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Profile of the New Chief of Defence Staff: Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea (LEO) Irabor

Maj. Gen. Irabor CDS.

Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor was born on 5th October 1965 in Aliokpu Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. He 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 attended Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) for his Junior Staff Course in 1995 and Ghana Armed Forces Staff College Teshi, Accra Ghana for Senior Staff Course in 2000/2001 amongst other several military courses. Also, he attended National Defence College in Bangladesh in 2010 and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA in 2012 and 2017. Major General Lucky Irabor 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.

General Lucky was the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole counterinsurgency force in north-east Nigeria. Operation Lafiya Dole is the name given by the army to its operation to defeat the Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria. As the dedicated leader of this command, the following successes were recorded within a short period:

Always in the forefront of his assignment, as Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE, he was in charge of 3 Divisions from the Nigerian Army, an Air Task Force and a Maritime Component. Major General Irabor 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. It is headquartered in N’Djamena and is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, when the political process of expanding the MNJTF was reinvigorated and led to swifter progress, including the expansion of troop numbers and mandate, and relocation of the HQ to N’Djamena, Chad, there were meetings held between the military forces of Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria targeted towards restoring peace and security in the various territories of these three Nations. There were very vital structural changes after these meetings like the increase in the numbers of soldiers, the creation of a new Concept of Operations under the supervision of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, and the move of the HQ to N’Djamena. It was agreed that a Nigerian officer would be the Force Commander for the duration of the mission against Boko Haram, with a Cameroonian as Deputy Commander and Chadian Chief of Staff.

Having served brilliantly as the head and Field Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), General Irabor was transferred to Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja. Here, he was the Chief of Defence Training and Operations. During the outbreak of the dreaded COVID 19, 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.

TO put in summary, Major General Lucky Irabor has held several appointments in the course of his loyal service to Nigeria and her people. Notable amongst which are Academy Adjutant at the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy, Commanding Officer 515 Signal Regiment, Commander 53 Signals Brigade, Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Army Staff, Coordinator Nigerian Army Aviation, Deputy Theatre Commander/Land Component Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Force Commander Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and currently the Chief of Defence Training and Operations.

This senior officer is widely travelled. He is happily married and blessed with children. His hobbies include reading, jogging and listening to good music



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