On 18 April 1983, in a well planned and rehearsed operation, three thousand Chadian soldiers under the command of Idris Derby invaded and seized 19 Islands in the Lake Chad axis in Borno State. Twenty four hours later six villages in Borno State fell to Chadian troops.
Stunned by this daring unprovoked attack, Nigeria’s President Alhaji Shehu Shagari orders the Commander of the Nigerian Army 3rd Army Division General Muhammadu Buhari to flush out the invaders.
General Buhari, in his capacity as General Officer Commanding (GOC) augmented his forces with the Nigerian Army 21st Amoured Brigade in Maiduguri.
A skilled military tactician General Buhari resisted the temptation to use Nigeria’s overwhelming superiority in amoury and man power to charge headlong . He knew the Chadians were highly skilled fighters who use their excellent mobility to their advantage. Instead he ordered the Nigerian Army Scout Regiment to recconnitor Chadian military positions.
The Nigerian Army Scout Regiment is the reconnaissance arm of the infantry. Their job is to obtain and disperse viral combat and battlefield information on the enemy under any conditions.
An Army Scout assigned to the 301 Field Artillery Regiment scans the horizon for artillery targets in the vast featureless plains of the Sambisa Forest.
Reports from Scouts confirmed the Generals suspicion. Expecting a massive retaliatory attack spearheaded by tanks, the occupying Chadian troops had prepared anti series of tank obstacles on the likely approaches by digging 10 ft trenches around fortified positions. The plan was to lure Nigerian tanks towards the myriad of concealed trenches, making it impossible to navigate. Once trapped the tanks would then be engaged by concealed troops with anti-tank weapons and RPG’s at close range.
SHOCK AND AWE.
With the Intel gathered by scouts the GOC began preparation for a punitive attack. Taking advantage of the night Nigerian troops quitely moved into flanking positions.
At day break, the Nigerian Army, under the able Commander General Muhammadu Buhari launched a massive operation to dislodge the invading Chadian forces. 4,000 soldiers besieged Chadian forces on three fronts. As Chadian troops came under relentless artillery bombardment from the eastern flank, Nigerian soldiers in the Western axis began their push to link up with the 3rd strike component in the rear, effectively encircling Chadian forces.
As Chadian casualties mounted General Buhari ordered a temporary halt to the advance, to allow Chadian forces an escape route back into Chad via the northern axis.
Stunned and disoriented by the unexpected attack from seemingly everywhere by Nigeria infantry, Chadian soldiers began to abandoned their positions in a disorganized manner and fled the battlefield in droves, leaving their vehicles and equipment behind.
It was at this moment that Nigerian troops, led by General Buhari gave chase to the fleeing Chadian soldiers. To the General, flushing out the invaders was not enough, he was determined to make a bold statement to the Chadians and teach them a bitter lesson.
Nigerian troops crossed the border into Chadian territory and continued its pursuit. Orders from Nigeria’s President to halt his advance fell on deaf ears. Nigerian troops continued its advance until they were 50 kilometres from the N’Djamena, the Chadian Capital. Facing possible court marshal General Buhari stoped the advance and withdrew his forces.
General Buhari was immediately summoned by the President for disobeying a direct order from the President to stop his advance. In his defence the General claimed in the heat of battle he was unaware he had crossed into Chadian territory.