Nigerian military downplays Chad’s move to re-capture Baga from Boko Haram

In what has raised concerns over possible violation of Nigeria’s sovereignty, the Chadian government in collaboration with its Cameroonian counterpart, has sent troops to recapture Nigeria’s border town of Baga from Boko Haram insurgents, without the knowledge or approval of the Nigerian government.

The Nigerian military confirmed Monday it had no knowledge of an order by President Idriss Deby of Chad, deploying that country’s armed forces in pursuit of Boko Haram in Nigerian territory.

Regardless, defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, said the order makes little difference since Chad already belongs to a Multinational force alongside Nigeria, Cameroun and Niger, set up to tackle the terrorist group.

Boko Haram militants captured the town on January 3 after it sacked a base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, there and unleashed terror on the civilian population in the town.

Amnesty International said over 2,000 people were killed in the attack, while the Nigerian military said the casualty figure was not more than 150.

Nigerien and Chadian troops who were part of the MNJTF had withdrawn from the town prior to the attack.

On Saturday, thousands of people marched some kilometres waving the Chadian flag in support of Chadian troops dispatched to fight Boko Haram troops in Nigerian and Cameroon.

The Chadian president, Mr. Deby, said in a speech read by the country’s head of parliament that the aim of the troops was to capture Baga.

“We answered the call of (Cameroon’s) President Paul Biya. We cannot remain indifferent to what happens to our neighbours. Cameroon must not be left alone to face this threat that has so hurt innocent people in Cameroon and in Nigeria,” said Mr. Deby.
Apparently left in the dark, the Nigerian military, however, seems confused over the development.

The Defence Spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, confirmed that the government was unaware of the deployments but said that he would need to “verify”.

“I’ll need to verify what you are saying but it is not as if everything is out of order, there is Multinational Joint Task Force which allows us to interact with forces of neighbouring countries among which they are,” he told Premium Times.

“But even with that being the case, there cannot be solo operations in that area that will ignore the existing Nigeria’s arrangement for that area,” he added.
Security experts say the response of the Nigerian government to the development is worrying.
“The Nigerian government saying through the army spokesperson, General Olukolade that they are ‘lukewarm’ to Chad’s mission to Nigeria is very troubling to say the least. If Chad’s intentions and mission is good intended then why should the Nigerian government be kept out of the loop and be unenthusiastic? This questions the trust we as a people have in both governments. Would the Nigerian government not wish Chad assist them in rescuing occupied territories? Is there intelligence with the Nigerian administration that makes them suspicious of Chad; or are they uninterested in Nigeria’s liberation?” Peregrino Brimah, of the civil society group, Every Nigerian Do Something (ENDS).
Mr. Brimah said the announcement of Mr. Deby to his people that his troops were on a mission to re-capture Baga without informing President Goodluck Jonathan is similar to Mexico announcing it was going to rescue a troubled Texas without the knowledge of the United State government.
“Chad setting out to assist Cameroon at their request is appropriate, however for the Chadian president, Idriss Deby to announce formally to his people and to the international press that his troops will be invading Nigeria to “re-capture” Baga, without express permission and willful authorization by the Goodluck Jonathan administration is absurd. It is like Mexico deciding it will invade the United States to rescue a “plagued Texas” without the explicit approval of the United States government.”
This development is even more worrying with the allegation that elements in the Chadian and Nigerien armies are complicit in providing support for the terrorist group.

While suggesting better cooperation and trust between Nigeria and Chad, Mr. Brimah said Nigeria should not compromise on the issue of the violation of its national integrity and pride.

“Nigerians should not be forced to choose between Boko Haram terror and foreign violations of our national pride, sovereignty and international boundary laws. In the event of Chad “re-capturing” Baga; what are the terms of its returning this and other Nigerian territories to Nigeria? Such modalities should have been worked out before a Chadian proposition of a mission into Nigeria.”
Credit: Nicholas Ibekwe/PremiumTimes

Government and Army Generals are in denial of the obvious fact in my opinion; ...Nigeria is no longer the giant of Africa. Gone are the days when we deploy our fearless troops to support other African countries, now Chad and Cameroun are deploying troops to combat insurgency on Nigerian soil without prior notification and approval!!! smh