Posted by News Express | 6 May 2020 | 1,418 times
The onslaught of Covid-19 is driving virtually every other headlines into the shadows. It makes no difference whether in the local or international media, except, of course, in the social media where the credulous and incredulous equally compete for space.
Covid-19 has taken over the agenda setting role of the mass media and it seems nothing else is important. It is against such a background that many serious issues no longer (at least for now) command the traditional news values they would otherwise have. The vacuum is then taken over by social media half truths, distortions and outright falsehoods.
The purported Chadian military campaign against Boko Haram went without serious mainstream media scrutiny. But it became topical on the fake news chronicle and was hugely sensationalised by social media insurgents with articles, pictures and videos equating Chadian troops with Roman conquistadors.
The Republic of Chad is Nigeria’s north-eastern neighbour and a member of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram and ISIS in West Africa. The Chad Basin islands have been a haven for different armed groups even prior to Boko Haram.
No gainsay that for 10 years, the four countries of the Lake Chad Basin have failed to subdue a common enemy terrorising, decimating and displacing their populations and undermining their political economy and social stability.
Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroun despite the multinational military task force, have not brought an end to the festering sore that is Boko Haram. This seems to be largely due to a lack of cooperation among these countries as represented in the reported (purported) exploits of the Chadian Army against Boko Haram and ISWAP.
President Idriss Derby Itno of Chad, who ousted his former protege, Hissen Habre in December 1990, has been eulogised for getting in the trenches and leading a formidable military operation against Boko Haram and ISWAP. Most likely reliving his days as a Libyan-trained commando and guerilla who led the rebellion that supplanted the government of his country, Derby who has since transmuted into a civilian president, was videoed doning military fatigue in the front line.
The Chadian authorities want the world to believe that the operation, code named “Boma Wrath” was a retaliatory offensive against Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters hiding and operating within the Lac Province of Chad and who were suspected to have carried out the attack on Chadian forces, killing 98 officers and men and leaving 47 soldiers with life threatening injuries. In an online video address after the eight-day exercise, Colonel Azem Bermendoa Agouna of the Chadian Army stated:
“This is a statement from the Chief of Army Staff. “Operation Boma Wrath” launched on the 31st of March 2020 under the supervision of the Commander in Chief (President Idris Derby) of the armed forces has come to an end. The security and defence forces with bravery and determination have chased Boko Haram terrorists from the Lake Chad Islands. Boko Haram terrorists have been chased away from all the Lake Chad islands. This is the summary of the eight (8) days battle. On the side of our friendly forces, we counted 52 martyrs and 196 wounded. On the enemy’s side, 1,000 Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised (killed). Destroyed (jihadist) materials: 50 water canoes destroyed. Materials recovered (from the jihadist): Many collective and individual small arms were recovered. The security and defence forces are deeply stationed in the Islands of Niger and Nigeria while waiting to hand over to the respective army of these friendly nations.”
Viewed from a political point, Derby’s conduct was a morale booster for Chadian forces as the commander-in-chief. But this is as far as it goes. The operation was in reality, a silhouette to mask the fact that Derby’s estate is under threat of a rebellion and as a former rebel, he knows what awaits him should his enemies get within firing range of the presidential office.
Viewed from a strategic point, however, it was a military stunt by the Chadian leader that has elaborately deceived many.
As stated earlier, Chad and its neighbours have failed to use the opportunity of the MNJTF to launch a coordinated attack that could have severely dented or possibly finished off Boko Haram terrorists hibernating and operating from the Lake Chad islands.
Chad has a history of having pulled out of the MNJTF at critical points and unilaterally too. This presents a picture of sabotage and nonchalance, allowing Boko Haram to hold free territory from which they launch attacks on neighbouring countries and to which they retreat.
It is believed that the inability to resolve the Chibok and Dapchi abductions; the inability to track down Abubakar Shekau; the longevity of Boko Haram and many other puzzles can be attributed to some Chadian conspiracy.
The fact that Idriss Derby is up against an internal rebellion that seeks to topple and end his 30-year grip on power is not known to his social media fans in Nigeria. Thus the Chadian stunt was more of a mission led by Derby for self preservation. If Derby had led military expeditions against Boko Haram since it escalated from a Nigerian nightmare to a regional one with the same commitment of the Camerounian gendarmes and the Nigerian Army, the terrorists would since have been eliminated.
Suffice it to say, whether it is a coincidence or was the stimulus, Nigeria’s army chief has for the second time, relocated to the frontier of the insurgency. It won’t be unlikely if General Buratai repeats the exploits of General Muhammadu Buhari who in 1982, led the Nigerian Army in a cross border incursion against Chadian bandits who were unsettling the region.
It is high time the Boko Haram nonsense was stopped by necessary action rather than due process. It may be time to breach protocol. America never waited for protocol to take out Bin Laden, al Baghdadi and others. They just did what they had to do.
•Ogar is an Abuja-based journalist and PR practitioner; 08080128030 (SMS only)
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