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Military chiefs replaced by new Nigerian President amid rise of Boko Haram attacks

Military chiefs replaced by new Nigerian President amid rise of Boko Haram attacks

As attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram spike up, the new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has shaken up the country’s military chiefs.

All service chiefs from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, have been replaced-from the defense, army, navy, air and defense intelligence departments, along with the national security advisor.

This move was aimed at cleaning up the crooked image of the Nigerian army and confronting the 6 year insurgency once and for all. The move which was not unexpected came on the heels of renewed violence across Nigeria and one week before President Buhari travels to White House to discuss fighting the Islamist militant group.

A former military dictator, Buhari was elected during spring on his promises to rejuvenate Nigerian troops and crush Boko Haram. While the replacement of senior officials will not have any immediate impact on the war against the insurgents, it sets the tone for the Buhari’s meeting with the United States President Barack Obama on July 20.

It expected that Buhari will make a request for U.S military aid to fight Boko Haram- an appeal that has been hindered by corruption allegations and abuse against sacked Nigerian officials, experts say.

The U.S certainly wants to partner with Nigeria, but that has been hampered in part by the fact that several key people in the chain of command have been denounced for human rights abuses, whether proven guilty or not” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C “This at least removes one potential stumbling block to greater U.S. assistance in the fight against Boko Haram”- (follow this link for more information).

“All of you, including the national security adviser, were chosen on merit. Your records gave you the job,” Buhari told the new chiefs shortly after their appointments on Monday.

Nigeria’s military, in recent years has come under great criticism by human rights groups. Amnesty International accuses the military of “war crimes” alleging more than 7,000 people have died under military detention. President Buhari said he will investigate the allegations.

The new Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who comes from Borno state in northeast Nigeria, the center of the Boko Haram conflict will perhaps, be the one most closely watched. Previously, he was the commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force, which has its headquarters in neighboring Chad to fight Boko Haram.

Earlier in the year, the Nigerian military launched a major offensive and recaptured a large section of the territory it had lost to Boko Haram. However, in the last 6 weeks, more than 500 people have been killed in attacks across the northeast of the country.

It is still uncertain what new strategy Buhari intends to bring to fight Boko Haram, but he has promised to move the military command center to Maiduguri, the Capital of Borno state- (read more by following this link.

“Nigeria also looks forward to greater support from the United States for the multinational Joint Task Force being mobilized against Boko Haram,” Buhari said in a recent statement on his upcoming trip to Washington.