Nigeria to Lead Offensive Against Boko Haram

Nigeria to Lead Offensive  Against Boko HaramNigeria to Lead Offensive  Against Boko Haram

Nigeria and its neighbors agreed on Thursday that  Abuja would lead a new regional military force to counter Boko Haram, a fresh sign of President Muhammadu Buhari’s intent to crush the militant group.

The new force will be headed by a Nigerian commander, the five-nation coalition agreed, after Buhari rejected calls for a rotating command between the partners, arguing that a changing leadership could hamper the counter-insurgency effort.

A final communique following talks in Abuja on the remit of the new 8,700-strong force backed Buhari’s call for a Nigerian military chief to control operations, France24 reported.

Cameroon will take the No. 2 role of “deputy first commander” for an initial 12 months while a Chadian will be appointed chief of staff for the first year, the statement said.

“National contingents” of troops for the Multi-National Joint Task Force from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin should be deployed by July 30, it added.

Boko Haram extremists reportedly burned down six northeast Nigerian villages and killed 37 people near the insurgents’ Sambisa Forest stronghold, a survivor said Friday.

Ahmed Ajimi, a fighter in the anti-Boko Haram Nigerian Vigilante Group, said many victims of Wednesday night’s attacks were farmers who had recently returned home after soldiers earlier this year forced the extremists out of the area where they had declared a caliphate.

Ajimi said he spent the night in the bush and returned on Thursday to help bury 37 corpses.