Army records ‘astounding progress’ in fight against boko haram

Ugo Okoro

Operation Lafiya Dole Theater Commander Major General Leo Irabor

The Nigerian Army says that it has recorded ‘astounding progress’ in the fight against boko haram terrorists recently.

Operation Lafiya Dole Theater Commander, Major General Leo Irabor said this on Wednesday, as he gave an update on operations in the North east.

He told the media  that “so far, our troops have cleared and dominated almost the whole of Sambisa Forest including boko haram enclaves in Goneri, Goni Kurmi, Alafa 1, 2 And 3, Bula Bello And Njimia. Others Are Amdaga, Bitta, Sassawa, Tokombere, Jefe, Ndenema, Turori and Sambisa Gate 1.”

During the period under review, he said troops contained a few incidences of person borne improvised explosive devices.

He listed instances where suicide bombers tried to infiltrate the population.

” On 15 Dec at about 0810hrs, 2 female suicide bombers clad in hijab attempted to infiltrate our own defensive forward line at Limankara. They were shot by own troops when they refused to halt at a distance. Consequently, the IED vests strapped on their bodies exploded and killed the 2 suicide bombers.”

Irabor said he had “requested the Commissioners of Police of Borno and Adamawa States, the State Director, Department of State Services Borno State and other security Agencies to heighten their operations in order to eradicate cases of IEDs/Suicide Bombings.”

On clearance patrols, he gave certain instances where “on 15 Dec, own troops conducted a robust clearance operations in the general areas of KANGARWA, METELE, DOGON CHUKU and environs, capturing an elderly man who confessed to be the Amir of the adjoining Tumbus ahead of DOGON CHUKU. The arrested BHT Amir later died of gunshot wounds.  ”

On the rescue of fishermen, he said on 18 December, fifteen fishermen were rescued while one was killed in action and another taken away by boko haram.

Release of detainees

“On 16 Dec, a total of 299 cleared detainees were released to Borno State Government from our detention centre in Maiduguri. The released detainees were received by the representative of the state Government. In attendance were members of CJTF, affected LGA representatives and a team of UNICEF staff who donated some relief items to the released women and children,” Irabor said.

He added that “during our operations in the period 14 to 21 December , a total of 1880 civilians were rescued from BHT enclaves. Similarly, between 14 – 21 Dec 16, a total of 564 BHT members were arrested while 19 others surrendered to our troops. Also, 7 suspected kidnappers and 37 foreigners were equally arrested.”

The Commander said troops operating in Sambisa Forest had also embarked on earth road construction task to improve their operations.

Negative media

On the online video alleging maltreatment of soldiers, he said “there is an online video circulated by some media organisations to portray the alleged maltreatment of soldiers by not providing them with water and food. The video clip was shot on 31 March, by some mischievous and disgruntled elements when our troops captured Alagarno Forest during Operation CRACKDOWN on 28 Mar 16.”

He added that”the Board of Inquiry which instituted to investigate the matter, actually showed that as at the time of the incident, the unit’s water tanker still contained water but a soldier mischievously concealed it. That soldier was charged and punished accordingly.

I wish to observe the unfortunate development within a section of the Media who have, knowingly or unknowingly, chosen the negative path to incite the troops and denigrate the good efforts of Op LAFIYA DOLE.

Specifically, Premium Times, have repeatedly shown a pattern of reports disparaging the very noble and gallant efforts of troops. It has consistently worked, in futility, to cause disaffection among troops of Op LAFIYA DOLE. ”

On mutiny claims, about a Nigerian Army General escaping lynching by hungry soldiers, Irabor said: “What a hateful representation of the Medium’s wishes for the troops! Interestingly, on the said date of mutiny, I was in the frontlines in Bula Bello accompanied by the Ag GOC 7 Div and Comd 21 Bde, with the same troops that Premium Times claimed to have turned against their officers.”

“Whilst noting that the position of Premium Times is isolated, the rest of the Media have shown patriotism, commitment and support for the operation. I wish to therefore commend these patriotic Media Houses and urge them to continue in that regard. I equally wish to request the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the NUJ as well as other well-meaning Nigerians including those from the North East, to rise up and defend their national security interest.”

Irabor also advised the ” general public, especially the female students of our tertiary institutions, to be wary of a new subtle way of recruitment by suspected BHTs on the internet. Do not fall victim of such trap by being their agents or sympathizer. You have the ability to grow and be productive.

Do not join them in any way because BHT ideology is ungodly and the end is always a wasteful life. The BHT may also disguise as menial workers when actually they are fleeing from our onslaught.”