The Nigerian army is following through on President Buhari’s order to open a command and control center in Maiduguri. The Borno State capital has been a frequent target of Boko Haram militants in the six year insurgency in the northeast.
From Maiduguri, Colonel Sani Usman, acting director of public relations for the Nigerian army, said, “The president, during his inaugural address…made mention of relocating [a] command and control center to the epicenter of the war front.”
He said the center will serve as a forward command base.
“Essentially, it is an elaboration of the already existing army headquarters command and control arrangement. Invariably, the fight against terrorism and the insurgency will be monitored, coordinated and controlled from this center.”
Col. Usman said the army has communicated with the local population about its plans. Usman, himself, had been stationed in Maiduguri earlier.
“We have also been in constant touch with all the relevant stakeholders in the community.”
Maiduguri is a strategic location in the fight against Boko Haram.
“Maiduguri is very, very, very important. You remember, prior to the insurgency…Maiduguri had been nicknamed ‘the home of peace.’ Invariably, every segment of Nigerian society is represented in Maiduguri. Our hope and prayer is that we should be able to kind of bring this insurgency to a logical end so that life will go back to normal.”
Usman said besides Maiduguri’s historic and social relevance, it has “economic importance to the Nigerian society, not just the northeast.”
The colonel said the army continues to advance against Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest and is closing in on the militants’ main camp. Many other smaller camps, he said, have been destroyed.
“Very soon we will definitely destroy all the camps of Boko Haram terrorists within that Sambisa Forest,” he said, and added, “The establishment of this center is not to create another layer of command structure, but will just add impetus” to operations to “bring terrorism to an end.”
Neighboring countries’ military forces have also been fighting Boko Haram, which has launched raids into Chad, Cameroon and Niger. They have joined Nigeria in a multi-national task force.
Usman said that Nigeria is now commanding that task force with headquarters in N’djamena, the capital of Chad. “So, basically that is entirely a separate arrangement or kind of sub-regional arrangement. The headquarters is just to enable the commanders of the Nigerian army and, of course, indeed, other services to be in close touch with the field as it is,” he said.