I am very delighted to welcome you to my valedictory speech as part of the activities to mark my formal handing over of the mantle of leadership of Operation LAFIYA DOLE to Major General RI Nicholas as the Theatre Commander. I must say that since I assumed duty as the Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE on 30 May 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.
On assumption of command based on the COAS campaign plan for Op LAFIYA DOLE, 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 BHT who were still seeking refuge in some remote areas within the Theatre, particularly in the fringes of the north eastern international borders.
This evaluation, also identified the need for each of the 3 sectors in the Theatre of operation to immediately establish Fire Support Coordination Cell (FSCC) which were employed continuously to degrade the BHT 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 BHT 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.
Additionally, the security architecture of the theatre was rejigged with the inauguration of Mobile Strike Teams (MSTs) in August 2017 to reinforce the Mobile Brigade Concept (MBC) adopted in the Theatre to facilitate the quick defeat of the BHT.
In improving general operational vibrancy and troops’ responsiveness, a Special Forces In-theatre Training Team was set up in August 2017. The team has since then been touring units and formations within the Theatre to retrain and refresh troops on the fundamental concepts and skills of marksmanship, convoy and anti-ambush drills among others.
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, 5 high profile BHT commanders and many foot soldiers were killed, while many other members of the group surrendered owing to the effectiveness of the operations.
None kinetic operations were also conducted through coordinated media and information operations that led to the surrender of 72 BHT, who were immediately inducted into Operation SAFE CORRIDOR.
Furthermore, operational support was also provided to troops of Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) during Operation RAWAN KADA in June 2017, which led to the killing of over 70 BHT and the capture of assorted automatic weapons.
The Theatre Command equally facilitated enhanced security on the Lake Chad through continuous clearance of water weeds and patrol of the waterways resulting in lifting of ban on fishing activities in the Lake and the gradual restoration of economic activities thereby providing a lifeline and bringing succour to the indigenes.
Alongside the conduct of these operations in the theatre, the Command also ensured the successful hosting of Vice President Yemi Osibanjo during his visit to flag off the distribution of relief materials to displaced persons in the North East.
It also ensured a hitch free visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the Theatre during the occasion of Nigeria’s 57th Independence Anniversary. More also, Operation LAFIYA DOLE facilitated the Polio immunization of inaccessible children in the remote areas by providing adequate security to officials of the Ministry of Health.
Permit me to seize this opportunity to clear the air on certain insinuations that had arisen following my posting. May I point out here that such insinuations being touted by a cross section of the media are far from the truth, misleading and capable of eroding the successes so far achieved in the fight against insurgency in the North East. It could also send a wrong signal and precipitate disaffection among troops of the Nigerian Army and indeed the Theatre of operation. My redeployment to Army Headquarters is a routine posting premised on needs assessment and is a normal exercise in the Nigerian Army. It is a call to higher responsibility and I assure you of my resolve to serve the Nigerian Army and the nation even better in that new capacity.
At this juncture, I wish to thank the Chief of Army Staff for the opportunity to serve the nation in the capacity of Theatre Commander Op LAFIYA DOLE and to also assure you all that troops’ morale and fighting spirit remain high in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the North East.
Major General Ibrahim Attahiru delivered this valedictory So We h as Outgoing Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole