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Nigerian Navy Stuck In Maiduguri, Two Years After Baga Attack

Two years after the Nigerian Navy withdrew from Baga, the service has not redeployed and re-occupied its base in the town. 

In December 2018, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters overran Nigerian Marine Police, Naval outpost and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) base after fierce battles in the fishing town of Baga.

Baga is located in Kukawa Local Government Area of northern Borno and close to the shores of Lake Chad.

HumAngle understands that the naval personnel put up a stiff resistance before abandoning the outpost at Mile three, which lies 3 miles from Baga, an area popularly called Fish Dam.

The navy has remained in Maiduguri but supports the MNJTF as well as Operation Lafiya Dole.

In August, as part of a series of engagements with security chiefs, Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, met with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja.

Zulum had a closed-door meeting with the Chief of Naval Staff and also made a case for the deployment of more naval personnel to Borno.

He described the Nigerian Navy as a critical component of operations in the shores of Lake Chad.

The meeting preceded the relocation of displaced persons to Baga after the Borno State government reconstructed and rehabilitated public buildings, residential houses, schools, healthcare facilities, markets and water facilities.

HumAngle learned that the state government had supported the navy with boats, a common practice by the  government of providing equipment support to the military.

The Nigerian Navy has personnel embedded in the counter-insurgency operation against Boko Haram and ISWAP.  It was in 2016, following a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari that the navy first established and deployed personnel to man the Naval Outpost in Baga and operate around the shores of the Nigerian section of Lake Chad.

The navy was also expected to dredge the Baga axis of Lake Chad to improve water flow and livelihood opportunities for the local population.

The navy and maritime support equipment such as gunboats and amphibious vehicles will play an important role in protecting Baga and environs and providing much-needed security in the Lake Chad region. 

The importance of maritime capability led to the bolstering of the MNJTF 7 Brigade by a gunboat company of Nigerian Army’s amphibious forces in support of Nigerian Navy’s Lake Chad outpost.

In March, Chadian forces deployed boats to support their Operation Bahoma Wrath against insurgents after an attack on troops on the peninsula. 

Both ISWAP and Boko Haram Bakura factions are known to use boats to support their activities in the Lake Chad region.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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