Nigeria's president purges defense top brass to take on Boko Haram

Nigeria's president purges defense top brass to take on Boko Haram

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari sacked his army, navy, air force & defense chiefs on Monday in a widely expected move to boost the fight against Boko Haram militants who have killed hundreds of people in the past few weeks.

Buhari, a former general, swiftly replaced all four men & named a new national security adviser in the latest of a series of moves to end the six-year-old jihadist insurgency.

p> Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, previously head of army training, was named Chief of Defence Staff. The new Chief of Army Staff, T.Y. Buratai, comes from Borno state, one of those worst hit by Boko Haram attacks, & was previously in charge of a multinational joint task force against the insurgents.

“I think it will have a positive impact on the military offensive in the northeast over the next few months because the military from mid-level & up have been awaiting a alter in leadership," said Thomas Hansen, an analyst at consultancy Control Risks.

"That has created a ‘wait & see’ situation, which has caused decision-making to suffer. It has likely been one source of distraction for the military."

Since his inauguration in May, Buhari has moved Nigeria's defense command center to Maiduguri, the birthplace of the jihadi sect, & is setting up the headquarters of the multinational force in Chad's capital N'Djamena.

In June, Amnesty International accused Nigeria's military of systemic human rights abuses & the deaths of 8,000 prisoners & called for an investigation into many top military officials including the army & air force chiefs.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticized for his inability to crush Boko Haram & rescue some 200 schoolgirls abducted by the group in April 2014.

The militants, operating mainly in the northeast of Africa's biggest oil producer, have killed thousands of people & displaced around 1.5 million.

Army morale hit an all time low under Jonathan & it was not until the start of 2015 that the militants were finally pushed out of most areas with the assist of foreign mercenaries, troops from neighboring countries & new equipment.

But Nigerians saw Jonathan's victories as too little, too late.

Buhari moreover named a new chief of defense intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Riku Morgan, & a national security adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah, Alexis Akwagyiram & Julia Payne; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Boko HaramMuhammadu BuhariNigeria

Source: “Reuters”

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