How we dislodged Boko Haram from Sambisa Forest — Nigerian Army

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Army troops clearing Boko Haram enclaves along Bitta to Tokumbere, Sambisa Forest, Borno state
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Army troops clearing Boko Haram enclaves along Bitta to Tokumbere, Sambisa Forest, Borno state

The Nigerian Army on Wednesday provided further details of how its gallant troops descended on and captured the dreaded Sambisa Forest from where the terrorist Boko Haram group had launched deadly attacks on Nigeria for years.

Briefing journalists in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Leo Irabor, a major general, said the operation was executed by a combination of ground attacks and air assaults on the location.

Mr. Irabor said, “Recall that during our last meeting, I told you to take particular note of Camp Zairo in Sambisa Forest. Our gallant troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE have cleared the location which is the last stronghold of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) deep inside Sambisa Forest.

“On 22 Dec 16 at about 0800hrs, own troops commenced advance for the capture of Camp Zairo which was the main Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) enclave suspected to be holding high value persons in Sambisa Forest.

“The Air Component and Artillery were effectively employed during the operation before the final assault by the troops. Our troops made contact with the BHT and successfully cleared the camp after some resistance from the insurgents.

“On sighting of our troops and having been overpowered in the fire fight, most of the BHT fighters fled in all direction. The gallant troops subsequently carried out search for any abductees and equipment. Our troops also raided and destroyed other camps and hideouts around Camp Zairo. At the camp, our troops destroyed several BHT logistics as shown.

“The gallant troops also dismantled the official BHT flag at Camp Zairo signifying the capture of the insurgents’ headquarters. The flag would be officially presented to me by the GOC 7 Div. Later, same would be conveyed to Chief of Air Staff for further action to the C-in-C.

“During the operation in Sambisa, ISR coverage indicated that the BHT were in disarray.”

Mr. Irabor said before the final assault on Sambisa Forest, troops conducted some fighting patrols around the area.

Read the full briefing by Mr. Irabor below.

TEXT OF MEDIA BRIEFING BY MAJOR GENERAL LEO IRABOR COMMANDER OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE ON WEDNESDAY 28TH DECEMBER 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, in continuation with the weekly live update of our activities in Operation LAFIYA DOLE, this afternoon I am glad to welcome you to Headquarters Theatre Command for this interaction. Recall that during our last meeting, I told you to take particular note of Camp Zairo in Sambisa Forest. Our gallant troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE have cleared the location which is the last stronghold of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) deep inside Sambisa Forest. For the purpose of emphasis, let me re-orient you to Sambisa Forest before giving you the detailed account of the operation as well as other activities undertaken in the past one week as shown.

Capture of Camp Zairo. On 22 Dec 16 at about 0800hrs, own troops commenced advance for the capture of CAMP ZAIRO which was the main BHT enclave suspected to be holding high value persons in Sambisa Forest.

The Air Component and Artillery were effectively employed during the operation before the final assault by the troops. Our troops made contact with the BHT and successfully cleared the camp after some resistance from the insurgents.

On sighting of our troops and having been overpowered in the fire fight, most of the BHT fighters fled in all direction. The gallant troops subsequently carried out search for any abductees and equipment. Our troops also raided and destroyed other camps and hideouts around Camp Zairo. At the camp, our troops destroyed several BHT logistics as shown.

The gallant troops also dismantled the official BHT flag at Camp Zairo signifying the capture of the insurgents’ Headquarters. The flag would be officially presented to me by the GOC 7 Div. Later, same would be conveyed to COAS for further action to the C-in-C.

Air Ops. During the operation in Sambisa, ISR coverage indicated that the BHT were in disarray. The clip is as shown.

Fighting Patrols. Our troops have conducted some fighting patrols during the period under review:

On 20 Dec 16 at about 1730hrs, own troops deployed at MIYANTI conducted patrol along road MIYANTI-BANKI Junction. Contact was made with the BHTs at one of their crossing points and one of them was killed in action while another was wounded. Items recovered during the patrol include 3 bicycles, a basket of kola nuts, 2 cartoons of Omo detergent, 92 sachets of cowbell milk, 7 measuring cups of sugar, 15 bars of duck soap, 10 packets of matches and 8 packets of Diclofenac tablet.

