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Security Tracker Disputes Nigerian Military Figure On Boko Haram

The bulk of the “tremendous successes” Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff says have been recorded in the past two months may have had more input from foreign troops other than the country’s, according to available data.

According to statistics from the Nigerian Security Tracker (NST), between April 8 and June 8, a total number of 1,596 insurgents were killed.

The number is a close estimate to the number given by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, that 1,429 insurgents had been killed and 116 Boko Haram informants, spies, and coordinators arrested during the period when he moved to the war front.

Burutai spoke to journalists in Abuja after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, June 8, 2020.

On April 8, 2020, the Chadian Army broke the news that “a thousand terrorists have been killed, 50 motorised canoes have been destroyed” through the spokesperson, Col. Azem Bermendoa Agouna.

In May 2020, Cameroonian soldiers also killed five members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of Boko Haram.

In summary, nearly 1,600 insurgents were killed during the period.

Several data reports suggest that 65.7 per cent lost their lives during battles with soldiers in Chadian Cameroonian territories, not Nigeria.

Further analysis shows that when the additional figures are removed, a total of 591 fatalities were recorded by the insurgent groups directly from attacks by Nigerian troops.

This is an improvement on the previous two-month period (February to April) when 509 insurgents were reported killed.

However, between December 2018, and February, this year, 620 jihadi fighters were killed by state actors.

NST data also shows that in the two months that the COAS was supervising army operations in the Northeast, 767 civilians (including 276 victims of kidnapping) and 116 soldiers lost their lives.

Buratai in the forefront

The period, from April 8, is symbolic because the COAS relocated to the Northeast around the time to oversee operations in the field and be directly involved in the fight against terrorists.

At the time, he personally led troops on patrol in forests located in Borno’s Mafa Local Government Area.

On Monday, the COAS attributed the “tremendous successes” recently recorded to the fact that Nigerian troops were putting in their best.

“This is a tremendous achievement, our intelligence corps along with the Department of State Services and, of course, our good friends the Civilian Joint Task Force have worked very hard to see that this is achieved and I assure you that things will continue to improve as the days go by.

“Tremendous success has been achieved and we are very happy with what is going on, the morale of the troops in the trenches is very high at the moment, and their loyalty and commitment are not in doubt.

“Surely you will agree with me that the troops’ morale is very high; it is something of trust, something of confidence, and something that will raise the spirit of any officer or soldier when he sees his Chief of Army Staff in the trenches along with him,” he said.

Buratai added that he would soon be returning to the Northeast for the final push against the insurgents and to consolidate on past achievements.


Several events, which occurred during the period, appear to dim the shine in the Chief of Army Staff’s statement that the morale of troops is very high and that some of the officers are “even ready to take the bullet” for him.

In May, soldiers who were on patrol in Gujba, Yobe State, and lost two of their colleagues to multiple improvised explosive device explosions and an ambush by Boko Haram fighters, cursed the Nigerian Army for not providing adequate protection.

“It will not be well with the army for this thing they have done to us,” one of the soldiers said in a video recorded shortly after the attack.

“Look at how much suffering they have caused us. It will not be well with the army…, it will not be well with you for life.”

The Defence Headquarters reacted the next day by describing the aggrieved soldiers as people suffering from “mental snap/distress occasioned by the fog of war” and said they would be observed and counselled.

Between Saturday evening and Tuesday afternoon, ISWAP members killed at least five soldiers and 69 civilians in separate attacks in Borno State.

In Northwest Nigeria, over 40 residents of Kadisau, a community in Katsina’s Faskari Local Government Area, also lost their lives on Tuesday evening to a brutal terror attack.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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