Boko Haram: Nigerian Army sacks brave officer Suleiman via text message

Colonel-Auwal-Suleman

Colonel Auwal Suleiman

The Nigerian Army has thrown out Colonel Auwal Suleiman, the mastermind of the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), which has played a pivotal role since the Boko Haram war started in 2009.

Suleiman also coordinated the arrest of 377 Boko Haram terrorists.

But in a show of ingratitude, the military authorities compulsorily retired him, along with 37 others in June 2016.

He had no query or indictment for any offence, before he was peremptorily sacked.

Auwal Suleiman was on strategic military posting as Defence Attaché in the Chad Republic when he got a text message of his retirement.

He was not the only brave officer notably sacked by the army. Also sacked was Lt Colonel Mohammed Abdulfatai, who led his battalion to neutralise over 200 Boko Haram terrorists in Konduga in 2014.

The military authorities have refused to reinstate the officers, despite winning court battles to upturn their retirement.

Like in Abdulfatai’s case, Justice Sanusi Kado of the National Industrial Court Abuja in a judgment in February 2020, ordered the Nigerian Army Council to immediately reinstate Colonel Suleman to the position he was in 2016 when the purported compulsory retirement was carried out.

Justice Kado rejected the claim that the Army Officer was compulsorily retired from the Army on account of an overstay of 18 years in the service, adding that there was no evidence to the falsehood adduced to justify the unlawful act of the army.

PRNigeria reported that before his compulsory retirement, Suleiman was a resourceful intelligence officer who led many successful operations against Boko Haram elements, including the arrest of their commanders.

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The Nigerian military and intelligence services had on a number of occasions relied on Suleman’s bravery and tactical savvy in their countering terrorism operations.

A military intelligence officer told PRNigeria that Suleiman’s appointment as Deputy Chief of Operations to the United Nations Mission in Darfur and as Deputy Defence Adviser to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington in 2011 and 2012 respectively were abruptly cancelled as he was key to Nigeria’s counter-terrorism operations in the North East.

“It may interest you to note that Colonel Suleiman midwifed the idea of using local vigilantes and hunters in tackling the ravaging Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East which gave birth to popular Civilian JTF in Borno State.

“He led a joint intelligence task force comprising other security agencies in uncovering of secret cells of the Boko Haram insurgents in many cities of Northern Nigeria. His prowess as a spy, he played a major role in discovering a Boko Haram cell within the Presidential Villa Abuja before the terrorists could cause harm to the seat of power as the culprits were subsequently rounded up.

“The mastermind of the planned attack on Aso Rock was a police sergeant, identified as Babagana who was arrested.

Colonel Suleman was also key to the arrests of prosecutions of Boko Haram pioneer spokesman, Umar Sanda Konduga and Chadian terrorists’ gunrunner, Bana Fannaye among others.

“Even while he was at Command and Staff College, Jaji, as directing staff, he was recalled helping track ‘a globally and the United States declared wanted terrorist, Adam Kambar.

“Aside from operational risks and several ambushes leading to gunshot his left leg, Col Suleiman escaped assassination attempts in Bauchi and Borno through several improvised explosive device attacks and suicide bombers,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.

A member of NDA 42 Regular Combatant course who was commissioned in September 1995, Suleiman was promoted to the rank of Colonel on August 17, 2013, bagging the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Award as well as the national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).