Nigeria and Chad were whiskers away from an all out war that would have engulfed the entire region.
As soon as Nigeria began to make a lot of gains in the war against Boko Haram, owing to the efforts of the militar Chadian strongman, Idris Derby approached the Nigerian government and called for a cease-fire, asking that it mediates between the parties in the conflict.
The Chadian strongman claimed Boko Haram representatives reached out to him and requested he mediate a cease-fire deal with the Nigerian army, and demanded $25 million dollars for his service. The Nigerian government was trying to verify the authenticity of Boko Haram’s representatives in the supposed negotiations, but Déby asked the Nigerian government to take a chance that he had done the verification already. He affirmed that Boko Haram’s representatives were truly standing in for the group in the negotiations.
President Jonathan then appointed his principal secretary, Hassan Tukur, to be part of the negotiations in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. Following the announcement of ceasefire by Boko Haram, the Nigerian government equally announced a ceasefire for the supposed negotiations to continue.
A Nigerian delegation left for Chad for talks with Boko Haram, but the Chadian president became evasive. The Nigerian delegation was told that Déby was sick and that the meeting be rescheduled for October 23.
However, on that date, the delegation was told that the Chadian president was still sick after waiting for six hours. The delegation made visits to Chad a number of times, but met a brickwall.
The period of the phantom negotiations gave the terror group time to regroup, reinforce and restrategise, which was the intent of Déby for asking the Nigerian government to negotiate a ceasefire with Boko Haram.
As Boko Haram’s resumed attacks grew in intensity, the Nigerian government became worried. Many attempts were made to inquire from the Chadian president who was supposed to be mediating between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, but the attempts were all futile.
France was privy to the botched negotiations, but said nothing just like the Chadian government.
It became clear to the Nigerian government that Déby was working for Boko Haram. The government of Chad maintained strict radio silence with the Nigerian government as Boko Haram’s resumed onslaughts. It had simply refused to make any comment or communicate with the Nigerian government.
At this point the Nigerian government also ceased to speak with the Chadian government on the matter since it is now clear that Chad is working with Boko Haram.
The personal aid to Chadian President Mr. Baharat Gnoti was arrested on the Chadian-Sudan border with 19 SAM2 missiles he purchased from the Sudanese army meant for the Boko Haram terrorist network in northeastern Nigeria.
Mr. Gnoti who claimed that President Idriss Déby gave him the funds to purchase the weapons, had waved a presidential pass issued to him by Mr. Deby’s office in order to get past border guards but was stopped and searched by the guards who found the deadly weapons on him.
The arrest of Mr. Gnoti was solid evidence that the Chadian president is largely behind the Boko Haram lightning insurgency in Nigeria’s northwest.
This coming just seven months after Mr. Derby recently swindled the Nigerian government out of $25 million in his fake cease-fire deal was more than the Nigerian military could ignore.
With this development the President summoned his Service Chiefs for a high-level security meetings at the State House to plan a Nigerian response. The DSS called for a firm response by hitting selected targets in Chadian territory using the Boko Haram insurgency as a pretext.
The army and air force chief however said France and Chad could join forces against Nigeria if a war with Boko Haram turns into a wider conflict. Not responding was not an option, but the timing had to be strategic. The fact that the country is surrounded by a massive amount of U.S. bases in what is termed by the military as a ‘perfect noose’ made a secrete mobilization of forces impossible.
“The majority of U.S. and French surveillnce drones are now deployed to the region. They are expecting a response. Let’s not give them one.” the Director General quipped.
An intelligence report also revealed that 40 percent of arms and other war material used by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, are French-made. The report also stated that the bulk of Boko Haram fighters are Chadian nationals.
When Nigeria showed interest in buying surplus Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters that were phased out of service by the Israeli air force in 2013, as well as an Israeli-produced unmanned air systems, it rang alarm bells.
The French government, troubled by Nigeria’s silence in the face of Chadian complicity in the death of over 29,000 Nigerians at the hands of Boko Haram had been keeping a wary eye on Nigerian military activities. The revelation of the helicopter deal with Israel rang alarm bells.
The French linked the frustrations in military circles in Abuja, over the growing revelation of the Chadian governments involvement in the arming of Boko Haram, to Nigeria’s secrete effort to acquire top of the line AH-1 Viper helicopters from Israel as prelude to a Nigerian reprisal attack that was sure to come.
Paris prevailed on Washington about a potential Nigerian military move into Chad using the Boko Haram insurgency as a pretex, and called on the U.S to block the deal.
Washington’s action was swift. The U.S blocked any transaction of excess American-made weapon systems to Nigeria by Israel, insisting also that Israeli-made equipment should be exported to the country only “under strict conditions”.
The Nigerian government did not see this coming. The decision of the United States to lean on Israel to halt military sales to Nigeria was the first indication of a convergence of interests between the US and the French in Africa a merging of interests.
Rattled by Nigeria’s arms deal with Israel and the chance discovery that Nigeria had been secretely operating armed attack drones for months, monitoring military installations in Chad, the French government began a massive deployment of forces to Chad.
The spike in French footprint in Chad was in full swing. This was necessary as all indication showed Nigeria was getting worked up with the Chadians for destabilizing Nigeria. There was a likelihood of Nigerian military pursuing Boko Haram into Chadian territory.
It was clear the Americans discouraged the Israeli’s from selling its hardware to the Nigerians was informed with the need of protecting the French interests in the Sahel region, and to expose Nigerian military weaknesses purposely to discourage the incompetent military chiefs from procuring hardware that might engage Nigerians in a disastrous war with Chad.