Nigerian top brass pay the price for failure on Boko Haram


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The Independent Online

Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president who was elected to crush the country’s rampant Boko Haram insurgency, has sacked the heads of his army, navy and airforce, along with senior defence chiefs.

In a move widely viewed as an attempt to defuse criticism for failing to defeat the jihadists, Mr Buhari, a retired army general, announced replacements for his military leaders on Monday night. President Buhari made crushing Islamist militant group Boko Haram his top priority when he won national elections this year.

Since his inauguration in May, he has moved his defence command centre to Boko Haram’s birthplace Maiduguri and is setting up the HQ for a multinational task force in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.

“The President has relieved the service chiefs, including the heads of the army, airforce and navy, of their appointments,” Mr Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina told AFP. The replacements were last night announced as Major-General Babagana Monguno, the new National Security Adviser; Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Defence Staff; and Major-General TY Buratai, Chief of Army Staff.


In June, Amnesty International accused Nigeria’s military of systematic human rights abuses and of responsibility for the deaths of 8,000 prisoners. It called for an investigation into top military officials, including the army and airforce chiefs. Former president Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticised for his inability to deal with the six-year insurgency in the north-east of Africa’s biggest oil producer, which has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people.

Army morale hit an all time low under Mr Jonathan and it was not until the start of 2015 that the militants were finally pushed back with the help of foreign mercenaries, troops from neighbouring countries and new equipment.

The outgoing officials were Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh; the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Kenneth Minimah; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu, a presidential spokesman said.

According to the BBC, at least 12 civilians were killed in Cameroon in a suspected Boko Haram suicide attack on Sunday night. Two soldiers also died along with two bombers who blew themselves up in Fotokol, near the border with Nigeria.

On Monday a suicide bomber on a bus killed one member of Nigeria’s civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) at the main checkpoint on the outskirts of the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.