Bravery

6 May 17, I was privileged to fly on the last chopper that brought back the released Chibok girls. Seeing the girls - young, naive BUT broken, was a reminder of how cruel man is. When we touched down, I stayed with them briefly in the C-130 before the Abuja lap. Image
Military medics began basic checks, deworming them and tending their wounds. There was one particular girl who had lost a leg. She said the Air Force had hit BHT positions & during the strike she lost a leg. I stared at her, wishing it was a dream.
Sitting beside her was another girl - the bravest girl I ever met. For the purpose of this thread, let us call her 'N'. N kept a daily journal of what happened everyday at the BH camp. I snapped as many pages as I could. The girls attested that she was the leader of the pack. ImageImage
Right under Boko Haram's nose, every night, after the terrorists had ordered them for 'lights out', she would organise the girls for prayers & morning devotion the next day. I found myself smiling sheepishly at this. This is faith. This is bravery.
When the medics were done & we were notified that the C-130 would depart for Abuja, N made a signal & all the girls sat up, crossed their legs & bend their heads. N led them in prayers. I would later learn that this was their routine when there was danger or the bombs dropped.
As the C-130 ascended to Abuja to hand them to Mr President, I looked. A pilot who had flown the chopper was sitting on the tarmac, red-eyed.

It took a soldier to talk us to leaving the tarmac that day. We were just heaving like bereaved men.
'Sarkin Yakin Damboa'

The people of Damboa called him Sarkin Yaki (King of War). But Captain MM Hassan was much more. BHT dreaded him to the extent that Shekau placed a 10 million Naira bounty on him. ImageImage
Hassan was tough as a nail. 2 years after his death in 2018, I met a corporal in Gwoza, who drove him for most of his operations. The soldier was smiling all through & he said something that touched me.
'Sarki dey smile everytime. E talk say nothing worth person cry'. Image
He said MM Hassan was the toughest officer he ever knew.

"I happy say I pass through that Oga."

He told me of an incident where Hassan fought through an ambush to rescue him. After then, he never thought Hassan was human until 5 Janary 2018.
On 5 January 2018, MM Hassan died from a detonated grenade in the midst of gunfight with terrorists. May his soul continue to rest in peace.
'041116: My Longest Day Ever'

I remember how excited I was to see Lt Col Abu Ali the first time. He was a Major then. Stories of him sounded like folklore, like war stories brought to life. People talked of his sheer brilliance & sacrifice for his men. ImageImage
So, the first day I met him he actually came from Mallam Fatori to Maiduguri to collect supplies for his unit. Sounds strange. A Major? Coming to the city to take supplies for soldiers? This is not typical of senior officers. It is one task they would delegate.
I was also surprised by his frame. Man was lanky and very quiet. But you saw the fight in him. He embodies the military song, 'Small body, Big Mind'. He didn't talk much.

When he was leaving, after a brief discussion, he breathed, 'We will win'.
In 2015, BHT carried out one of its bloodiest attacks in Baga, killing numbers so much that it was covered up till today. As far as the battlefield is concerned, we would always credit Abu Ali for taking that town back. Image
I woke up to a text on 5 November that the officer was killed in a dawn attack on Mallam Fatori. This was 2 weeks after I encountered him. His men eventually beat back Boko Haram but his death still cuts deep. ImageImage
During his procession, I saw generals cried. The COAS wept. His death rocked the Presidency. He defined patriotism.

May his soul continue to rest in peace. Amen.

'In your words, we will win'. Image
Eyes from Above

I was in Rann in 2016, before the mishap on the IDPs. The Armed Forces maintain strategic outposts to protect the interest of the country. The one in Rann is one of such. Image
Cut off from the country and so close to Cameroon, Rann is a flat land. You could see as your eyes would let you. A company of soldiers stay there, mainly as a buffer.
When I got there, I confessed my fear that it was easy for BHT to overrun us. The CO swore that BHT had never succeeded & would never succeed because of one reason.

'The Airforce. We get eyes for up o.' Image
He talked about how Alpha Jets took out 8 guntrucks in April 2015 when BHT tried attacking them.

