Boko Haram ‘surround’ Maiduguri, say elders
Kano – Boko Haram fighters have surrounded the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri and are
preparing an imminent takeover, an influential regional group claimed on Thursday, calling for
“They have completely surrounded the city of
Maiduguri,” said the Borno Elders Forum, which
is made up of retired senior civilian and military
officials as well as community leaders.
“It is apparent that their imminent target is to
take the city of Maiduguri, the Borno state
capital,” they said in a statement.
Borno, Yobe and Adamawa regions have been under a state of emergency since May last year
but despite the Nigerian army driving Boko Haram out of Maiduguri, thousands of people
have died in the countryside and many more have been forced to flee.
“We wish to call on the federal government to
urgently fortify in and around the city of Maiduguri,” the elders added.
“The insurgents… are nursing the ambition of attacking the city in all directions. There is
credible local intelligence information to that
I am aware that insurgent forces are massing up at staging areas on three cardinal directions from the city. What I cannot vouch for is is already they are taking positions and preparing for an assault or a siege.
The question is can the insurgents take the city?
The answer to that question is manifold.
1. Bama, Buni Yadi Gwoza, Gamboru-Ngala, Madagali, Bazza and Michika were impressive operations, but already the insurgent lines and forces are stretched. Taking on Maiduguri is a whole different ball game. It is a big urban settlement that will require thousands of men to invest, take and then defend from counter attacks. While the 7 Division maybe dying, it is nevertheless still a powerful force that can easily be reinforced by units transferred from other divisions.
2. While the insurgents have shook the world with their rapid two pronged offensive, this doesn’t translate to absolute control over contiguous territories rather these captured towns especially in Yobe State are by and large huge islands in a Nigerian sea.
3. Taking Maiduguri is a bit dicey not only in numbers of men especially if the insurgents choose to organize a siege (which frankly would be plain stupid as they would need to use almost all their combined power to surround Maiduguri leaving very few men to hold captured territories and no reserve to defend their rear) but should the Nigerian Government decide to throw all available forces into the fight the insurgents could end up facing up to three divisions probably backed up with the still-arriving Mi-35 attack helicopters. And they would not be able to withstand such a heavy assault (in fact I doubt if they will survive it except almost broken) since by investing Maiduguri they would fully lose their tactical advantage I.e guerilla tactics, as they would have fully transitioned to conventional tactics which would also leave them vulnerable to the overwhelming firepower a reinforced field corps of the Nigerian Army (probably drawing in 3 and 2 Divisions and elements from 1 and 81 Divisions to beef up 7 Division) can bring to bear.
So that having been said what can make the Nigerian Government lose Maiduguri?
1. A lack of reinforcements for 7 Division. That’s both weapons and men to enable it stand its ground. I would say more artillery and armour plus several thousand soldiers maybe a brigade is what the 7 Div needs (as reinforcements) to roll back any Boko Haram assault on the city
2. A lack of courage and morale amongst the troops already in place there. Should courage and morale fail in the troops there, no amount of reinforcements will stop Maiduguri from falling.
Already rank indiscipline is an issue with two confirmed mutinies and one serious incident of indiscipline by the troops reported this year. Then also the despicable episode of soldiers’ wives rioting and blocking the barracks gates to force the GOC of 7 Div to rescind an order given to troops to GI to the field and perform their duties as stated in their sworn oaths. This was because the wives were afraid of their husbands being killed by Boko Haram. An internal security report by the Army’s Directorate Of Military Intelligence that I was privileged to read blamed the soldiers for instigating their wives to riot because they did not want to go to the field out of fear of the insurgents.
So yes this is a very real problem with discipline and morale the 7 Division has got.
Will an insurgent assault on Maiduguri materialize? It remains to be seen.
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