On 22 Dec 16 at about 0843hrs, own troops in conjunction with vigilantes conducted fighting patrol along road KATARKO – GONIRI -BULTURAM KURA – BULTURAM KWANA – MELERI – NGAMMA and YURAMTI village. The patrol team apprehended 15 suspected BHT members comprising 5 men and 10 family members in YURAMTI village. The suspects were relocating from ZINDIYA and BUK villages in DAMBOA LGA of Borno State to GONIRI town. All suspects are in custody undergoing investigation.

On 23 Dec 16 at about 0801hrs, own troops embarked on fighting patrol to KALARI village to deny BHT freedom of action. The patrol recovered one HK21 machine gun during search of a suspected location and there was no any contact with BHT.

Ambush Operation. We equally conducted ambush operations during the period under review:

Between 19 21 Dec 16, own troops in conjunction with CJTF embarked an ambush operations at suspected BHT crossing point in MADA general area where they laid in wait for 2 days. During the process, a suspected BHT member Ali Bulama (53 years) was arrested in MOMADU BUKUMIRI village around MAINOK general area in KONDUGA LGA of Borno State. The suspect has been undergoing interrogation.

On 23 Dec 16 at about 0845hrs, own troops deployed at MAULI on admin patrol to Alagarno ran over an IED along the road and while attempting to salvage the situation, they came under escaping BHT attack. Sadly, 4 soldiers were killed in action while 2 others were wounded. One canter truck was damaged. The wounded soldiers have been stabilised while the bodies of Killed in Action (KIA) troops had been deposited at University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) mortuary.

Arrests. During the period, our troops arrested some suspected BHT in different areas. These BHT fled Sambisa Forest during our operations.

On 20 Dec 16 at about 0530hrs, own troops deployed at ZABARMARI arrested one Abdullahi Yakine at DANGE in MAFA LGA. Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is from BURKINA FASO. Suspect in our custody undergoing further investigation.

On 24 Dec 16, own troops arrested a suspected BHT leader who was traced to Lagos. He has been undergoing investigations.

On 25 Dec 16, own troops deployed in POTISKUM arrested a suspected BHT member Musa Abdullahi at FIKA. He is in custody undergoing interrogation.

On 26 Dec 16, following a tip-off, our troops arrested 2 BHT members who sneaked into Maiduguri. Their accomplice has also been arrested and is undergoing interrogation.

Interception of Suicide Bombers. On 26 Dec 16 at about 0815hrs, some civilians within Kasuwan Shanu in MAIDUGURI sighted 2 suicide bombers trying to infiltrate the cattle market. The suspects were challenged by CJTF from a distance but one of the 2 suicide bombers panicked and attempted to run into the crowd to detonate the suicide vest strapped on her.

The vest detonated partially killing her while the other attempted to run but was killed before detonating the suicide vest her. Only the 2 suicide bombers died during the incident. No other casualty was recorded. The Nigeria Police and its EOD team recovered the unexploded suicide vests.

Warning. Given the situation of the BHT who are currently in disarray, the public is hereby warned to be weary of individuals coming to hibernate in and around their homes. Also, we would like to warn that failure to report the presence of BHT members in your home is tantamount to support to the BHT. All are therefore, to report such presence to troops and other security agencies.

Christmas Celebration by Troops. Own troops celebrated Christmas on 25 Dec 16 with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and other Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) from Army Headquarters /Corps Commanders /General Officers Commanding in all their locations within the Theatre. The COAS’ Christmas and New Year 2017 Goodwill Message for the troops was delivered to the troops. The COAS wished them happy Christmas celebration and urged them to remain focused, disciplined, loyal, dedicated and patriotic in the discharge of their duties. As part of the Christmas Day activities, there was a Church Service as well Opening of Roads MAIDUGURI MONGUNO BAGA and MAIDUGURI GUBIO KARETO DAMASAK. The Governor of Borno State Hon Kashim Shettima was the Special Guest of Honour at the event. After the ceremony, the COAS and other senior officers and other dignitaries were in DAMASAK to celebrate Christmas with troops. The activities in various locations are as shown.

Summary of Rescues/Interception
Going Forward Expectations. At this stage, mop-up operations would be intensified. Road construction will also continue deep into the forest to enhance domination. Other stakeholders are expected to repair roads, bridges and carryout massive reconstruction across the Theatre.

Contributions by way of equipment support for construction and re-building of infrastructures and communities would be appreciated from corporate organizations and well-meaning Nigerians. Care for the IDPs should equally be intensified.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have won the war. We need to win the peace. You have a role. Our collective destiny lies in our hands. You have what it takes to contribute selflessly to this cause. I therefore urge members of the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons and objects to the military or to the nearest security agencies.

