President Muhammadu Buhari’s new chief of army staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru was once removed from his position as the theatre commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole in 2017, for inefficiency.
According to reports at the time, under his command, Boko Haram terrorists carried out daring operations with impunity.
There were suicide bombings across the three states in the North east..
Maiduguri, the most garrisoned city was also attacked by suicide bombers.
The former chief of army staff, who appointed Attahiru in May 2017 to the command had given him a 40-day ultimatum in August to capture Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram sect.
But he failed to do so.
Instead, a group of geologists and technologists from the University of Maiduguri and the NNPC were ambushed by Boko Haram insurgents at Magumeri area of Borno state.
About 12 soldiers who escorted the academics were killed.
Under Attahiru’s command, series of attacks were also carried out in Adamawa state.
In Yobe, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives in a market in Biu, killing about 18 people.
In Maiduguri, four female suicide bombers, attacked Muna Gari, a suburb of Maiduguri, killing about 14 people.
In Yola, about 40 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a mosque.
A unit commander of the army and about 15 soldiers were killed in November when the insurgents attacked a military unit in Sassawa, Yobe state.
The last straw was the Biu market attack, in which 18 people died.
Buratai wasted no time in sacking Attahiru from the battle front, on 6 December, just after six months, from 31 May when he assumed the command.
Attahiru had taken over the command as a replacement to Major General Leo Irabor, who went to command the Multinational Joint Task Force in Ndjamena, Chad.
Irabor is now the new Chief of Defence staff appointed by Buhari today.
Removed from the command in early December and replaced by Roger Nicholas, Attahiru was despatched to the army headquarters as deputy chief of policy and plans, a non-cambatant post.
His last posting before he was appointed chief of army staff, was as GOC of 82 Division of Nigerian Army.
However, in his own self-evaluation, Attahiru gave his command a pass mark.
In a handing-over note to Major General Roger Nicholas, he said that the army operations in the troubled North-east under his leadership eliminated five top Boko Haram leaders alongside 70 other terrorists in several confrontations.
“I must say that since I assumed duty as the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole on May 30 2017, it has been very eventful operationally and administratively, particularly coming at a time when Boko Haram Terrorists, BHT, who, having been technically defeated and could no longer conduct sustained operations against own troops, resorted largely to engaging in terrorism related activities.
“I carried out a quick evaluation of the operational situation of the theatre, resulting in the crucial decision to swiftly conduct the clearance operations that neutralised identified immediate threats posed by remnants of Boko Haram terrorists who were still seeking refuge in some remote areas within the Theatre, particularly in the fringes of the North-eastern international borders,” he said.
“This evaluation, also identified the need for each of the three sectors in the Theatre of operation to immediately establish Fire Support Coordination Cell, FSCC, which were employed continuously to degrade the Boko Haram terrorists in their enclaves and staging areas.
“These FSCC carried out artillery and aerial bombardments in conjunction with the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole on isolated BHT enclaves killing several Boko Haram terrorists and destroying their logistic base.
“Another upshot of the evaluation is the creation of dugouts along BHT crossing points to deny the group freedom of action and stem the conduct of their nefarious activities”, he said.
He said that operational support provided to troops of Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, during Operation RAWAN KADA in June 2017, led to the killing of over 70 Boko Haram terrorists and the capture of assorted automatic weapons.
“The period also witnessed the Operation DEEP PUNCH 2 which orchestrated series of precursor operations, including clearance operations, long range fighting patrols, ambushes, blocking operations as well as cordon and search operations.
“Suffice to note that during the operations, five high profile Boko Haram commanders and many foot soldiers were killed, while many other members of the group surrendered owing to the effectiveness of the operations”, he said.
“Non-kinetic operations were also conducted through coordinated media and information operations that led to the surrender of 72 Boko Haram terrorists, who were immediately inducted into Operation Safe Corridor”, he said.