A military court in Abuja on Monday convicted a former Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Olusegun Adeniyi, who once led the country’s onslaught against Boko Haram.
The report said the tribunal found Adeniyi, a major-general, guilty of violating some sections of the policy on the use of social media for personnel of the armed forces of Nigeria.
The policy was released on June 11, 2018, on the directives of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, a general.
Section 15 (g) of the policy specifically forbids personnel from “posting any video, audio, materials pictures during exercises/operations.”
The court-martial, however, found the major general guilty of producing and publicising a video on the counter-insurgency operation in the North-east in a manner that embarrassed and ridiculed the armed forces of Nigeria.
He was therefore ordered demoted by at least three years. His orderly, Tokunbo Obanla, a private, was also found guilty and sentenced to 28 days in jail with hard labour.
The Nigerian Army had in July ordered Adeniyi to face court-martial, four months after he was seen in a rare video confessing that Nigerian troops were being outgunned by Boko Haram terrorists.
Adeniyi was leading a large troop of soldiers on a special operation when they came under heavy attacks by Boko Haram.
The commander was seen in two of four video clips giving a recorded situation report to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general.
He blamed the deadly attack his troops suffered on “very wrong intelligence assessment” earlier conducted before they deployed.
“Since yesterday we have been met with very strong resistance – from more than pockets of Boko Haram. This morning, from every flank not least than 15 gun trucks were facing us.”
Sources familiar with the released video confirmed to newsmen that the videos were shot after an attack at Gorji, a village in Yobe State, in late March.
Dozens of soldiers were ambushed and killed in the attack. The military initially said 47 died, but later reviewed the figure downwards.
In the video, the theatre commander was seen amongst troops lamenting that his team suffered a massive loss of men and equipment because it was outgunned by Boko Haram.
Adeniyi, who appeared in full combat kit, was seen in one of the videos tapping a trooper who was weeping, telling him it was not soldierlike for him to cry because his colleagues were killed.
“I know you were crying because they kill your regular…look at me, that is not the time to cry,” he said, as he kept jerking the shirt of the trooper who was apparently weeping.
In another video, the theatre commander was seen and heard telling the soldiers that “it appears the people we are fighting have more firepower than us…”
He later directed the troops to gather all the bodies of the soldiers that paid the supreme price into available vehicles in order to quickly move them out of danger zone.
The commander’s shocking revelation that the troops in the field are not adequately equipped and armed to fight, came amidst claims by the military authority that Boko Haram has been defeated.
Adeniyi in the video revealed how he lost several types of equipment and was almost rendered immobile due to a massive attack on troops’ vehicles.
Facing the camera and addressing the Chief of Army staff, the Theater commander said, “Good morning sir, I’m standing here with Sector 2 Commander; the armed helicopter has just come to hover our air, the instruction I gave them was that anything they see moving they should engage because most of my gun trucks are not moving. Like I said earlier, the three battalions are fighting as deployed — nobody is running.
“But what we have here, I will give you some estimates, sir. Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mortar bombs at us; they have fired 80 to a hundred RPGs at us; in addition to eight to 10 gun trucks firing at us from all sides. We have not run, and the soldiers are not misbehaving or disobeying orders.
“We have casualties. I will come and see you in person on what we need to do. But we are not running.”
Adeniyi later pointed in the video at some of the MRAP trucks that have been demobilised after Boko Haram gunmen had shot its tires.
“As you can see over that’s one of ours that bullets tore, we lost about 20 MRAP tires here. We have changed close to 250 Hilux tires due to the terrain.
“This is what we are facing in the Timbuktu triangle, sir. We are not running, we are fighting as a system to curtail the situation and achieve your mission, sir.”
Adeniyi was removed as commander of Operation Lafiya Dole shortly afterwards, with Buratai commending him in on April 5 for successes recorded in the anti-insurgency war under his leadership.
“Adeniyi came at a point when virtually most of the FOBs were falling and his coming was a turning point in Lafiya Dole’s operation, Buratai said during a dinner organised in honour of Adeniyi at the Military’s Command Guess House, in Maiduguri.
“This one; no matter the lapses, no matter the inadequacies and no matter what happened, nobody can take that away from him as part of his successes.
“He came at a time when things were already crumbling and his leadership style turned things around to bring us to where we are today.
“He never led from the rear, he is always in the front. That is the type of leadership that is required and that is an excellent attribute of a field leader. I have always emphasised that you must lead by example.
“So Adeniyi, be rest assured that you have made your mark. You are leaving the Theatre, but you will be required to share the experience you have gathered here. You will be consulted accordingly,” he said.
But four months after the commendations, Adeniyi was directed to proceed to Abuja for trial. He has now been found guilty