The Nigerian military has claimed that it has destroyed all known Boko Haram camps including the terror group’s cells, command and control centres in the North-east.
This is coming as member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) are putting finishing touches to the full deployment of the 8,700-strong multinational joint task force (MNJTF) to the eight operational sectors.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col. Rabe Abubakar, stated this on Wednesday during his maiden media interaction with journalists at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja.
Abubakar said the terrorists had been defeated and weakened, assuring the press that they could no longer hold any territory in the North-east.
Fielding questions from the journalists, he confirmed THISDAY’s report that through advanced intelligence, there had been more precise aerial and ground bombardments of the terrorists’ camps, adding that their enclaves had been decimated and the members in disarray.
He said: “These terrorists have been subdued, even if they are adopting other means and as they are re-strategising, we are also doing the same and pre-empting them.
“We have coordinated the air and ground assaults to make sure that these terrorists’ hideouts are completely decimated. As I am speaking to you, all the terrorists’ camps have completely been wiped out.
“So right now they are completely in disarray, have no command and control of where to plan. We have even taken over their camps that most of them abandoned and are attempting to blend into towns and communities. We have also apprehended some of them and very soon innocent Nigerians can move back to their communities.
“We are making a lot of headway, so people should know that Boko Haram is no longer strong enough to hold grounds. Very soon this issue of whether they are in control of any territory in Nigeria or not will come to the open.
Abubakar said that lot of progress had been made as a result of new strategies adopted by the new service chiefs including constant morale boosting visits to the troops in the frontline.
These visits, he said, coupled with the deployment of sophisticated weapons, had not only boosted the morale of the troops, but practically introduced a new dimension in the war against insurgency in the North-east.
“Hence the issue of desertions, complaints of lack of equipment and low morale and motivation are now a thing of the past,” he explained.
Abubakar said more emphasis is now placed on credible training and retraining on the sanctity of human rights observance and the protection of the combatants in the battle field, adding that there is “improved enforcement of rules of international standards”.
“As the mop-up operation and clearance of mines is intensified in the liberated areas, so also are necessary measures being put in place to ensure that safety and security prevail in those places,” he said.
However, he stated that it would require a collective effort to detect and apprehend would-be suicide bombers in the North-east.
Part of that collective effort, Abubakar said, is the deployment of the 8,700-strong regional force at the designated sectors under the newly restructured MNJTF.
“Let me equally inform you that mobilisation and deployment of troops of MNJTF in the Lake Chad basin has reached an advanced stage.
“Our neighbouring countries have exhibited a high sense of commitment and sufficient cooperation towards ending the obnoxious activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the region with the contribution of 8,700 troops.
“When fully deployed, the troops of MNJTF will work closely with the Nigerian military to ensure a safe and terror-free region,” he stated.
In a related development, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, yesterday led Nigerian troops on field inspection of the recaptured strategic town of Gamboru Ngala in Borno State, crossing a bridge to Fatokol where a huge crowd of Nigerians received them with cheers and emotional tears.
According to a statement from PRNigeria, a media advisory for federal government security agencies, the level of devastation in Gamboru Ngala was horrific, as most infrastructure and monuments including vehicles, shops and street lights were destroyed by Boko Haram terrorists while the town was under their control.
The army chief assured the crowd that with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, the supply of new equipment and deployment of well-trained troops, Boko Haram atrocities would soon come to an end.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army yesterday paraded 16 suspected Boko Haram members and their alleged collaborators. Parading the suspects at the military base of the 27th military task force brigade in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, the acting commander of the task force, Colonel Dahiru Bako, said the suspects were arrested in different locations across the state.
Bako said some of the suspects were arrested shortly after carrying out an operation on the outskirts of Damaturu where two villagers were killed while others were nabbed as collaborators and informants of the insurgents.
The collaborators, according to him, were involved in the supply of logistics such as food, fuel and cigarettes, among other intoxicants.
Items recovered from the suspects and their collaborators included 16 jerry cans of petrol, eight jerry cans of cooking oil, and two bags of cannabis, among other large quantities of assorted drugs.
Others included 10 bags of rice, two bags of sugar, 12 bags of millet, six bags of potash as well as 12 bags of fertiliser used for the production of improvised explosive devices (IED).
Bako, who reiterated the commitment of the military and other security agencies to end the insurgency, called for the collaboration of well-meaning people of the state and beyond towards ending the crisis.