The Metele Killings


In spite of repeated claims by the Armed Forces that the Boko Haram terrorists have been depleted and highly degraded, recent actions of the terrorists certainly suggest otherwise. Week in and out, stories abound of the sect wrecking havoc on the Nigerian forces, sometimes even over-running their bases and killing the soldiers.
This was actually the case on Sunday, November 18, 2018, when the terrorists again attacked the 157 Task Force Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Metele, Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State. This time around, this attack was one of the deadliest, as scores of the soldiers were reportedly killed by the insurgents.
Certainly, the recent Metele attack has heightened fears about the repeated assurances by the military that Nigeria is, indeed, winning the war against insurgency and extremism.
The attack on Metele was not the first of its kind, as the battalion had previously been attacked on October 8, this year, which left at its wake the death of 18 soldiers and six officers. Also, 120 personnel were declared missing after the attack.
In the fresh attack, though no official figure has been put on the casualty rate, it was alleged that about 118 soldiers died in the attack, while others are still missing. The soldiers, who were casualties in this attack were said to have been the reinforcement that were sent to the battalion after the October 8 attack that saw the depletion of the forces.
Interestingly, the Islamic State in West African (ISWA), a faction of the Boko Haram insurgent group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to reports, the soldiers were taken unawares, as they were killed and their base burnt with their arms and ammunition. The death toll is among the highest since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015.
While The Tide condemns in strong terms the attack, we are, however, concerned that Boko Haram terrorists can still inflict this degree of loss on Nigerian soldiers at a time the Federal Government claims that the insurgents have been decimated.
This unfortunate incident puts to question the intelligence and information gathering capacity of the military, especially in the North East, which for several years has been the Boko Haram enclave. It is regrettable that the Army and the soldiers, who are ordinarily, expected to secure and protect the territorial integrity of the country and the lives and property of Nigerians, could be that exposed, disgraced and butchered like chickens by insurgents, with a sense of ignominy.
If the insurgents could succeed to that degree against the Army, we wonder what would be the fate of ordinary Nigerian citizens, who are unarmed and unprotected. This unfortunate incident, therefore, calls for serious introspection and comprehensive review of our approach and strategy to the war on insurgency.
There is the need for the military authorities to get to the root of this matter, and uncover the remote and immediate causes of this national embarrassment, with a view to nipping in the bud future occurrences.
We challenge the Federal government and the Army to unmask saboteurs who may be behind this attack. It is high time we stopped playing politics with insurgency and move to decisively and effectively end the Boko Haram scourge in the country.
The Metele saga clearly brings to the fore the lack of professionalism on the part of our soldiers. It is unimaginable that a troop of insurgents can easily over-run a battalion of Nigerian soldiers within a twinkle of an eye. This clearly exposes the soldiers as ill-prepared and further puts lies to the claim by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government that the Boko Haram insurgents have been technically defeated.
It is, therefore, incumbent on the military and other security agencies in the country to put their acts together. There is the urgent need for the various arms of the military including the Army, Airforce and Navy to synergise, unite and work together to fight this scourge of insurgency in the land. Only their best will suffice now.
A situation where there is often a seeming rivalry among these arms, leaves much to be desired, and this perceived flaw has apparently dealt a devastating blow to the war against insurgency. This is the time to confront the common enemy head on.
At a time like this, paying adequate compensations to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives is not out of place. This will go a long way to boost the morale of those still in active service. This war against insurgency must be won at all cost.