• Country Has Capacity To Fight B’Haram, Other Criminalities, Says DHQ
• NAF Deploys Additional Forces And Equipment To North East
• Army Refuses To React To Video Of Abduction Of UNIMAID Lecturers By Boko Haram
• 14 Killed In Dikwa, Borno State, Bomb Blast
On at least four occasions in the past, the Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed it had killed the leader of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau. But the military high command last week did a remarkable volte-face and ordered its men to capture the lethal killer within 40 days, dead or alive.
It is the same way that the Army’s claim of winning the war against the insurgents is appearing to be pyrrhic victory afterall, especially with the barrage of attacks, kidnappings as well as the rising loss of lives of military personnel and civilians in recent times.
The resurgence of the terrorist group, despite President Muhammadu Buhari announcing its “final crushing” in December 2016, also finds vent in last Tuesday’s capture of academics from the University of Maiduguri, and officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission (NNPC), who were on an oil exploration exercise in Lake Chad basin.
A day after the attack, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) Chapter, said five staff of the school were killed by the insurgents, just as four are still missing.
Chairman of the association, Dr. Danny Mamman, told newsmen in Maiduguri that the team attacked by the insurgents consisted of geologists, staff of NNPC, members of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and military personnel.
The Nigerian Army, on its part, in a statement on Wednesday, by Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Sani Kukasheka Usman, said it had rescued all the victims.It said that nine soldiers and five staff of the university were killed in the attack, adding that soldiers had recovered all the corpses in the rescue operation.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Friday, in a tacit confirmation of Boko Haram’s resurgence revealed that the terrorists were back to the Sambisa Forest area of Borno State. It also said that its fighter jets and attack helicopters had bombed the terrorists’ hideouts 108 times between April and July this year.
Air Component Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, while briefing newsmen in Yola, Adamawa State said: “Intelligence surveillance and Reconnaissance reports through the second quarter of 2017 indicated a gradual return of the Boko Haram terrorist activities to the Sambisa Forest.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday insisted that the country has capacity to sustainably wage a war against the insurgents in the North East, and other criminalities nationwide.
Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj. Gen John Enenche, told The Guardian that the fight against all shades of criminalities was not all about money alone, but using all the kinetics and non-kinetic approaches to win the war, stressing that one can have all the money without emerging victorious in the war.
He said: “We have enough, but it is to win every aspect of this war, every aspect of this conflict that we are going to do, and that is what the country is doing, it is a multi-sectoral approach we are taking.”
Insisting that the country has enough resources to rout the terrorists, but was only being careful in order not to escalate the collateral damage, Enenche added: “In the North East, the Armed Forces are not like the Boko Haram terrorists that will kill anything that has life anywhere they bomb. If it was that, the war would have been won long ago, but there are human beings there, innocent civilians who say this is our country; this is our state, and this is our zone, we would still be here.
“So, it is not the arsenal that you amass that matters, using it appropriately is what matters. For sure we are going to use it appropriately, and we have the resources and the political will and we are being provided with what we need.
“I will say that for me as a military strategist yes, the country is financially able to support the military to carry out the task ahead of us in the area of curbing all the insecurity all over the country.”
He appealed to the general public to give information to the military on any strange movement of persons or machinery within their environment, maintaining that, “there is hope that with the sacrifice of our men and resources, the situation would only continue to improve around the Sambisa area and the entire North East.”
In an apparent response to the resurgence of terrorists in the North East and general area around the Sambisa Forest, the NAF, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said it has introduced additional measures aimed at increasing its operational capability in the ongoing counterinsurgency operations.The measures include, the deployment of additional NAF Special Forces and personnel of the Regiment Specialty to reinforce base security, and also fight alongside the Nigerian Army troops and NAF Special Forces that are already on ground.
The statement by Director of Information and Public Relations, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, added that, “the NAF has deployed thermal imaging cameras aimed at adding more value to the current efforts at detecting and checkmating the activities of suicide bombers before they carry out their suicide missions.”
The thermal imaging camera uses infrared and reads temperature differences up to an appreciable distance away and has the capacity to identify a person at an acceptable distance.
The cameras, which are mounted on NAF aircrafts, can also penetrate obscurants such as smoke, fog and haze, and immensely help the service in its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, and interdiction missions on identified BHT targets. Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, last Sunday, revealed that the service required more men and materials to help it police every inch of the 60, 000sq kilometers Sambisa Forest.
“Sambisa Forest is still substantially under the control of our forces and we fly over it day and night. Sometimes, for some of these pilots, as we are going to sleep, that is when they are getting airborne. They take off at 11pm and land at 5am. All they want is to make sure that Nigeria is safe. Remember that the forest itself is about 60, 000sq kilometres, and you can’t be on every inch of it, but where the Boko Haram insurgents had their headquarters at Camp Zero has been dismantled. Do we have all the forces to capture every inch of the land within that 60,000sq km? That is the question we should be asking,” Abubakar said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army is yet to react to the abduction of three of the four missing staff of UNIMAID, who were abducted by a faction of the Boko Haram terrorists led by Khalifa Albarnawi.In a trending three minutes 30 second video, the three lecturers were shown sitting in a room in which the walls were covered with fabric, and calling on the Federal Government to negotiate their release.
Efforts by The Guardian to contact spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen Sani Usman, on phone did not yield fruits, as calls to his cell phone were not answered. Even text messages sent to him were also not replied.
In the video, the three abducted lecturers urged the Nigeria government and all other relevant authorities linked with the service they were providing before they were abducted to comply with the demands of their abductors and ensure they are released alive.
In a related development, a female suicide bomber on Friday night killed 14 people and injured 24 others in an attack believed to be targeted at internally displaced persons in Dikwa, Borno State.
The Borno State Emergency Management Agency said it evacuated 14 corpses and 24 injured people from the scene of the attack.It was gathered that the suicide bomber infiltrated a housing estate in Dikwa accommodating returning Internally Displaced Persons and denotated explosives.According to the Head of the Rapid Response Team of the State Emergency Management Agency, Bello Dambatta, a female suicide bomber sneaked into a building close to the estate around 8:30 pm and detonated the explosives strapped to her.