NORTHERN NIGERIA INTERNAL SECURITY SITREP- Week Ending 20 September 2014

Situation Friendly Forces

15 September

President Goodluck JONATHAN ordered the release of relief materials valued at N1.5bn to IDPS in BORNO, ADAMAWA and YOBE States

16 September

A courts Martial presided over by Brigadier General Chukwuemeka OKONKWO sentenced 12 soldiers to death by firing squad, 1 soldier to 28 days imprisonment with Hard Labour and set free 5 others over the mutiny of 14 May during which they opened fire on the then GOC 7 Div Maj Gen Ahmadu MOHAMMED in MAIDUGURI over casualties caused in an ambush they believed was preventable. The sentences are still subject to confirmation.

The Comptroller of the KANO/ JIGAWA State Command of the NIGERIA Customs Service stated a consignment of military gear such as uniforms and boots had been confiscated as it was being smuggled through AMINU KANO Airport, KANO.

Nigerian forces attacked BAZZA, ADAMAWA State reportedly killing 17 gunmen including 2 commanders

17 September

The NIGERIA Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have requested the President show clemency to the 12 soldiers sentenced to death for mutiny.

7 alleged members of Boko Haram were arrested in SHAFFA Town, HAWULI LGA, BORNO State

19 September

Media reports indicate that negotiations brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are underway to swap the GGSS CHIBOK abductees for 30 Boko Haram commanders. Negotiations apparently started with a senior commander in KUJE Prison, FCT.

20 September

5 gunmen surrendered with their weapons to Nigerian forces at KONDUGA

Situation Enemy Forces

13 September

Gunmen have abducted at least 50 women and children from HUSRA Village, MICHIKA LGA, ADAMAWA Village, locals also state that a number of young men were forcibly conscripted

14 September

Nomadic herdsmen attacked MBAR Village, BOKKOS LGA, PLATEAU State around 11.30pm with machetes and small arms killing 5 people, wounding several others and burning over 20 properties.

A convoy of 7 buses carrying troops from 322 Artillery Regt and 4 Brigade Garrison to KONTAGORA was ambushed between OKENE and LOKOJA in KOGI State along the OKENE- KABBA Road, injuring 3 soldiers

16 September

Gunmen mounted in pick up trucks, an APC and motorcycles attacked KONDUGA. Elements of 7 Div defeated the attack in a 12 hour contact capturing 1 x APC, 3 x Hilux pickups, rifles, machine guns, RPGs and ammunition. Enemy forces reportedly withdrew using bush paths to MAFA LGA

Nomadic herdsmen ambushed a military patrol vehicle as it move between FADAN KARSHI and KARSHI DAJI, SANGA LGA, KADUNA State, killing 1 soldier and wounding 4 other soldiers. The marauders moved on FADAN KARSHI, killing 12 people and burning 20 houses, they then went to KARSHI DAJI killing 20 people and burning several houses and then UNGUWAN GANYE.

Gunmen attacked AJIRI, BORNO State mounted in trucks, they were defeated by security forces.

17 September

Gunmen attacked NGAMDU, BORNO State with small arms, the attackers looted a vehicle carrying food and set it on ffire. They were defeated by elements of 7 Div garrisoned there.

Gunmen have been forcibly conscripting young men and murdered a 70 year old man in MADAGALI, BORNO State,

Gunmen attacked KANO Federal College of Education, KOFAR KABUGA, KANO, KANO State around 2.00pm with small arms and IEDs. Killing the security guard at the gate the attackers gained entrance upon which time two 2 IEDs were suicide detonated in a lecture hall in the Arts and Social Sciences Building. 20 people were reported killed and 40 wounded. Police recovered explosives and 2 x AK 47 rifles

Gunmen attempting to ambush travellers along the MAIDUGURI-POTISKUM Road, were engaged by Nigerian forces with reportedly heavy casualties.

Media reports state that insurgents have installed a Boko Haram commander Muhammad DANJUMA as ‘Emir’ of BAMA, the individual was reportedly the former District head of NGUROSOYE Town.

Media reports indicate enemy forces have been seen concentrating at GAJIGANA and in the vicinity of MAFA, BORNO State

Gunmen attacked KONDUGA, BORNO State around 4.00pm, the attack was repelled after 4 hours with the enemy reportedly losing 60 men and several including a senior commander captured. Friendly force captured 24 x rifles, 5 x RPGs, 2 x Machine gun and 1 x Ford Ranger.