"Boko Haram will prefer to see 100 AA guns than to see one of those jets. Anytime I see the jets, I know I am sleeping well that night.' Image
That night, I rekindled my love for tea. I was given lemongrass tea. Damn! I stayed awake all night. When my watch shone 1145pm, I remember the CO pointing to the skies to a distant Beechcraft plane.

"My sleep will be long today'.
Khaki Angels

One set of soldiers I admire are the medics. Highly trained, thoroughly professional, these folks work in your regular city & hardest of grounds. Image
The Air Force established hospitals for IDPs in frontline communities of Dalori & Bama. Over 100k patients are attended to on these facilities. ImageImage
In 2018, I witnessed miracle in Dalori. An Air Force ophthalmologist performed 132 pterygium in a day. One of the women, Iya Kaka, wept when she was discharged days after. It was the first time she would see after 12 years. She couldn't stop praying for the Chief of Air Staff. Image
As we celebrate this year's Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I pray for the safety of all military personnel as they carry on gallantly, doing this job - the most difficult job in the world. God bless you. ImageImageImage

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More from @Google_12point7

9 Jan
July 25, 2017, BHT abducted a team of 9 geologists & support staff conducting soil geochemistry around the Nigerian part of the Chad Basin. Now that the government is ready to kickstart the oil exploration program, the situation in the Lake Chad must not be downplayed.
At different platforms, Mr Timipre Sylva has talked passionately about the oil deposits in the Kolmani River region between Bauchi and Gombe as well as the 'large oil deposits' in the Lake Chad region.
The exploration was suspended after the abduction of 4 NNPC Frontier Services personnel/UNIMAID geologists & the murder of 5 others in 2017 by Boko Haram.
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20 Dec 20
Let me use today to remember a great man & military officer per excellence, one who may still be alive but already forgotten by the country he serves or served with blood & sweat.

1. On 11 September 2014, a NAF Alpha jet with tail number 466 crashed in Kauri.
2. Conducting an air interdiction were two fighter pilots on board the jet - Wing Commander Chimda Hedima and Group Captain Abdulrasheed Braimoh.
3. Boko Haram later released a video of an injured Wing Commander C Hedima on his knees. Before the officer was beheaded, he mentioned that he had not seen his co-pilot Group Captain Braimoh. In the gory clip, Hedima was killed.
Read 12 tweets
9 Dec 20
Before our eyes, our adversaries are evolving, getting smarter while we look on as if our own hands are chained.

Precisely, on 1 December 2020 last week, kidnappers picked an acquaintance along the Lokoja-Okene road.
His family & workmates, unable to reach him on phone that day, concluded he was kidnapped. They immediately contacted the police command in Lokoja & the police affirmed that there were reports of a kidnap along the route that morning.
The next day, around 6pm, kidnappers called the wife of this man and made a demand of 5 million Naira. The man, here, is a civil servant.

Note: kidnappers made a call, with an MTN line.
Read 16 tweets
2 Sep 20
1. Being trying to keep my movement unsuspicious in the last few days with my tweets. But Yours Truely just returned from an independent trip to Monguno. And I can say, things are shaping up but not where we would like it to be.

On arrival, you' ll see the ruins of war.
2. The road was lonely and deserted. My partner, guide & I kept our phones away during this stretch to enable us have a sense of awareness during this part of the journey.
3. Google Map will tell you that Maiduguri-Monguno is 2 hrs 40 mins. But we joined a military convoy and had the real taste of things. We spent 5 hours 22 mins. Most of the time was spent scanning the road for IEDs and clearance drills.
Read 15 tweets
25 Jul 20
If you must do inter-state travel, apply these tips:

1. Schedule it between 9am to 4pm. Don't leave too early and don't be caught in the late hours.

2. Remove titles from your phone contacts. Example: Alhaji, Chief, Inspector and military ranks in general.
3. While driving, focus on the road and ensure that every 5-7 minutes, there is traffic on the returning lane.

4. Try not to exceed 100km per hour so you can make your judgements timely. It will also help you look out for traps and appreciate the terrain.
5. If you can, please don't use tinted sheets on your car. It passes a message to bandits and criminal elements that you are a uniformed man/woman.

6. Major Tip: make sure you always have a spare tyre, plug and fuel pump in your car. Don't ignore this.
Read 5 tweets

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