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7th Infantry Division

241 Recce Battalion
21 Brigade
22 Brigade
23 Brigade
engineer brigade ?

The 7th Infantry Division was established in August 2013 for the war against Boko Haram. In the months since the creation of the 7th Division, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) has been removed three times. Two instances of mutiny in May 2014 by soldiers of the 7th Division delivered a strong message: the junior officers are willing to be court-martialed, rather than continue to be sabotaged, humiliated and killed by the corruption and incompetence of the military top command and federal government.

After a lull in activity following the declaration in May 2013 of a state of emergency, Boko Haram in August 2013 increased its attacks on police and security forces and civilian targets, including banks, bars, restaurants, religious sites, schools, and government buildings in the North. Shootings and bombings in Maiduguri, Borno State, and the surrounding countryside occurred on a weekly--and sometimes daily--basis, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

The past brutally demonstrated by the Nigerian security forces, as well as the inability of Nigerian security forces to collaborate with one another, prevented their effort from being successful. In far too many cases, the Nigerian Government itself has actually turned local people in the North against its effort to win the terrorist threat. By that ineffectiveness, the Nigerian security forces have pushed Nigerian Christians and Muslims to form their own militias to protect themselves from terrorists and each other. In the long run, this development makes eventual reconciliation of Nigeria’s various religious and ethnic communities even more difficult.

Nigeria’s Joint Task Force (JTF) was tasked with stopping the Boko Haram violence. In the fight against Boko Haram the JTF was originally constituted by personnel from numerous security forces, including the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, the State Security Service, the Nigerian Police, and intelligence units, and was intended to apply a whole-of-government approach to security. Despite its very poor human rights record, one of JTF’s high points was its struggle to win local support for military operations through strategic collaboration with the civilian-JTF, a group of local youth trained to initiate and undertake community self-help surveillance initiatives.

Credible reports indicate uniformed military personnel and paramilitary mobile police carried out summary executions, assaults, torture, and other abuses throughout Borno, Kano, and Yobe states under the auspices of the Joint Task Force Restore Order (JTF-RO), which was disbanded in August. In August the Nigerian Army’s Seventh Division replaced JTF-RO as the umbrella command for the northeastern security operations, although many of the commanders and units remained the same. The Seventh Division continued to be referred to as JTF or JTF-RO in press and other reports for much of 2013.

During 2013 security forces under the command of JTF-RO, the army’s Seventh Division, and other commands committed numerous killings. The government claimed JTF-RO members faced disciplinary charges for human rights violations, but none was verified. According to eyewitnesses, press reports, and civil society reports, JTF-RO personnel allegedly committed numerous killings in Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe states, often after attacks by Boko Haram.

According to press and NGO reports, JTF-RO illegally detained and killed suspected members of Boko Haram in the Giwa barracks military facility in Maiduguri, Borno, and Sector Alpha and the Presidential Lodge facilities in Damaturu, Yobe. Former detainees alleged that torture and mistreatment by security forces led to the death of detainees in some cases. Authorities publicly denied the claims, describing them as inaccurate or unbalanced.

On 16 April 2013, witnesses in the town of Baga, Borno State, claimed Boko Haram shot and killed a soldier with the Multinational Joint Task Force, composed of soldiers from Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. In response Nigerian army members of the task force shot indiscriminately at individuals and animals and destroyed homes and property. The chief of defense staff and the police claimed that approximately 36 persons were killed, but Senator Maina Maaji Lawan, who represents Baga in the National Assembly, claimed based on his own field visit to Baga that up to 228 persons may have been killed. In addition reports varied on the extent of property damaged in the incident. Senator Lawan estimated the soldiers destroyed up to 4,000 homes, mostly by fire. HRW reported its analysis of geospatial images of the area affected showed at least 2,275 homes destroyed and another 125 severely damaged. The Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency disputed HRW’s estimate.

The 7th Infantry Division was established in August 2013 for the war against Boko Haram. The creation of the new division brought to six the Army divisions in the country. The Nigerian Army already had 1st Division with headquarters in Kaduna, 2nd Division with headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, 3rd Armoured Division with headquarters in Lagos, 81 Division with headquarters in Lagos and 82 Division with headquarters in Enugu.

