The Chief of the Defense Staff, General Ahmed Mohamed, and the Chief of the Land Staff, General Sidikou Issa, were replaced on Monday, the Nigerien government announced the day after the announcement of the death toll of 89 soldiers killed during the attack on Chinégodar camp on January 9.
“Major General Salifou Modi is appointed Chief of the Defense Staff and Brigadier General Seidou Bagué is appointed Chief of the Land Staff,” according to a press release from the Council of Ministers read to the public radio.
The new boss of the Nigerian armies, General Salifou Modi, 57, was a member of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD, military junta) from 2010 to 2011.
The decision was taken during an extraordinary council of ministers held just before the departure of Nigerian president Mahamadou Issoufou for the Pau summit (south of France) which brings together the G-5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania , Niger, Chad) and France on the fight against jihadism in the area.
Sunday, Niger authorities have revised up the toll of the attack on Chinégodar from 25 soldiers killed to 89, the most deadly attack suffered by the Nigerien army since the resumption of jihadist attacks in 2015. This attack occurred a month after that of Inates, in the same region of Tillabéri, bordering Mali, which had claimed the lives of 71 soldiers and traumatized the country.
All of the Sahel – in particular Mali, Niger and Burkina – is targeted by the increasingly daring assaults of Islamist groups, despite the strengthening of local armies and the presence of 4,500 French soldiers of the Barkhane anti-terrorist force . According to the UN, jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina claimed 4,000 lives in 2019.
The Pau summit must strengthen the disputed legitimacy of the French soldiers deployed in the area and mobilize the European allies, but also address coordination between the countries of the region and try to find better efficiency in the fight against jihadist groups.