According to Peoples Gazette, Buratai lamented a slack in personnel performance that had prolonged the war.
An internal army correspondence seen by the newspaper, titled: “COAS Special Order-01 Change to War Mode,” also directed soldiers deployed in ‘Operation Lafiya Doleé a special anti-terrorism combat squad to treat all individuals in the troubled region as Boko Haram suspects until properly identified.
“All persons must be treated as suspects unless fully identified and cleared especially in isolated, high threat areas, when on clearance operations and check point duties.
“We are not in peacekeeping operations, internal security operations or deterrence actions. This is real war fighting,” the November 20, 2020, directive said.
OPLD Theatre Commander, Farouq Yahaya, also conveyed a follow-up from Buratai to the soldiers, directing them to “quickly identify” and “immediately neutralise” all confirmed terrorist elements.
Rights activist, Emeka Umeagbalasi, worries that the new methodology deployed by Chief of Army Staff portends grave consequences for human rights.
“If that directive is implemented, we are going to witness human rights abuses on an industrial scale,” Umeagbalasi told Peoples Gazette.
“The Nigerian Army’s counter-insurgency operations should be done within the confines of international best practices. Superior intelligence and crime detection must be applied considering Boko Haram’s asymmetrical style of operations in the North-East can’t be labeled as terrorists,” he added.
Military authorities had repeatedly assure since 2015 that the decade-long war against insurgency had been won, and the Nigerian Army was merely executing a mop up operation to extinguish remnants of Boko Haram in the North-East.