The Nigerian Army (NA) is losing many of its officers and men to ambushes by terrorists across theatres of operations in Northern Nigeria at an alarming rate. Just this morning, media reports again indicate that heavily armed bandits ambushed troops of the Special Army Super Camp (SASC) 4 of the Nigeria Army in Jabia Local Government Area of Katsina State while advancing to a notorious bandit leader’s camp, ‘Dangote’ at Shimfida. This year alone, from March to date, the media has reported not less than four major cases of ambushes of Nigerian troops operating in northeast Nigeria. The combined casualty figures from these four ambushes are over 100 soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
This ugly situation calls for a thorough inquest to unravel the mystery behind these frequent ambushes in order to end to them. Although in a war, there will always be casualties on both sides, the frequency at which terrorists ambush Nigerian Army troops is unusually high and unacceptable.
The security of Nigerians in the northeast of the country depends on the effective operation of the Nigerian Army.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai
One of the factors that hampers any army’s effective operation is the loss of morale in the fighting troops. One reason for such morale loss is frequent deaths of troops at the battle fronts. Frequent occurrences of ambushes batter the morale of the troops.
This piece takes a look at the possible factors that are responsible for the frequent ambushes of Nigerian troops in the operations in Northern Nigeria?
For a successful ambush to happen, the enemy must have received information on the planned operation and movements of troops well in advance.
One cannot rule out sabotage in the cases of ambushes involving Nigerian troops in the North. The fact that there are moles within the rank and file of the Nigerian Army who are sympathetic to the terrorist’s cause have come to the fore on several occasions.
In a widely publicized incident in May 2014, some soldiers of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, Borno State, opened fire on a vehicle conveying the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Division, Maj. Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed, in a mutinous attack. The soldiers had just survived an ambush in which many of their colleagues died.
They blamed their commander for their colleagues’ death because he had insisted on their return to Maiduguri the same night after a successful operation despite their plea to undertake the journey the following morning. The ambush occurred midway into that journey. The troops suspected that someone betrayed them to the enemy. A military court-martial that the Nigerian Army constituted to try the soldiers found 12 of them guilty of the mutiny and sentenced them to death. Soldiers at a court-martial
Many more mutinies in circumstances similar to the one in the aforementioned incident have since followed. These have resulted in many court-martials.
Another factor which enable an ambush to succeed is the military authorities’ ineffective intelligence-gathering techniques and procedures before the launch of an operation. The frequency of successful ambushes on troops of the Nigerian Army in the northeast, tempts one to fault the intelligence gathering techniques of the Nigerian Army authorities.
Finally, to truly unravel the mystery behind the unusual frequency and success rate of the ambushes on troops that we are witnessing in the theatres of military operations in northern Nigeria, we cannot rule out the involvement of local collaborators in the communities. There is a strong possibility that some unscrupulous locals in these communities could be collaborating with terrorists to sabotage and frustrate the efforts of the troops for reasons best known to them.
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