For putting up very outstanding performances in the theatre of war, the Sector 2 of the Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole in Yobe State, rewarded some of its personnel last weekend.
The special recognition to the soldiers came at the event of the Nigerian Army Social Activities (NASA) which is a Nigerian version of the West African Army Social Activities otherwise referred to as WASA staged by the Commander Sector II of Operation Lafiya Dole, Suleiman Idris.
PREMIUM TIMES checks revealed that this is the first time the activities were held in the theater in Damaturu during the almost ten years of the Boko Haram insurgency.
While the event was garnished with cultural and social activities by the troops that prompted guests to jerk from their seats for intermittent laughter and amusements, the occasion took a frenzied moment as the master of ceremony took a roll call of soldiers identified for special recognition. Guests became spellbound with emotions as these select soldiers took turns to take salute and collect awards from the commander and representative of the governor, Mai Buni, at the event.
At the beginning, the awards appeared to be a normal exercise until the Acting Director of Army Public Relation of Sector II of Operation Lafiya Dole, Polycarp Oteh, began to read their citation and the acts of gallantry that qualified them for the special recognition.
Sergeant Major Mustapha Abubakar won the Best Soldier 2019 of 233 Battalion after he successfully coordinated radio communications to troops to defeat Boko Haram on December 22, 2019 despite very high volume of fire. His citation reads:
"15NA/74/4099 Sigm Mustapha Abubakar was born on 13 December, 1991 into the family of Mr. and Mrs Abubakar Sadiq from Adamawa State. He was enlisted into the Nigerian Army on the 13 December, 2015. He was taken on strength in Sector 2 Mobile Strike Team 5 on 13 November, 2017. Sigm Mustapha has shown remarkable contribution to the fight against insurgency in Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre within Sector 2 AOR. As a radio operator, he (always) ensures seamless communications within the formations/units under command.
"Mustapha displayed act of bravery during the attack on Damaturu by Boko Haram on the 22, December 2019. Mustapha, amidst high volume of fire, confidently moved ammunitions to resupply troops in the frontline and thus the BHT were defeated.
"Furthermore, he exhibited act of doggedness by advancing on the foot in hot pursuit of the fleeing BHTs during the counter-ambush operation at Jakana on the 26 of January, 2020 in which 2x Gun trucks and 2x AA guns were captured. Sigm Mustapha has shown a high level of discipline in the discharge of his duties.
"It is worthy to note that Sigm Mustapha is a disciplined hardworking soldier who is ready to carry out any task given to him diligently. He is hereby recommended by this Brigade for the gallantry award".
Corporal Yusuf Umar bagged the award for the best non-commissioned officer due to his doggedness as a driver after being shot severally by Boko Haram in an ambush. With his gallantry and courage, he never yielded to the fire power and drove through the ambush to a safer location with very high controlled military items. He still nurses gunshot wounds from the encounter and could not make it to the event. His award was presented (to) his friend. Below is his citation.
"Cpl Yusuf Umar of the sector 2 standby force was detailed as a driver of the 5-ton truck conveying military controlled items in a convoy on the 6 September, 2019. During the movement, the convoy came under Boko Haram attack and the troops fought through the ambush gallantly and defeated the Boko Haram Terrorist. Cpl Yusuf was shot several times while driving the truck but he continued driving from the ambush site until they reached their destination.
"Cpl Yusuf never yielded to the pain/pressure occasioned by the gunshot wound he sustained on his leg. He exhibited a high level of courage and act of gallantry by moving the items to a safer place and was rescued by troops.
"Cpl Yusuf is currently on out-patient treatment. To receive the award on behalf of cpl Yusuf is Cpl Adamu Audu".
Leadership, Professionalism, patriotism and dedication coupled with courage is the embodiment of Sergeant Musa Ibrahim. His courage manifested during a Boko Haram attack on Damaturu where he tacitly moved from trenches supplying ammunition to troops and boosting their moral as the Platoon Sergeant of the QRF Unit in Damaturu. His citation below reveals his act of gallantry.
"Sgt. Musa Ibrahim was born on 6 Jun 1982. He hails from Kachia Local Government in Kaduna State. he attended Army Primary School Kano and later proceeded to Army Day Secondary School Janguza Kano. He was enlisted into the NA on 19 August 2002 and posted to 21 Brigade Garrison on completion of his training. He was deployed to 233 Battalion and was inducted into operation Lafiya Dole on 4 February 2013. Musa was deployed as the Platoon Sergeant of the Unit's Quick Response Force(QRF) at the Battalion Headquarters.
"Srgt. Ibrahim Musa regularly ensured training of soldiers of the unit's QRF while instilling (a) fighting spirit in his subordinates. This came to the fore during encounter with BHTs where he fought gallantly as the PL Srgt of the Unit's QRF. On 22 Dec 2019, Srgt Musa demonstrated high level of courage when Damaturu came under BHTs/ISWAP attack.
"He was observed moving from one trench to the other encouraging and motivating his colleagues thus boosting their morale. This motivation contributed (to) the success recorded during the meeting engagement with the terrorist where more than 30 of the terrorists were neutralized and the capturing of BHTs 1x Gun truck and cache of assorted ammunition.
"His hard work and courage is in keeping with the standard of professionalism in the Nigeria Army as well as patriotism of an exemplary citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria".
"Idris Buba remains one of the finest vigilante fighters with his dedication and commitment in the fight earning him the promotion of the commander of vigilante group in Damaturu. He also emerged as the best vigilante for the year 2019 having bursted and arrested several gangs including kidnap kingpin within the state. Below is his citation.
"Idris Buba was born in the year 1985. HE HAILS FROM Askira Uba IN Borno state. Idris JOINED Yobe state Hunters Group popularly known as Sarkin Baka in the year 2014. He has since then participated in several operations within sector 2 Operation Lafiya Dole AOR. Following his brevity, Idris was subsequently promoted and appointed the commander of Sakin baka Damaturu in 2015.
"Since his appointment as the commander, he has carried out several operations with his men and in conjunction with 233 Bn and 27 TF Bde respectively. In January 2019, Idris led his men to Chirokusko general area of Tarmuwa LGA where he arrested a kidnap kingpin and recovered 1x AK 47 rifle, 2 x den guns, 2 x loaded magazines with extra 44 rounds of 7.62mm(special) ammunition. Idris led another operation in May 2019 where his group neutralized 2 x cattle rustlers, captured 2 suspects alive, recovered 206 rustled cattle, 1 x magazine and 1 x locally made pistol.
"Similarly his group participated in meeting engagements against BHTs/ISWAPs attack in Damaturu on 22 Dec 2019 which led to the neutralization of many terrorists and recovery of 1 x GT with cache of assorted ammunition. In January 2020, Idris also led his men to the arrest of 5 x kidnapers terrorizing the general area of Jajere.
"These performances exhibited by his group has demonstrated his good leadership. Thus Idris is highly commendable for Command Sector 2 gallantry award."
Some of the awardees who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES praised the commander for staging the event and recognising them for their contribution in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Idris Buba, who bagged the Best Vigilante Award, said he was humbled by the award. He said it has thrown a new challenge for him to realise that he is being watched on the things he does in the theatre.
"This award is a clear demonstration that whatever you are doing people are watching you. If I were doing things contrary to the work that I chose to do, the story would have been a different one. But look at me today collecting this award. It challenges me to think that the little contribution we are doing is being recognized. This will make me and my people to do more. I dedicate this award to all our members both living and dead," Mr Buba said.
Another soldier who described the event as "a good avenue to unwind stress", said "we need these kinds of activities in the theatre once in a while."
At the end, the soldiers ate, drank, danced and jubilated.