The 900 troops that recently returned from an operation in Mali formed the nucleus of the new division. Already, there was 23 Brigade in Yola, Adamawa State, 21 Brigade in Maiduguri and 22 Brigade in Ilorin, all armoured brigades which would form the new 7th Division of the Nigerian Army. Only a battalion, known as 241 Reece Battalion, is in Yobe, and this may latter graduate to a new brigade as the new division settles down. A part of the new 7th Division was under 1st Division with headquarters in Kaduna and 3rd Armoured Division with headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.

The 7th Division is headquartered in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The 7th Division barracks is the biggest in the cantonment in Maiduguri. The barracks accommodates, the 7th Infantry Division, the Artillery, Ordinance, Engineering, Signal and other corps. Boko Haram initially attacked mostly security forces and government officials when they launched their uprising in Borno state’s capital Maiduguri in 2009. The massive deployment of men and material through the establishment of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri was intended to stem the tide of attacks by insurgents in the North East.

A new General Officer Commanding (GOC) was appointed and assumed duty in Maiduguri 19 August 2013. The new GOC is Major General Obida Ethnan, who was Commander, Army Garrison Headquarters, Abuja. The creation of the new division, which brought to seven the Army divisions in the country, would further boost the presence of the military in that region, as the activities of the terrorists group seemed not to be abating.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who approved the new division, was very confident that it would prevent the insurgents from further entering the area, since the borders there had become very porous, due to the desertification of the North-East region. The new division would cover Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, which were regarded as the domain of the Boko Haram Islamist sect.

The establishment of the new division became imperative, since the Joint Task Force (JTF) battling the insurgent in the North-East is an ad hoc arrangement, which could be disbanded any moment. The Federal Government believed that with adequate presence of the military in that region, the insurgent group will think twice before launching any attack in the zone.

By November 2013 troops of the 7th Division had intensified patrols deeply inside the forest areas of Damboa and Gwoza local government area in order to reach remote and isolated towns as well as villages with a view to preventing further incessant attacks by the insurgents.

S/NRank Name Appt Period
1.Maj Gen OT Ethan GOC 22 Aug 13 - 01 Jan 14
2. Maj Gen JS Bindawa GOC 01 Jan - 24 Feb 14
3. Maj Gen A Mohammed GOC 24 Feb 14 - 16 May 14
4. Brig Gen MY Ibrahim acting GOC 16 May 14-to date
In the months since the creation of the 7th Division the General Officer Commanding (GOC) has been removed three times. Major-General Obida Ethan was the pioneer GOC, but was replaced by Major-General Unsaid Bindawa, shortly before the retirement of Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika in January this year. Bindawa was retained by Minimah after the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) assumed office but was subsequently removed and replaced by Mohammed on 07 February 2014. Since assuming office, Mohammed had been confronted with two mutinies, necessitating his removal.

The sabotage of the Nigerian army in operations, logistics and equipment has been brought to the fore by the increased superior public displays of capacity and morale of the Boko Haram rag-tag army. Nigeria is unable to provide its soldiers involved in one of the most asymmetrical and deadly insurgencies in recent African history with the necessary hardware, tools for obtaining actionable intelligence and even food and accommodation to successfully engage the enemy. Whereas Boko Haram have ordinary modern equipment like night vision goggles, Nigeria’s State army lacks these necessary tools.

Mutiny is a very grievous military occurrence. Two instances of deliberate mutiny by Nigeria’s soldiers of the 7th Division delivers a strong message: the junior officers are willing to be court-martialed, rather than continue to be sabotaged, humiliated and killed by the corruption and incompetence of the military top command and federal government.

Unhappy soldiers from the newly formed 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in the early hours of 14 May 2014 revolted against their General Officer Commanding, Major General Abubakar Mohammed, shooting sporadically in the Maimalari barracks, which is also home to the Artillery Corps, the Ordinance, as well as army signals in Maiduguri.

Emotions ran high when they saw the bodies of their colleagues ambushed and killed by Boko Haram men in Chibok, Borno state. The angry soldiers immediately started shooting into the air, complaining that their superior have failed to provide them with adequate weaponry with which to fight the war against the better-armed Boko Haram militants.

“We the soldiers don’t have the kind of arms and ammunition that [Boko Haram] fighters have. So everyday, they kill our men anyhow, but it is never published in the media,” said one source. The other source also complained that the commanding officers “are too busy ‘eating’ money. And they do not pay our allowances on time. And once [a soldier dies], nobody knows what happens to his allowances again.”

