New Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen Leo Irabor taking over from his predecessor, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja
CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Major-General Leo Irabor is coming into the position with experience of being in the war front.
The name Irabor which is found in Benin, Edo State and Ika areas of Delta State, some say means “I lift my hands in prayer to God” and “I lift my hands in praises to God”.
On assumption of office, immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin said the new CDS was familiar with the security challenges, having previously served as Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE and Multinational Joint Task Force.
Olonisakin said that there could not have been a better choice of a seasoned senior officer, who will hit the ground running as the new CDS.
Major-General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna as a member of the 34 Regular Course in 1983 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 28 June 1986 into the Signals Corps of the Nigerian Army.
Major General Irabor attended several military and civil courses both locally and abroad.
He is a trained Engineer from Obafemi Awolowo University and interesting, he holds two Masters Degrees from University of Ghana, Accra and Bangladesh University of Professionals, Dhaka.
His appointment as the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole counterinsurgency force in north-east brought him to limelight in his chosen career.
He was responsible for the capture of Alargano Forest – the acclaimed spiritual base of Boko Haram Terrorists. He also planned and executed the conduct of Operations CRACK DOWN 1 and 2, RESCUE FINALE and DEEP PUNCH which led to the clearance of SAMBISA FOREST, destruction of BHT camps and enclaves, capture of several weapons, vehicles and equipment belonging to BHT as well as rescued well over 20,000 civilians abducted by BHT, including 2 Chibok Girls. Furthermore, the impact of the operations he conducted forced the BHT to release a total of 103 Chibok Girls in two instances. As Force Commander MNJTF, he successfully planned and conducted Operation AMNI FAKAT within the Lake Chad Basin Area which led to the clearance and domination of Gashigar, Arege and Metele as well destruction of several terrorists’ camps and IED making factories. During his tenure, over 25,000 hostages were liberated.
After completing his time at the Operation LAFIYA DOLE, General Lucky Irabor also graciously served as the head and Field Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF). The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is a combined multinational formation, comprising units, mostly military, from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria.
As the Chief of Defence Training and Operations (CTOP), he successfully headed a Committee that was put in place to interface with all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria managing the COVID 19 Pandemic. This Committee set up 17 isolation and treatment centres spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Being a very proactive professional soldier, General lucky coordinated the planning and execution of Operation 777 in all DHQ led operations leading to the successful conduct of the 2019 General Elections. He initiated training and operational actions intended to optimize the effectiveness of the Armed Forces of Nigeria including the recently conducted first-ever Defence HQ Training Conference. He is also responsible for the coordination of all activities of the Department of Defence Training and Operations, Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Before his appointment as CDS, Gen. Irabor served as Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) headquartered in Minna, Niger State.
He has earned several honours – Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Distinguished Service Star (DSS) and Grand Service Star (GSS). Others include Command Medal and Field Command Medal (FCM). He was also awarded the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping medals for operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as medals for United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
As he took over Command of the Armed Forces of Nigeria as the 17 Chief of Defence Staff on the 29th January, 2021, Irabor acknowledged the security situation of the country.
He also pledged to provide the right leadership and ambience for the members of the armed forces to perform their duties effectively.
Irabor thanked President Buhari for considering him fit for the appointment as CDS and pledged to hit the ground running.
As his name says, he will be hopefully ‘lifting his hands in prayer to God’ to bring an end to the Insecurity hiting the country hard, and also hopeful that by the time he will hand over to his successor, it will be time to ‘lift his hands in praises to God’.New Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen Leo Irabor taking over from his predecessor, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja