Nigeria: Death of famed officer stokes sabotage fears

Specter of possible sabotage lurks behind death of Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali in Boko Haram ambush

Nigeria: Death of famed officer stokes sabotage fears

World Bulletin / News Desk

Nigeria on Monday buried seven military personnel who died in a Boko Haram ambush over the weekend, with President Muhammadu Buhari saying the incident has refocused the country’s attention on the "sacrifices of our compatriots," and analysts warning of sabotage having enabled the ambush.

"It is therefore our resolve that the labors of our heroes shall never be in vain," Buhari said in a speech for the funeral at the national cemetery in the capital Abuja, as read out by his Chief of Staff Abba Kyari.

The funeral was attended by the country's army chief Tukur Buratai, who hailed the soldiers’ heroism, especially Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali, who was killed in a surprise Boko Haram ambush in the town of Malam Fatori in northeast Nigeria.

"Sarkin Yaki, or the front-line general, you shall forever be in our memories," the army chief said about the slain colonel, whose exceptional performance had earned him a double promotion last year. Abu Ali is credited with liberating several of the towns from Boko Haram militants in the region.

As Nigerians mourned the slain soldiers and information emerged about how they were ambushed, analysts have raised fresh questions about sabotage within the army and leaks of troops' movement to the enemy.

On Oct. 25, army spokesman Sani Usman announced the arrest of over a dozen people for sabotaging counter-insurgency operations, including soldiers and policemen.

- Deep infiltration?

But some security analysts say the infiltration or sabotage probably runs deeper than authorities suspect.

"Concerns over infiltration of the military by Boko Haram features in top military leadership circles but the capacity to proactively identify and neutralize these moles remain weak," Freedom Onuoha, a security analyst who has followed the Boko Haram crisis, told Anadolu Agency.

Onuoha recalled former President Goodluck Jonathan admitting that the militant group had infiltrated the top echelons of his administration.

"There is a need for a comprehensive inquest into the extent of Boko Haram connections with not just the military but the security agencies and political organizations," he added.

"For the military, comprehensive profiling of its officers and soldiers needs to be urgently carried out in collaboration with other security agencies, particularly the Department of State Services," he said.

The anonymous proprietor of Beageagles, the biggest defense and security blog in sub-Saharan Africa, told Anadolu Agency the death of the officer and his colleagues "lends further credence" to claims of sabotage within the security forces.

"That is assuming that the presumed circumstances under which the colonel died are confirmed to be true. There is still a stack overflow of information pertaining to the matter," he told Anadolu Agency.

Ali and his men were said to have been ambushed shortly after some troops of his 119 battalion were withdrawn from the battlefield.

"It would require a proper vetting process led by military intelligence to give effect to that via thorough background checks," said the blogger.

Last Mod: 08 Kasım 2016, 00:19
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