Nigeria appoints new army chief after death of top ranking commander

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari appointed a new chief of army staff on Thursday after the previous top-ranking commander and 10 other officers died in a plane crash last week.

It was the third air disaster this year for the military, which is fighting a decade-long jihadist insurgency in the northeast, kidnap gangs in the northwest and separatist violence in the southeast.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff,” defence spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwe said in a statement.

Few details are known of Yahaya, whose nomination needs confirmation from the National Assembly.

In April 2020, he was named theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the military’s campaign in the northeast, recently renamed Operation Hadin Kai.

His predecessor, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, who died in the crash on Friday had only been appointed in January.

The aircraft went down “due to inclement weather,” the armed forces said, when trying to land at Kaduna’s international airport.

A day earlier, news emerged that Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau had been seriously wounded or possibly killed after clashes with ISWAP, a rival Islamic State-allied faction.

Neither ISWAP nor Boko Haram have reported Shekau dead, but analysts said his loss would be a huge blow to his faction and potentially allow ISWAP to consolidate territorial control in Nigeria’s northeast.

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