority that Boko Haram has been defeated.
Mr. Adeniyi in the video revealed how he lost several types of equipment and was almost rendered immobile due to a massive attack on troops’ vehicles.
Facing the camera and addressing the Chief of Army staff, the Theater commander said, “Good morning sir, I’m standing here with Sector 2 Commander; the armed helicopter has just come to hover our air, the instruction I gave them was that anything they see moving they should engage because most of my gun trucks are not moving. Like I said earlier, the three battalions are fighting as deployed — nobody is running.
“But what we have here, I will give you some estimates, sir. Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mortar bombs at us; they have fired 80 to a hundred RPGs at us; in addition to eight to 10 gun trucks firing at us from all sides. We have not run, and the soldiers are not misbehaving or disobeying orders.
“We have casualties. I will come and see you in person on what we need to do. But we are not running.”
Mr. Adeniyi later pointed in the video at some of the MRAP trucks that have been demobilised after Boko Haram gunmen had shot its tires.
“As you can see over that’s one of ours that bullets tore, we lost about 20 MRAP tires here. We have changed close to 250 Hilux tires due to the terrain.
“This is what we are facing in the Timbuktu triangle, sir. We are not running, we are fighting as a system to curtail the situation and achieve your mission, sir.”
It appears the fourth video clip clandestinely leaked to the mass media by a bad egg in the army might have earned him re-deployment.
But then, Adeniyi deserves the accolade, not denigration from the Nigerian Army for exhibiting exemplary conduct and unparalleled performance in the anti-terror war against Boko Haram. For the army to have redeployed him after the last video was secretly leaked by a fifth columnist was a suspect, showing that he might have broken one of the rules of engagement which, in seriousness, he was not complicit. Rarely do army generals go to the war front, but he was never deterred by the casualties. He went and fought in the war theatre to liberate the people held captive by the insurgents.
A gallant and brave soldier, he has every cause to thank God for sparing his life. In January 2020, he narrowly escaped death in the hands of Boko Haram with a host of other soldiers. Unfortunately, his driver was mowed down by the super fireworks of the insurgents.
As a confirmation, Nigerian Army in a statement by signed by Col. Aminu Iliyasu, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, on January 6, 2020, said Major-General Adeniyi personally led gallant troops of the Nigerian Army in the fightback and neutralization of the terrorists.
“The Theatre Commander’s convoy came under the criminals ineffective and uncoordinated fire from Anti-Aircraft Guns, Machines Guns, Rocket Propelled Grenades and some of their foot soldiers about 2 Kilometers to Auno in Kaga LGA of Borno State while returning from Jakana where he visited troops’ location following his earlier meeting with the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum at Auno.
“In a commendable demonstration of bold action in battle, the Theatre Commander led the gallant troops of his convoy to engage the criminal Boko Haram insurgents with superior firepower, subduing them and thereafter assaulting the ambush site with his men thereby causing the criminal insurgents to flee the location in disarray.”
Moreover, Adeniyi is a courageous and compassionate soldier. Appearing in full combat kit, he was seen in one of the videos tapping a trooper who was weeping, telling him it was not soldierlike for him to cry because his colleagues were killed.
“I know you were crying because they kill your regular…look at me, that is not the time to cry,” he said, as he kept jerking the shirt of the trooper who was apparently weeping.
In another video, the theater commander was seen and heard telling the soldiers that “it appears the people we are fighting have more firepower than us…”
He later directed the troops to gather all the bodies of the soldiers that paid the supreme price into available vehicles in order to quickly move them out of the danger zone.
So, the sudden redeployment of Adeniyi may appear as a punitive measure for his purported exposure of Nigeria’s military inability to rout the enemies that have caused sleepless nights to the Federal and state governments and to many residents. But such may be counter-productive if his successor is unpatriotic to devise workable ways to fully dislodge the insurgents.
The examples of Major-General Rogers Nicholas, the then theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, are needed in the onslaught. He fought the insurgents to a standstill, causing hundreds in Borno State to have surrendered and several others fled their enclave, while over 100 civilians were rescued in an operation. Even the then Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, acknowledged that peace and order had been restored in the state by the Nigerian Army.
Unfortunately, Boko Haram is an enterprise and big business encouraged by a few. Lies and untruths and false propaganda thrive to keep the profiteers and racketeers going. Unless the wedge on the path of truth is removed, the enterprise will continue to flourish. And more human blood and sweat would flow. In the end, the profiteers must pay an eternal debt to settle with their creator.
Despite their military might, 92 Chadians soldiers were ambushed and slaughtered by the insurgents. In revenge, the Chadian soldiers have started to crush the terrorists near Lake Chad. So, the Nigerian Army must be relentless in flushing them now. Division and distrust among soldiers and their commander must be removed in an effort to defeat the common enemies. The military must be well-equipped and the soldiers well-motivated to fight as one.
To totally crush the terrorists, the Nigerian Army has to re-strategise against Boko Haram and ISWAP using conventional and unconventional tactics. The insurgents have grown in military strategies and tactics to the extent of attacking military formations, killing soldiers, carting away some military hardware even claiming some Nigerian territories. They know how to defy conventional and modern warfare in attacking the Chadian and Nigerian soldiers. The terrorists know how to employ surprise elements to weaken and outsmart their enemies. The soldiers must, therefore, change their strategies and ruthlessly deal with bad eggs who supply them intelligence. But the Adeniyis are the ones who can do the yeoman’s job in fighting and exterminating the insurgency technically and physically.