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Why ending terrorism is ‘difficult’ in Nigeria — General Atolagbe

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A former Director of Peace-keeping operations with the Nigerian Army and Commander of Operations Safe Haven, Major General Anthony Atolagbe (rtrd) has explained factors responsible for the difficulties in reducing terrorism to zero percent in Nigeria

General Atolagbe, in an exclusive interview with Nigerian Tribune, explained that terrorism is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding however that Nigerian military are sought after for peacekeeping operations outside due to their capacity and competence.

He said, “Terrorism is not a basket ball or a football game and you will see that even around the world. Terrorism is not peculiar to Nigeria. The inability to reduce it to zero per cent is also not peculiar to Nigeria. Let the public be first of all aware of some of the things that are associated with terrorism and the fight against it. If you talk about our involvement in peace-keeping operations, I am lucky to have been in such operations about eight times. So, I can speak conveniently about our involvement outside the country.

“Nigerians are sought after to hold some key appointments in peace keeping missions outside Nigeria. Some of us were deployed for such operations in various and good capacities because of our competence and our display of intellect when we go outside. I can tell you a good number of our officers are well trained and are professionally competent.”

Continuing, the retired general explained that conventional training among other factors are what hinders the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

“Regarding terrorism within the country, there are so many factors that are responsible. Terrorism has an aspect of guerilla warfare and it is not like the conventional warfare which is what we were trained in. Terrorism is a sort of operation that a group of people can just deliver terror in small groups, like carrying a bomb in your body and bringing a whole building down.

“Even in advanced countries, you will see somebody will just hold a gun and walk in to a concert and bring about 50 or more down people down. Those are the kind of things were experiencing in the country. The troops needed time to start getting trained along those lines and get used to that kind of operations. A lot of personnel were taken outside the country to placeslike Belarus, South Africa and other places for training on special operations of that nature. And then, we did not have the required assets, both air assets and other military assets that we require to deliver the required punch,” he stated further

He added by giving kudos to the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for changing the face of Nigeria’s military, noting that the insurgents have been severely degraded

“But thanks to the last government that made procurements for some fighter aircrafts I like to put them, which have changed the face of the warfare. I am aware that the insurgents have been severely degraded and they are disorientated right now, even though we still hear about some pockets ofattacks in some isolated places. What the people in the theatres need to do is to continue to contain the attacks. Stop the terrorists before they strike. That is, being proactive. Get the necessary intelligence that they require and then ensure they do a lot of force protection on their own personnel so that they can reduce owncasualties.

“Like I advised sometime ago, when they finish clearing a particular area they should not leave the place empty. They should do an assessment of the level of threats and own capacity required in such a place and deploy people there accordingly. If it is military and mobile policemen or counter-terror police they need to put there, let them put them there. If it is the regular policemen they want to put, let them do so. Where they think it is only military men that need to fight in that environment, let them put them there. But they should not leave any space unprotected and perhaps assume the place has been cleared and nobody will come there again. The terrorists don’t have a home or a base. They just appear anywhere to deliver destruction and terror,” he added

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