Salkida: Why attempts to water down the impact of Nigerian troops’ devastation of Boko Haram has failed
By Lawrence Audu
Ahmad Salkida, the Nigerian journalist with direct access to Boko Haram who at a time fell out with the group and had to go on self-exile, lives in a hole. And like every rodent that habituates in cracked spaces, the unsafe nature of such habitation makes him act on impulse.
He oscillates between two extremes in words and deeds that make both his views and actions suspect and at the same time puerile as they are borne out of desperation to keep afloat. In some instances, he deserves pity, though. However, his insistence to be in the public glare prohibits such emotion.
Before his self-imposed exile, Salkida was known to have untrammelled access to top Boko Haram commanders including their leader, Abubakar Shekau, which he uses, from time to time for his benefit.
In August 2016, the Nigerian Army, realising there is more than meets the eye regarding Salkida contacts with the terrorists, relying on the terrorism prevention Act 2011 (as amended), where Nigerians could be punished for failure to disclose information about terrorists or terrorist activities, declared him with two others wanted. They were suspected to be “in possession of information on the conditionns and the exact location of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, in 2014.”
Shortly after that, Salkida resurfaced and humbly began to desist from overhyping himself as the alter ego of the terrorists leader, slowly distancing himself from them.
But this year, he overdid himself when he released reports which embarrassed the sect and particularly their leader. In the audio tape, the Boko Haram kingpin was crying and confessing to the superior fire power of the Nigerian military.
Salkida, through his online publication, HumAngle, also revealed how it is possible that the Nigerian Army had killed more number of terrorists than the number it disclosed to the public. HumAngle in its report said many of the terrorists were felled in villages around the Sambisa forest which the military did not count.
Shortly after that exposé, the Boko Haram leader threatened to deal with Salkida and since then, obviously frightened by the threat, the manipulative journalist has reverted to factory setting, doing only the bidding of Shekau.
Like a rat that lives in a hole, he has run to other side of the extreme to avoid the threat coming from the opposite direction.
And between when the threat was made and now, all the reports from HumAngle about terrorists activities in Nigeria and confrontation with the military have been to massage the ego of the megalomaniac leader of the Boko Haram.
The height of such turn coat tactic was the latest story which tried to undermine the gains recorded by the Nigerian military since the Chief of Army staff, General T.Y Buratai relocated to the Northeast.
The HumAngle reports claims that of the over 1,600 terrorists killed between April and now, over 60 percent of the fatalities were due to the intervention by foreign forces and not Nigeria.
The report added that nearly 1,600 insurgents killed during the period, 65.7 per cent lost their lives during battles with soldiers in Chadian and Cameroonian territories, not Nigeria. It also said that when the additional figures are removed, only a total of 591 fatalities were recorded by the insurgent groups directly from attacks by Nigerian troops.
However, Salkida, characteristically, contradicts himself and cannot confuse the discerning.
The total number of militants killed by Nigerian troops between April and now stands at over 1,500 even without including the number said not to have been counted around the Sambisa forest.
The figure claimed to have been killed by Chadian forces whether in hundreds or thousands has never been claimed by any report of military onslaught on the terrorists in Nigeria.
The HumAngle was also being clever by half when it denied its own report that the military under reported the rate of casualty and is not clear however if Salkida included that number in the figure he claims to have been killed by Nigerian troops.
But the facts speak for themselves.
When HumAngle reported that Shekau was heard in an audio begging for mercy due to the damage on his fighting men, he forgot that Shekau did not deny that he wept but only claimed as an afterthought that the audio was done some five years ago.
Fact Check, however, revealed that there was no such pounding of the Boko Haram during the Ramadan period of 2015. The type of ululation heard in that video could not have been made by Shekau if the damage had been less.
The fact remains that since Lt. Gen. TY Buratai moved to the theatre of war in Borno State, the Nigerian military has been exemplary in performance to the acknowledgement of all including die-hard cynics.
Within the period, no less than 1500 of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists have been liquidated by Nigerian troops while many have been seriously wounded or arrested.
Hundreds of terrorists have been killed in operations in Kwalaram, Nilewa, Sabon Tumbu, Bukarmairam, Wulgo in the Marte and Gamboru Ngala and in Gorgi, Damboa local government and in Buni Gari all in Borno State.
The Nigerian military has also overran the camps of the terrorists in Durfada, Allafha, Timbuktu, Bulajibi and Gonikurmi near the Sambisa forest.
This was what led to surrender of the 11 of the ISWAP members.
The Nigerian military also repelled attacks on Maiduguri twice and in Damboa, Banki, and Madagali and other places with heavy casualties on the side of the insurgents.
These have been made possible through careful planning and superior strategy by the military.
It was not for nothing that Buratai moved to the Northeast as his presence ensured that he engages troops directly by getting direct feedback from them.
His strategy of moving reinforcement while troops are pressing hard against the insurgents has also produced enormous results.
On top of that, the military has acquired more sophisticated weapons. The army for instance has obtained 17 military vehicles consisting of VT-4 main battle tanks and two types of self-propelled howitzer from China consisting of VT-4 main battle tanks and two types of self-propelled howitzers.
The combination of all these has made it possible for the Nigerian military to defeat Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists lately, and no fear-induced or eager- to-please pro- terrorists reports can take that away.
Audu is an Abuja-based journalist