The Nigeria Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has Saturday showed leadership by example when he supervised the arrest of four Boko Haram terrorists planning to ambush his convoy as he visits troops at the battle ground in northeast border areas of Borno state.
This was shortly after the Boko Haram terrorists had ambushed an advance team of soldiers moving ahead of the COAS’ convoy.
A soldier died and two others got injured even as the advance team led by an army General were able to gun down five of the terrorists and arrested five others.
The top soldiers arrived Maiduguri on Friday alongside other top officers of the Nigeria Army as well as the Chief of Defence Staff. He set out for what could be described as the most petrifying trip towards Nigeria’s major international border in the north-east, where soldiers are busy making gains in defeating the terrorists and reclaiming captured territories.
The COAS whose presence apparently encouraged the soldiers to move on, had immediately urged officers to rush the injured soldiers to the hospital for treatment, had also ensured that those arrested alongside the Boko Haram suspects were taken to the barracks for proper investigation.
A news reporter, who was part of the trip through the dangerous Maiduguri- Gamboru-Ngala highway that until recently has been under the control of the Boko Haram insurgent, saw desolated communities being outgrown by shrubs and grasses.
Fresh tales of distraction of vehicles and motorcycles said to belong to the Boko Haram terrorists were seen littering the quiet road.
Most communities were deserted. Only soldiers on guard were seen everywhere.
Soldiers moving in a convoy of about 20 vehicles had to stop from time to town to sniff for possible land mines on bridges and areas that are questionable.
At Mafa, a local government headquarters sharing the same name, Lieutenant General Buratai made a brief stop to address the troops of the 112 battalion.
The Army chief commended the soldiers and urged them to “keep on with the good job” they have been doing even as he said “there is more work to be done”.
Buratai assured the soldiers of improved welfare even as he relayed the greetings of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the commander in chief. According to him “We all know we have a task to clear this general area of these criminal elements once and for all so that we all can go back to our normal soldiering business”.
The convoy of the Army Chief had to slow down when radio messages blared in that an advance team moving ahead of his had ran into an ambush. Minutes after the soldiers had radioed back that the situation has been contained, the convoy now moving at a careful but tactical speed drove through part of the route that was said to be the most dangerous.
It could be recalled that even the General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Nigeria Army Major General Lamidi Adeosun was ambushed by the same terrorists before soliders moved in last week to clear the area.
Few kilometres after leaving Mafa, some eagle-eyed soldiers using binoculars were able to pick some Boko Haram terrorists moving in the bush together with some herdsmen. The COAS urged the convoy to halt and ordered soldiers to round up the suspects who were arrested. A brief investigation revealed that four of them were actually Boko Haram terrorists who took part in the ambush the advance team suffered.
The soldiers freed the herdsmen who narrated that they were being forced to move with their cattle to give some kind of disguise for the fleeing Boko Haram terrorists. The four suspects were immediately handcuffed and taken back to Maiduguri the state capital.
Also, a family of four with a sick mother riding on a donkey were also investigated by soldiers. The head of the family explained his wife had been shot by Boko Haram terrorists the previous days and he needed to take her and his sick child to the hospital. Lieutenant General Buratai ordered that the family should be conveyed in one of the vehicles to the hospital for proper medical attention.
The convoy moved on to Dikwa, 85km away from Maiduguri where over 4000 IDP were being protected by NIgerian soldiers in the deserted town.
The COAS was welcomed by a cheering IDPs who were thanking him for bringing in the soldiers to save them.
Lieutenant General addressed the IDPs in the local Kanuri language and assured them that their plights would soon come to an end, as soldiers are working tirelessly to reclaim territories so that the federal government can organise their return back.
Some of the villagers who spoke with the Army Chief said more than five of their
The journey which lasted about three hours ended at Ngala, a border town where spiritied solders sand the praise of the chief of army staff for personally visiting them on the front line.
The army chief addressed the troops alongside the GOC 7 Division.
A group photograph was taken with the exited troops who would be invading Gambouru, the next town under the control of Boko Haram on Sunday.
The chief of army staff and his team returned back to Maiduguri at about 4pm and departed the troubled city for Abuja.