Gunmen ambushed Nigerian troops in the vicinity of BENISHEIK, BORNO State killing 1 soldier and wounding 4 others. 4 motorcycles were captured.

19 September

Gunmen attacked the main market in MAINOK, KAGA LGA, BORNO State with small arms and RPGs around 1.30pm killing 23 civilians. 13 attackers were also killed. Troops were eventually alerted and intercepted the attackers as they withdrew towards DAMBOA killing 48 and capturing an unspecified number and type of vehicles and weapons

Fulani speaking gunmen dressed in military and police type uniforms attacked TADABALE Village, ISA LGA, SOKOTO State killing 2 people and stealing 5,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep.

Situation External Forces

16 September

UNHCR states it needs $34m to assist people fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency in NIGERIA. The agency states that 75,000 have fled to CHAD, CAMEROUN and NIGER thus far but they estimate it will increase to 95,000 by the end of the year. They have also asked for $5.5m for a protection monitoring system.

18 September

Gunmen attacked ASSIGHASSIA Village, EXTREME NORD Region around 7.00pm, two fighters were reportedly killed and one Camerounian soldier wounded, gunmen then reportedly attacked GANSE Village two hours later reportedly shooting 3 civilians and slitting the throat of another.

20 September

CAMEROUN has deported 85 Nigerian refugees (13 men, 32 women and 40 children) from MAYO TSANAGA District, EXTREME NORD Region.

Insurgent Incidents  IED Vehicle IED Suicide IED Small Arms Small arms+IED Other wpns Theft Kidnapping Foreign attacks
0 0 0 11 1 0 0 1       1

Analysis

Decision points

Images from the battles in Konduga appear to show an individual who bears a strong semblance to one of the ‘Shekaus’.

Is this ‘Shekau’ or is it not? Is he dead or alive and what does either mean for the conflict?

Before we can look at the campaign in general we must look at two battles in particular namely those at Konduga and Fotokol.

Both these battles have seen the enemy throw themselves at Nigerian and Camerounian forces and repeatedly experience defeat breaking their current run of form.

The enemy has suffered significant casualties and discipline has broken down to the point that weapons and bodies have been abandoned by the enemy and they have begun to surrender in reasonable numbers to both the Nigerian and Camrounian armies, which are good indicators of a breakdown in command, fear and discipline on the enemies part.

However the enemy is not homogenous, there are numerous factions and it is this diversity that makes the fate of ‘Shekau’ and the battles at Konduga and Fotokol interesting.

Reports indicate that several insurgent factions have joined forces for this offensive on Maiduguri. It is no secret that these are marriages of convenience particularly for Ansaru which was decimated several years ago after ‘Shekau’ attacked and then betrayed them to the security forces causing the surviving leadership to flee. A rapprochement was reportedly brokered by MUJAO/ AQIM, however it is unlikely that this betrayal has been forgiven.

This marriage of convenience has resulted in several successful kidnappings and ransom payments in Cameroun (which like Kano is Ansarus area) allowing the various factions to rearm and reequip for this offensive.

In Konduga the enemy attacked several times over 3-4 days each time being repulsed with heavy casualties. Each time friendly forces knew when and where Boko Haram would attack. They were able to lay ambushes with such precision and with such well defined killing zones that the enemy not only suffered significant casualties but abandoned their dead and lost several prestige weapons including the armoured vehicle that ‘Shekau’ used in several of his propaganda videos.

The presence of this vehicle suggests that the faction assaulting Konduga is ‘Shekaus’, its loss is also indicative of the heavy defeat suffered by the attackers.

These defeats could simply be good tactics, use of ground and intelligence by friendly forces

Or else it is entirely conceivable that Ansaru has got their revenge on ‘Shekau’, by paying him back in his own coin and betraying him to the security forces and ensuring that they are the dominant group on both sides of the border.

However conversely at Fotokol at the other end of the Area of Operations, Ansaru/ Boko Haram have been repeatedly defeated by Camerounian forces in their attempts to try and capture the El Beid Bridge and control the last motorable crossing in the area between Nigeria and Cameroun.

The reason this is the last bridge is because the enemy destroyed all the others in order to fix Nigerian forces and channel them into killing areas in the event of a counter attack, unfortunately for them they have become victims of their own success.

The reason this is important to them is that Boko Harams key strength has been their mobility, which has given them the ability to rapidly move and concentrate forces against targets, disperse them preventing entrapment and move rapidly through and around friendly forces and maintain the initiative

This mobility has been maintained through the use of motorcycles and all terrain vehicles, however their inventory now includes heavier armoured vehicles and the scale of their operations means supplies, weapons and reinforcements can no longer be moved piecemeal.

Thus like most conventional forces they need motorable, all weather roads and bridges to sustain their operations particularly in the rainy season. To defend the territory they now hold they need to place their forces in and around these towns and villages thus their forces are in essence fixed, in exactly the same way friendly forces were and their movements are now as predictable as friendly forces.

This loss of mobility, repeated defeats, loss of senior commanders and prestige weapons and the surrender of foot soldiers are bad but more importantly this has profound psychological effect on enemy and friendly forces alike.

If Shekau is dead it means his faction of Boko Haram is leaderless, they will need to get another one quickly or be absorbed by another faction. If they were betrayed they may try and take revenge or flee or surrender.

If Ansaru cannot take the El Beid Bridge or Fotokol, they still have the hostages seized from Kolofata as a bargaining chip but rather than negotiating from a position of strength they are doing so from a position of weakness.

If Boko Haram rather than investing Maiduguri and controlling territory from Kolofata to Maiduguri as planned, are licking their wounds around Konduga and Fotokol then it would appear they have reached the high watermark of their offensive. The IED and small arms attack in Kano and other attacks outside the Area of Operations, that seek to distract the security forces and disperse their strength, somewhat reinforce this viewpoint.

The enemy retains a huge swath of territory across North Eastern Nigeria and Northern Cameroun a lot of men and weapons. They are not defeated, they are far from defeated but they are subject to certain factors.

The loss of ‘Shekau’ creates an opportunity for negotiations to begin. The grounds or basis for this negotiation are unclear but ‘Shekau’ has always cheerfully portrayed himself as a bloodthirsty fanatic whilst Ansaru has portrayed themselves as the more reasonable alternative. In reality these differences generally cosmetic as Ansaru is as brutal and ruthless as the ‘Shekau’ faction however they understand the value of buying civilian consent, are more business minded and maintain strong and consistent links with Camerounian government officials, Nigerian politicians, journalists and activists.

The loss of so many commanders means there are vacancies which several other commanders will be jockeying to fill, these are unlikely to be amicable negotiations over tea and biscuits.

The defeats at Fotokol and Konduga have demonstrated to commanders and foot soldiers alike that victory, (whatever that was conceived to be) is unlikely and they now have a long hard fight with no tangible reward.

Boko Harams best chances of survival lie in maintaining a certain level of control of the captured areas and their key terrain until the dry season, where upon the Sambisa Forest and other areas becomes motorable again opening up more crossings into Cameroun, Chad and Niger, so if the objective is to destroy the different Boko Haram factions as a unified fighting force then this period of enemy flux, confusion and strategic uncertainty is ideal for a counter strike.

Thus it can be considered that the crisis of the campaign has been reached and friendly forces are able to safely go over to the offensive.

To destroy Boko Haram as a coherent fighting force it is necessary to exploit their weaknesses, such as loss of commanders, restricted mobility, widely dispersed forces, leadership differences, damaged morale, lack of food and popular support and attack their strengths, which is their mobility and ability to move across through inhospitable terrain. In the opinion of this reviewer this is best represented by clearing and holding the Mandara Mountains and the towns that act as gateways to it such as Michika, Madagali, Mubi, Fotokol, Ashigashiya, Ziguague and most importantly Gwoza and Gamboru Ngala.

The enemy presence in Bama or Buni Yadi might threaten Maiduguri but they do not have the strength to push beyond there, those in Bazza, Vimtrim might be irritants but cut off from the Mandaras they are vulnerable to being destroyed piecemeal.

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About peccavi

A Nigerian with interests in defence, security, geopolitics, the military particularly small unit tactics, COIN, stabilisation and asymmetric warfare
This entry was posted in Counter insurgency, Defence, Nigeria Defence, Nigeria Strategy, Stabilisation, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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