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Boko Haram: Chief of Army Staff relocates to N’East

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen, Kenneth Minimah, has relocated to the North-East  to personally supervise the war against  Boko Haram insurgents in the  zone.Our correspondents gathered that the decision of the COAS   to join  his colleagues in the other services  in the zone was largely responsible for the recent successes recorded by the military.

There had been a public outcry over  the increased rate of the massacre of innocent civilians, including schoolchildren, by Boko Haram  terrorists in the North-East.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence and the Army, George Sekibo, confirmed the development toThe PUNCH on Sunday

Sekibo explained that Minimah’s  relocation  was in compliance with the committee’s resolution directing him to move to the  zone  to personally coordinate military operations there.

When asked what action the committee  would have taken if the COAS  had not heeded the February 26   directive, the committee chairman replied,  “What action do you want again? The Chief of Army Staff has already relocated.”

A source said that Minimah was collaborating   with the  Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Olusola Amosu, whose men provide air support for the Special Forces drawn from the Army, the Nigerian Navy, and others.

The  Senate  committee   had in a two-page statement, explained that  it came up with the decision  that the COAS  should move to the North-East  after   a two-hour brainstorming session with  him  on the way forward out of the Boko Haram menace.

It    also directed the   Army  to re-strategise on possible new ways of curbing Boko Haram excesses in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states by mobilising all available military resources for the purpose.

The statement read  in part, “The Senate Committee on Defence and Army condemned the atrocity being unleashed by  Boko Haram elements on innocent citizens   and in particular the   massacre of students of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State.

“The committee has by this, issued a directive that the Chief of Army Staff take the following actions (a), Re-strategise on possible new ways of curbing these excesses, (b) mobilise all available military resources and face the insurgents, relocate his office to Maiduguri for urgent actions to curtail the repeated attacks by the insurgents on innocent Nigerians.”

Minimah has also embarked on a major overhaul of the army hierarchy in the North- East to better position it to crush the insurgents.

Investigations revealed that Minimah had replaced the Commander of the   7th Infantry Division,    Maj.-Gen. Junaid Bindawa, with Maj.-Gen A. Mohammed.

A military source described Mohammed, nicknamed ‘bandit,’  as one of the most effective Major-Generals  in the  army.

Curiously, when the list of postings and appointments were released by the new Army Chief on February 12, 2014, the Director,   Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Olajide Laleye, was silent on the change in the leadership of the 7th Infantry Division.

Laleye had said that Bindawa was retained as the GOC, 7 Div.   which was created on August 19, 2013 to take over  the prosecution of the campaign against the terrorists in the North-East.

It was further gathered that   Mohammed took over from Bindawa a fortnight ago.

Our source said,  “The GOC has been replaced by Maj.-Gen. Mohammed. He has since taken over. The  man is very rugged that is why he is called the ‘bandit.’

“He was very rugged as a young officer; in fact one of the most rugged military officers. He is very  fearless.”

Our correspondents  learnt that Minimah  also redeployed the Commander of the 21 Brigade, Maiduguri, Brig. Gen. Yusuf, and replaced him with Brig. Gen Ogundele.

Yusuf was said to have  handed over to  Ogundele in Maiduguri on Saturday.

It was learnt that the redeployment exercise also affected some  officers who occupied the positions of Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff to the former Brigade Commander.

Since the  7th Infantry Division was established  six months ago,   it  has had three GOCs.

The first GOC, Maj.-Gen. Obadiah Ethan,   handed over to   Bindawa  on December  28, 2013.

The Director, Army Public Relations   confirmed the leadership  change  in  the 7 Division   in a telephone interview  with one of our correspondents on Sunday.

“It is true that a new GOC has been appointed to head the 7th Div. He resumed about two weeks ago; it is not true that the Nigerian Army hid it from the public. It is not a secret because you cannot hide him,”  he said.

However, Laleye said that he was not aware of the redeployment of the Commander of the 21 Brigade as he had been out of the office since Friday.

When our correspondent contacted the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, he said that he “was not disposed to discussing the location of the Chief of Army Staff.” [Punch]

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