Charles Nwoke, Abuja, Nigeria
December 1, 2020
Image courtesy of local sources. Fair use.
Court-Martial in Abuja on Monday convicted Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, a former Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, who once led the country’s offensive against Boko Haram.
According to the PUNCH report, the military court found the Major-General, guilty of violating some sections of the rules on the use of social media for personnel of the Nigerian armed forces.
The decree was promulgated on 11th June 2018, on the directives of General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff.
Section 15 (g) of the policy specifically forbids personnel of the Nigeria Army from “posting any video, audio, materials pictures during exercises/operations.”
However, the Court-Martial found Maj. Gen. Olonisakin guilty of producing and publicizing a video on the fight against insurgency in the northeast in a manner that humiliated and made a mockery of the Nigerian military.
Therefore, he was ordered to be demoted by at least three years to serve as a deterrent to other officers of the army. Tokunbo Obanla, his Orderly, a private, was also found guilty and sentenced to 28 days in prison with hard labor.
The Nigeria military authority had in July ordered Maj. Gen. Adeniyi to be court-martialed, 4(four) months after he was seen in a rare video confessing that Boko Haram terrorists are winning Nigerian troops in the war against insurgents.
Maj. Gen. Adeniyi was leading a large troop of soldiers on a special operation when they were heavily attacked by Boko Haram.
The commander was seen in two of four recorded video clips, giving an update on the security situation, and was reported to Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff.
He blamed the deadly attack his troops suffered on “very wrong intelligence assessment” earlier conducted before they were deployed for the operation.
“Since yesterday we have been met with very strong resistance – from more than pockets of Boko Haram. This morning, from every flank not least than 15 gun trucks were facing us.”
Sources familiar with the released video confirmed to newsmen that the videos were shot after an attack at Gorji, a village in Yobe State, in March this year.
Dozens of soldiers were ambushed and slain in the attack. The military initially said 47 died, but later reviewed the figure downwards.
In the video, the theatre commander was seen amongst troops lamenting that his team suffered a massive loss of men and equipment because it was outgunned by Boko Haram.
Maj. Gen. Adeniyi, who appeared in full war kit, was seen in one of the videos tapping a trooper who was weeping, telling him it was not soldierlike for him to cry because his colleagues were killed.
“I know you were crying because they kill your regular…look at me, that is not the time to cry,” he said, as he kept jerking the shirt of the trooper who was apparently weeping.
In another video, the theatre commander was seen and heard telling the soldiers that “it appears the people we are fighting have more firepower than us…”
He later directed the troops to gather all the bodies of the soldiers that paid the supreme price into available vehicles to quickly move them out of the danger zone.
The commander’s shocking revelation that the troops in the field are not adequately equipped and armed to fight, came amidst claims by the military authority that Boko Haram has been defeated.
Maj. Gen. Adeniyi in the video revealed how he lost several types of equipment and was almost rendered immobile due to a massive attack on troops’ vehicles.
Facing the camera and addressing the Chief of Army staff, the Theater commander said, “Good morning sir, I’m standing here with Sector 2 Commander; the armed helicopter has just come to hover our air, the instruction I gave them was that anything they see moving they should engage because most of my gun trucks are not moving. Like I said earlier, the three battalions are fighting as deployed — nobody is running.
“But what we have here, I will give you some estimates, sir. Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mortar bombs at us; they have fired 80 to a hundred RPGs at us; in addition to eight to 10 gun trucks firing at us from all sides. We have not run, and the soldiers are not misbehaving or disobeying orders.
“We have casualties. I will come and see you in person on what we need to do. But we are not running.”
Maj. Gen. Adeniyi later pointed in the video at some of the MRAP trucks that have been demobilized after Boko Haram gunmen had shot its tires.
“As you can see over that’s one of ours that bullets tore, we lost about 20 MRAP tires here. We have changed close to 250 Hilux tires due to the terrain.
“This is what we are facing in the Timbuktu triangle, sir. We are not running, we are fighting as a system to curtail the situation and achieve your mission, sir.”
Maj. Gen. Adeniyi was removed as commander of Operation Lafiya Dole shortly afterward, with Lt. Gen. Buratai commending him on April 5 for successes recorded in the anti-insurgency war under his leadership.
“Adeniyi came at a point when virtually most of the FOBs were falling and his coming was a turning point in Lafiya Dole’s operation, Mr. Buratai said during a dinner organized in honor of Mr. Adeniyi at the Military’s Command Guests House, in Maiduguri.
“This one; no matter the lapses, no matter the inadequacies and no matter what happened, nobody can take that away from him as part of his successes.
“He came at a time when things were already crumbling and his leadership style turned things around to bring us to where we are today.
“He never led from the rear, he is always in the front. That is the type of leadership that is required and that is an excellent attribute of a field leader. I have always emphasized that you must lead by example.
“So Adeniyi, be rest assured that you have made your mark. You are leaving the Theatre, but you will be required to share the experience you have gathered here. You will be consulted accordingly,” he stated.