General Mohammed was immediately whisked out of the barracks to an unknown destination. Maj. Gen. Mohammed escaped unhurt, but has since been redeployed. The soldiers blamed him for the deaths of at least four of their colleagues killed near Chibok, a remote community in Borno State where over 250 girls were taken captives April 14. But military insiders said Mohammed was targeted for daring to arrest the growing indiscipline within his troop.

Brigadier General M.Y. Ibrahim, the newly posted General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army located at Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri got a taste of soldiers’ fury on 21 May 2014 as angry soldiers stormed his office to demand that he pay their allowances and reinstate motorbikes to transport them and members of their families within the barrack. The soldiers’ second act of mutiny in two weeks began around 3:00 p.m. (Nigerian time). The angry soldiers blew a whistle, and most of the rank and file gathered at a spot before they marched en masse to the 7th Division headquarters building where the GOC’s office is located.

The protesting soldiers decided to give him a dose of the experience of navigating within the barracks without motorcycles. They ordered the Major General to come outside the building, pushing and shoving him. Then they forced him to trek all through the barracks.

Nigeria’s Special Forces from the Army’s 7th Division have sighted and narrowed the search for the more than 250 abducted Chibok schoolgirls to three camps operated by the extremist Boko Haram sect north of Kukawa at the western corridors of the Lake Chad, senior military and administration officials have said 21 May 2014. “It has been a most difficult but heroic breakthrough,” one senior military official said in Abuja.

That claim was supported by another senior commander from the Army’s 7th Division, the military formation created to deal with the insurgency in the Northeast.The breakthrough came at a critical moment for the Nigerian military that faced cutting criticism over its handling of the kidnapping of the girls more than a month ago.

The news was also key for the Maiduguri-based 7th Division a week after a humiliating mutiny by troops of its 101 battalion who fired at the General Officer Commanding the division, Ahmadu Mohammed, a Major General.

Nigerian military officials coordinating the search and other officials in Abuja said Boko Haram insurgents split the girls into batches and held them at their camps in Madayi, Dogon Chuku and Meri, all around the Sector 3 operational division of the Nigerian military detachment confronting the group’s deadly campaign. Notwithstanding the sighting, the government is said not to be considering the use of force against the extremists, a choice informed by concerns for the safety of the students.

Another source said there is a fourth camp at Kangarwa, also in Borno State. That claim could not be independently verified. “Our team first sighted the girls on April 26 and we have been following their movement with the terrorists ever since,” one of our sources said.

Telephone signals that were probably meant for the dreaded Islamic militants, Boko Haram, had been tracked to neighboring Niger, suggesting they may have been directed from there, a top Military officer attached to the 7th Division of the Nigeria Army in Maiduguri, Borno State said 26 May 2014.

On 09 August 2014 wives of soldiers in the 21st Armored Bridagde blockaded a barracks to prevent their husbands from being deployed to Gwoza. The women blocked the gates of the barracks preventing the soldiers’ departure. They said the Nigerian military was providing insufficient and archaic weapons for the soldiers to fight terrorists who had sophisticated and adequate weapons.

Nigerian soldiers defied orders to launch an operation against Boko Haram militants because the soldiers were not adequately armed. The incident happened Saturday 17 August 2014, when soldiers with Nigeria's 21st Armored Brigade were told to advance toward Gwoza and Daiwa, two parts of Borno state where the militants are active. The group refused orders when they were told to move ahead without two armored personnel carriers that were initially assigned to the operation. Nigerian defense spokesman Chris Olukolade said he did not know about the incident but denied reports of a mutiny, saying, "Our soldiers are too disciplined and patriotic to indulge in this dangerous offense."

A former military governor of Kaduna State, Abubakar Umar, condemned the series of mutiny carried out by Nigerian soldiers. Umar, a retired colonel, said there was a need to address the trend of unprofessionalism in the military. He blamed the spate of mutiny on dubious methods of recruitment. “There is the need to stem this tide by addressing the causal factors of this unprofessional conduct. And these factors range from: one, the dubious recruitment method”. Umar listed poor training, inadequate and substandard equipment and lack of motivation as reasons for mutiny. He said it is wrong for soldiers to do jobs meant for the police, describing it as “civilianisation”. “For example, soldiers being deployed on purely police duty e.g. checkpoints at which they are seen soliciting and receiving bribe, such soldiers cannot be expected to fight in a war,” he said.

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