French National Reportedly Captured By Nigerian Troops In Boko Haram Camp

The mysterious white man captured by Nigerian soldiers during last week’s storming of Boko Haram’s headquarters in the Sambisa Forest is a Frenchman and he specializes in repairing and unlocking armored personnel vehicles and other fighting equipment, Daily Trust learnt from authoritative military sources yesterday. The white man’s identity is being concealed by the Federal Government and military authorities for diplomatic reasons, the sources also said.

Defense Headquarters has been silent on the development since the news broke last Friday, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari announced that   Boko Haram’s last stronghold in the Sambisa forest, Borno State had been overrun by troops. Soldiers who took part in the operation told our correspondent yesterday that a white man was actually arrested in the Sambisa forest and that he has been providing “credible information” to military authorities. A source said, “He was arrested along the Bama axis of the Sambisa forest and agreed to give vital information provided he would be spared. I learnt that he is from France but authorities do not want to make his real identity known for diplomatic reasons…They  don’t want to jeopardize the success recorded.” Although some sources only said the captured white man is “from Western Europe,” Daily Trust learnt that he is actually a Frenchman. All Nigeria’s neighbours in the North East, namely Cameroon, Niger Republic and Chad are French speaking.

The French embassy in Nigeria did not respond to email and text message sent to it for comment yesterday.
How top officers led Sambisa offensive
The one month long military offensive that led to the capture of Sambisa Forest last Thursday was led by “the best hands” in the Nigerian Army and Air Force, sources close to the operation told Daily Trust yesterday. Before the renewed offensive to reclaim the dreaded forest where Boko Haram fighters held sway since 2013, officers between the ranks of Lieutenants, Captains and Majors normally led operations, sources said. This time around, more senior officers led the operation on all fronts during the final onslaught. It was gathered that the officers, besides various trainings they obtained at home, have been trained abroad and had participated in serious military operations.

The 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 sq mi) vast Sambisa Forest had been the nightmare of the Nigerian security forces, including their foreign allies, who provided various security reports over the years. It was gathered that some of the fighting troops were mobilized with light rocket propelled grenades [RPGs], weapons they did not use previously.  The light RPGs, according to one of our sources, could be carried on by soldiers on their shoulders for long distances because of their light weight and were used against far flung targets.

“With the exception of one major of the Nigerian Army, all the commanding officers that led the 4,200 troops into the Sambisa Forest are of the rank of Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel,” a soldier who participated in the operation said. He said “the Bama axis was led by a Colonel who viciously decimated many Boko Haram fighters. Together with his troops, he captured Alafa 1, 11 and 111 in the Sambisa Forest and freed over 1,000 people. He also captured nearly 500 suspects, mostly men who are being interrogated for having links with the Boko Haram.”

According to him, “some of the suspects are claiming that they were forcefully conscripted into the violent group while others have admitted that they belong to the group.” Another source said the Konduga/Aulari axis of the Sambisa Forest was captured by a daring army Major. “This Major is one of the heroes in the Nigerian Army. He was very close to the late Lieutenant Colonel Abu Ali of blessed memory. He knows the Sambisa Forest very well and was therefore directed to approach the forest through the infamous Gate One,”the source said. He added, “The Ngurosoye axis of the Sambisa Forest was led by a Lieutenant Colonel who is also a fearless and versatile officer. His 151 Battalion is known as Blocking Force. His troops recovered many AK47 rifles of fleeing Boko Haram insurgents and they also freed many women and children.”

The real operation
Sources said during the planning to re-take Sambisa Forest, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. General Tukur Buratai frequented Maiduguri almost on daily basis. “Sometimes he passed the night there (in Maiduguri) and sometimes he went back to Abuja. He personally commanded the general operation,” an officer who craved for anonymity said. He said radar with monitors was mounted at the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army and everything, including troop movement; logistics, ground operation and aerial reconnaissance both day and night were closely monitored with precision.

He said, “The close monitoring from Maiduguri helped a great deal in reducing mistakes. This gave the troops the confidence to relentlessly march on during operations. The fact that the mine detectors deployed to the Sambisa forest also demobilized all the bombs planted by the insurgents gave our troops added impetus. The mine detectors normally detonated most of the IEDs with ease and also cleared the terrain for armoured vehicles to move freely.”

The source that added some Boko Haram commanders and foot soldiers who were arrested long ago and “de-radicalized” were also imbedded in the operation. “The repentant insurgents, some members of the civilian JTF and local vigilantes know the Sambisa Forest very well, far better than the maps we used in the operation and therefore, they assisted greatly in helping us to locate hideouts. Also, sophisticated fighter jets and drones that have capacity to monitor things as far as away as 600 meters were deployed to the Sambisa forest and worked day and night,” he said.

The fall of ‘Camp Zero’
A military officer told our correspondent that this was not the first time attempt made to capture “Camp Zero” in Sambisa Forest where the factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau used as his hide out on different occasions. “This is the second time Camp Zero is taken. The first was during the JTF (Joint Task Force) in June 2013 before it (JTF) was disbanded and the area was lost completely,” the officer said.
He said despite the success recorded, there is worry among the military high command because some of the things expected to be recovered at the building were not found. “It is likely they (Boko Haram) are somewhere because they moved away with their equipment and prized possessions, including the Chibok girls in possession of Shekau group,” he said.

He said there were other dreaded cells that have been deserted by the Boko Haram terrorists, such as the ones in Kareto and Gudumbali at the height of offensive last year and another one in Kukawa which was reclaimed this year. It was learnt that while some of the Chibok girls and other captives are with the Shekau camp, many of them are with the Mamman Nur faction, led by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, son of the group’s late Mohammed Yusuf. They are suspected to be held in cells in northern Borno State.

“Camp Zero has for a long time been an objective for our troops but it is not the end of Sambisa in the true sense of the crisis. Boko Haram terrorists have been trained in the art of war, so it is likely they moved away for tactical reasons,” he said. The source said the COAS, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole as well as the GOCs of the army’s 3, 7 and 8 Divisions and other key Army Headquarters officers held a marathon meeting on December 24 and continued meeting yesterday on the operations in the North East. “They had a break on the 25th because of Christmas and they went to open the roads from Maiduguri to Damasak and to Baga. Their main concern in the meeting is the disappearance of Boko Haram leaders with their equipment and lack of trace of the Chibok girls,” the officer said. Sources said beside the equipment found there, Boko Haram fighters had raided many workshops and la  boratories in schools around the Sambisa Forest in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and had fabricated fighting equipment and chemicals with the facilities they carted away.

There is controversy as to how Camp Zero actually looked like. While some soldiers that participated in the operation said it has two underground buildings and tunnels as well as hardware and equipment for the training of the disbanded National Guards, some officers told our correspondent that the place was actually inherited from the Sambisa Game Reserve.

“The National Guard were to train there but were never there. A team went to inspect the place in the 80s but the movement and training did not hold. The solid structure there belonged to the forest management authority,” he said.

Source: French National Reportedly Captured By Nigerian Troops In Boko Haram Camp Is A Military Mechanic Specializing In APCs | Sahara Reporters


Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their six children Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne arrive at Haneda International Airport on November 8 in Tokyo, Japan.
Something about the way the internet disperses information has made us meaner, or at least, it has made our capacity for meanness more obvious.
When I first heard the reports on Tuesday that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, my first instinct, like many people on the internet, was to look for a joke in the form of a tweet ― a quip that could be liked and shared.

I would feel more embarrassed to admit that, except I am so far from alone. Within seconds of the news breaking on TMZ, “Brangelina” jokes were coming fast and furious, complete with Jennifer Aniston GIFs meant to connote something along the lines of “I told you so.” People practiced their puns in real time, screamed in all-caps, and fought to become the tweet that came out on top.

But there’s another, more simple way to look at this: Two adults with six children just split up. And those children will have to deal with the pain that comes along with divorce for years. I have never had to live through that ― my parents are still together ― but by talking to so many of my friends who have, I understand how painful divorce can be for children of any age, but particularly young children.

Divorce is sad, not funny, especially when children are involved. I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty right now about their jokes. I just wish I hadn’t felt the need to make them, as well. That’s all I have by way of hot takes right now. Sorry.















Pardon me for kick-starting this missive with this peculiarly Nigerian locution: How far?

The enquiry contains more than a hint of jocosity, to be sure, but there is nothing jocose about it insofar as it relates to the state of the nation, the Nigerian condition, of which you are a perceptive observer and incisive analyst.

I say nothing of course of your coruscating erudition and wit, in contradistinction to those hacks who, in desperate yearning for anything emblematic of distinction, however fleeting and fragmentary, however tenuous, are forever advertising themselves as “Abuja-based public affairs commentators.”

The truth of the matter, the indissoluble actuality as you personally experienced it during your memorable and eventful sojourn in the House of the People in that city, with its asphyxiating sterility is that they are for the most part unemployed and unattached freeloaders, if not unreconstructed scroungers outright. Even in your present disposition, you have encountered a surfeit of them, I am sure.

It is deeply to be lamented that the aforementioned disposition has incommoded you in no small measure, rendering you not just invisible but also inaudible. I still find it incomprehensible, inexplicable even, that a person of your vivaciousness, spontaneity and sensibilities can feel obliged to observe so much restraint in face of the daily occurrences that provoke nothing short of atrabilious rage even when each is considered as a singularity.

Taken cumulatively, as a totality, the occurrences are nothing if not benumbing. Your resolute and unflappable equanimity in the face of all this is eminently to be lauded.

Unlike many of our compatriots of easy gullibility, I do not suppose for a nanosecond, however, that this apparent equanimity stems from fecklessness; I know you too much to entertain such a misimpression. I know it has been forced upon you by the rules of engagement under which you currently operate.

When you were not thus shackled, your voice resonated with unmatched clarity and eloquence rendered all the more arresting by your consummate mastery of cadenced, sesquipedalian oration delivered right off the cuff – unlike some of your colleagues who could not make the most prosaic statement off script and are consequently not remembered for anything except their propensity for self-aggrandisement of the most ravenous kind, by which I mean, gorging themselves remorselessly on the national patrimony.

It cannot have been easy for a person of your public spiritedness and unswerving commitment to what is noble and just and of good report to live through an almost endless march of events of the most stultifying kind and yet refrain from giving utterance to disapproval and disapprobation even in the most subdued of tones, sotto voce, so to speak.

And the events, in all their discombobulation, in all their furious gallop, are legion. Where to start, then? Where to delineate as a point of departure in this excursus?

Is it the Senate Rules of Order, as amended, which threw up a leadership that has been embroiled in a crisis of authority and legitimacy and credibility and integrity since that body launched its current session more than a year ago? Or the perjury trial, the carnivalesque optics of which may appear to a first-time visitor to these parts as a coronation, replete with fawning adulation and saccharine glorification?

Or Budget 2016 that has performed enough disappearing and re-appearing acts to turn the Cheshire cat into a rank amateur in the business, a mewling infant? Or again Budget 2016 that was padded with layers upon layers of pork when a version which seemed closest to being authentic was eventually found?

Or should I commence with the crash of the oil market and its deleterious consequences for everything: the Exchequer and the economy, not forgetting the Naira which has since become like an orphan abandoned, and the attendant disequilibrium and disarticulation in transactions of every kind and even social intercourse?

I will enter no comment on the vexed and perennial subject of fuel subsidy, whether real or contrived. I recall your spirited and illumining intervention the last time it was the focal point, the core issue of perfervid national discourse, and how it compelled abandonment of the perilous trajectory on which the authorities were determined to embark, and a near-complete reversion to the status quo ante, consonant with vociferous public demand.

The price of that precious combustible has since escalated, with nary a public rally by the usual sworn opponents. But where in the time of regulation there was a drought there is now in the time of de-regulation a cascading torrent, a glut. Still, despite the superabundant revenue accruing to Abuja following deregulation, there have been dark intimations, registering just above whispering level, of some stubborn residual subsidy requiring radical excision.

Save your heaviest ordnance for that conjuncture, Aburo. It is not quite over yet.

Something tells me, Aburo, you are fully primed for the looming battle for the succession on the home turf. Having worked in close juxtaposition with the Comrade Governor – no, I under- state it horribly and crave your indulgence to take it back – having served him as trusted adviser, sounding board, confidant, having taken charge of organising his schedule and his work flow, you doubtless apprehend more than anyone else the factors that have conduced to his phenomenal success.

Do you espy any of those traits or factors in any of the contenders? It is again deeply to be regretted that even if you do, you cannot so proclaim under current rules of engagement. Such, alas, is the perversity of bureaucracy.

But you are nothing if not creative, my dear Aburo. I am sure you will fabricate, with your accustomed ingenuousness a design that will help beam on the battle for the succession your unrivalled knowledge of the Comrade Governor, his vision, his work habits, his temperament, his proclivities and all those factors that shaped the great legacy he is bequeathing to the grateful people of Edo State and indeed to posterity.

Someone who claims to be privy to recondite secrets tells me that reports to the effect that the Grand Fixer has been neutered, rendered hors de combat, are vastly exaggerated, and that he is lurking patiently in the shadows, waiting to charge into battle at the sound of the bell.

Is there any veracity to the report, even a scintilla of verisimilitude? I ask mostly of our curiosity, not from diffidence. I know that with you and the other stalwarts in his corner, the Comrade Governor can contain a dozen grand fixers.

That would be all for now, my dear Aburo. Something tells me we will hear from or of you soon, over the chants of victory and the promise of continuity.

Until then, I remain your Egbon and kindred soul.

Olatunji Dare