GIFT EMMANUEL, Abuja
MOVED by the nationwide criticism and open expression of doubt about the ability of the Armed Forces to defeat the nation’s blood-letting insurgents, Boko Haram, the Nigerian military has finally launched a coordinated offensive against the sect in the north east to bring the existence of the terrorists to an end.
The military campaign was launched simultaneously on Wednesday in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states using the encircling strategy which ensures that the militants will have no escape route since the Nigeria-Cameroun border areas were effectively closed before the operation commenced.
The spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Major General, Chris Olukolade disclosed that more than 5,000 combatants supported by modern equipment and commanded by newly deployed officers are participating in the latest military exercise which was described as an exercise designed to mark “a new phase in operations to further contain the terrorists and their activities”.
Addressing a press briefing in Abuja Thursday, the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade said, “this specialised campaign which has commenced is being undertaken simultaneously in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States. This operation is also in furtherance of efforts at apprehending the terrorists and ensuring they do not escape out of Nigeria as they are now so desperate to do.”
He said that the Defence Headquarters acknowledges with grave concern the continuing mindless killing of innocent school children and other citizens in towns and villages near the border following terrorist activities in some parts of the north east.
He however denied the allegation that troops were withdrawn from the school shortly before the attack.
In his words, “the dastardly acts have expectedly attracted the reaction of well-meaning individuals who have been condemning the senseless blood-letting. Disturbing as this trend proves, the fact remains that the chilly episodes are simply typical of terrorist intentions to intimidate the people into subscribing to their false claim to invincibility.
“This distressing situation notwithstanding, it must be pointed out that the current activities of the terrorist groups is actually at best a reaction to the offensive against the terror outfit whose operatives had infiltrated the countryside to support their hitherto depleted membership and counterparts in their daring acts to reinvent relevance by embarking on renewed attacks on soft targets”.
Major General Olukolade said the military will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that members of the insurgents are apprehended or eliminated because “in the course of their flight towards various borders, they have continued to perpetrate mayhem as noticed in some parts of Adamawa state Wednesday night where they attacked some communities.
“In desperation for money and food, they looted and burnt banks, shops and filling stations along their way through Michika as they headed for the Cameroon border. Six of their fighters were killed two were captured while nine of their vehicles were destroyed. One soldier and three civilians however died in the encounter,” he said.
Continuing, General Olukolade said: “It is believed that those involved in the latest attacks are elements that perpetrated the mayhem against the students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State and other places.
They have been holed up and are still engaged in suicidal fighting, apparently with a view to attaining martyrdom status, as troops close in on die-hard ones among them.”
He appealed to citizens in these states under emergency, particularly those living along border areas, “to assist the security forces by reporting movement of groups of people if noticed in their locality as it would further enhance the operations as well as assist in apprehending or eliminating them.
All things being equal, the activities of this murderous group will be further degraded towards total elimination shortly.”
The military officer equally appealed to Nigerian citizens to show greater understanding of the situation on hand and continue to cooperate with the security forces especially with vital and timely information on the movement of the terrorists to ensure quick response accordingly.