Boko Haram: Nigeria suffers setback as Chad withdraws troops
The government of Republic of Chad has ended its mission to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria, and has also withdrawn its troops from the country. The troops are part of the Multi-National Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, deployed to fight Boko Haram terrorists. The task force has troops from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger.
Chadian Army’s spokesman also confirmed, yesterday, that none of their personnel remain in Nigeria. “It’s our troops that went to aid Nigerian soldiers months ago that are returning home. They have finished their mission,” spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa said. “None of our soldiers remains in Nigeria,” he added, without specifying whether they might be replaced following Friday’s pullout. “Those who have come back will return to their sector at Lake Chad.”
Chadian troops are believed to be the most effective military in the Sahel. They played a significant role in the rollback of Boko haram in northeastern Nigeria in 2015. While there are complaints, likely valid, about their human rights violations, that is also true of other African militaries operating in the Sahel.
Several attempts to get a confirmation about the withdrawal of the Chadian troops from the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, was abortive, as he refused to pick his calls or respond to a message by our reporter. It is suggestive that the departure came 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari said withdrawal of military from troubled areas would not be rushed.
The President reassured Nigerians on January 3, 2020, that withdrawal of the military from areas where peace had been restored will not be done in a manner that will expose communities to more risks of attacks. He said the withdrawals would be gradual and carefully planned, not abrupt or arbitrary to jeopardise the success already recorded by the military.
Recall that barely a week ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria had announced that it would gradually withdraw military operations in some volatile spots in the country, beginning from the first quarter of 2020. The withdrawal of troops will be done after an “assessment” to determine areas, where peace has returned to enable civil authorities assume full control of security.
The decision was reached during a Security Council meeting, which ended at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The Council decided that in place of the military, the Nigeria Police Force, which has the primary responsibility of providing internal security, should fully assume its duties in such areas. The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, who spoke with State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, explained that the withdrawal was to allow the military focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression.