Nigeria Refuses Chad’s Help In the War Against Boko Haram

Nigeria Refuses Chad’s Help In the War Against Boko Haram

Chadian army officers, who are part of the West African Joint Military Task Force to fight Boko Haram insurgency, are complaining that the Nigeria’s Federal Government (FG) is stalling their operations to help in fighting terrorists.

Nigeria refused to let Chad soldiers to press deep into territory dominated by the militant group.

Chad’s army after having beaten al Qaeda in Mali two years ago, considers it could end Boko Haram on its own. It has jagged up victories that have pushed the Nigerian insurgents back from the border with Cameroon.

But Nigeria is keen to press ahead with its own army campaign against Boko Haram trying to stop insurgency out of major towns before the March 28 presidential election.

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According to Reuters, it would be an blushing to President Goodluck Jonathan as he seeks reelection for a smaller nation to tackle Nigeria's security challenges.

In their frontward military base in the town of Gambaru on the Nigeria-Cameroon border, Chadian soldiers showed dozens of guns taken from Boko Haram and a burnt-out armoured vehicle decorated with black and white Arabic script.

"We turned back because Nigeria did not authorise us to go any further," army spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's spokesperson for operations in the North East, Mike Omeri, said collaboration between Chadian and Nigerian armies has brought some key successes and any issues would be resolved via existing command structures.

But the Chadians say there have been no combined operations between the two militaris. Chad's proposal to join a Nigerian aggressive to take Baga, where a lot of Nigerians were killed in the beginning of the year, was snubbed, Bermandoa said.

Officials from Chad, Niger and Cameroon say lack of cooperation from Nigeria has for months disadvantaged efforts to put together a regional taskforce against insurgency. Chad was obliged to take independent action in January, under an agreement that allows it to pursue terrorists into Nigeria, after Boko Haram violence started to obstruct imports to its economy.

With Niger and Cameroon disposing thousands of troops on their borders, blocking escape routes for Boko Haram, the tide may be turning. In what Nigeria has branded a sign of desperation, the Islamist group has carried out wave of suicide attacks and threatened to disrupt the election.

Francois Conradie, analyst with South African-based NKC Research, said that if the current offensive can be sustained, Boko Haram could quickly be driven out of the remaining towns it holds. It would, however, remain a deadly rural guerrilla force.

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All of this is good news for stability and will probably be to Mr Jonathan’s electoral advantage,” he said.

Many Nigerians ask why it took so long to act. Boko Haram killed thousands last year and kidnapped many more in its six-year campaign for an Islamist caliphate in Africa's most populous country.

Niger, Cameroon and Chad say Nigeria ignored the uprising in its economically backward northeast, an opposition stronghold.

But in recent months, the presidential candidate for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari, a former military Head of State has gained popularity with voters desperate for rough policies both on corruption and Boko Haram.

Under the pressure from the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria's electoral body declared a six week shift to the Feb. 14 poll, to let the army to tackle the security situation in the northeast so balloting could go ahead there.

Crisis Group's Africa deputy programme director, Ernst Hogendoorn, said the government seemed to have caused the postponement in the hope the APC would slip up or the army could promote Jonathan by defeating Boko Haram.

"Boko Haram has certainly suffered a strategic setback ... Clearly this improves Goodluck Jonathan's chances somewhat," said Hogendoorn. "The question is do any of these forces have the ability to maintain this tempo, particularly the Chadians and to a lesser degree the Nigerians?"

Meanwhile, Buhari, has already condemned Jonathan for trusting on Chad to push back Boko Haram, saying his administration would tackle the problem alone. Many in the military and the government are keen to limit foreign involvement on Nigerian soil, diplomats say.

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After Nigeria's army retook Baga last month, Army Chief Major General Kenneth Minimah said his soldiers would recapture a handful of remaining towns before the elections, listing Dikwa as one of them. “The war is almost ended," he said.


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