On this note, on behalf of all troops in Operation LAFIYA DOLE, I wish to sincerely thank the Commander-in-Chief for all the support and encouragement. I also thank the Chief of Defence Staff, the COAS as well other Service Chiefs for all their leadership and support to our operations in the Theatre.

The understanding and sacrifice by all the credible media houses in our operations are well appreciated. I thank everyone, and re-state that we remain ever committed to the mandate of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. Thank you.

Major General LEO IRABOR
Theatre Commander
Operation LAFIYA DOLE


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  • Right Minded

    You claim to have won the war, but you are yet arrest or kill Shekau, or free the remaining “chibok girls”. So which war have you won? I heard you have arrested the qoran used by Shekau and you are planning to present the arrested qoran to Buhari in a lavished ceremony. What a brainless and shameless military we have in this zoo called Nigeria. You didnt want to admit that the money released and spent for this operation was a total waste, hence you claimed to have won an imaginary war and arrested Shekau’s qoran and flag. What a joke of the century. There will be military parade and the so called Qoran will be put in a military jeep escorted by thousands of fully armed soldiers to Aso Rock for the so called presentation. How do these people know the qoran belongs to Shekau? All the while these soldiers were capturing all the areas previously occupied by boko haram, i haven’t seen any of them hoisting the Nigerian flag as a mark of victory over those territories, all they they have been holding and hoisting are the flags of Boko haram. When you capture an area, u burn the enemies flag and hoist yours, not the other way round. This systematically means that Boko haram is still in charge of those areas since they are indirectly being sponsored by Buratai, Danbazzau and Buhari.

    • raji

      You can’t appreciate them because your family members are not involved. When your brother was in power they can’t even go near sambisa not to talk of entering sambisa forest.

      • truth_stinks

        Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarap! Appreciate what? How can you say a war has been won when we are not told where the girls were kept, their location in the forest or in the Emir’s palaces where they were kept and so on. How can a band of heartless politicians just pull the wool over our eyes, just like that? So many questions are left unanswered. Who is funding terrorism in Nigeria? Who are their sponsors in the region? Is the Sambissa we see in photos the same Sambissa we were told in those days is a forest so thick that it is dark in the afternoon?

        • Malik Isah

          you are indeed very educated. it shows in your writing!

  • Arkhuma

    …But why is there never a mention of capturing the leader Abubak Shekau?
    …Why is it that neither Buhari nor any government official ever speaks of capturing Shekau and its so called top commanders?

    Is this how US and the rest of the world fought Al Quaeda? To just announce that they have “cleared” their bases and camps? Oh my one Nigeria! This is fraud right before the eyes of 200 million Mumus. And by the way where is that useless Professor without PhD who is busy tearing Green card because Trump is alleged to have grabbed some women’s poppy BUT has refused to tear his Nigerian passport when Buhari sends soldiers to murder innocent protesters and bury them in mass graves? Hypocrites!

    Can we just begin to speak truth just for once in this Nigeria? Can we?

    • Malik Isah

      yes, that is how the US announced it and Osama was killed many years later. PLEASE GO AND CROSS CHECK. and check again how you can become a professor.

    • Julius

      “Is this how US and the rest of the world fought Al Quaeda? To just announce that they have “cleared” their bases and camps?”. Yes it was and they even did that and announced it more than once..it also took them years to get Osama -bin-ladden. Most of us remember sir. By the way, some Al-Quaeda are still operating in some part of Afghan but, not as powerful as they once was. Give credit to whom credit is due. Thank our troops and our C in C.

  • Arkhuma

    ” Our collective destiny lies in our hands. You have what it takes to contribute selflessly to this cause. I therefore urge members of the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons and objects to the military or to the nearest security agencies.” – General Irabor

    The General must be out of his mind, confused and perhaps high on something. If I may ask; you and who have “collective destiny”? …………..that Fulani herdsmen raid, rape, kill and burn to death people in Southern Kaduna? Invade and murder people all over Nigeria and Buhari says nothing………………….and not even one (I repeat, not even one) so called Cattle herdsman is in jail? …and supposed humans like Sultan of Sokoto and his brother in crime (El- Ruffian of Kaduna) tell us that the killers are not Nigerians….and then that they pay them salaries periodically to persuade them to stop killing people? Come on! What is really happenin in Nigeria?

  • Makonowe

    As @ today December 29, 2016 the exchange rate is: $1 = N501

    Please stop diverting people’s attention with your boko haram created by power hungry and vampire Northern politicians. In Ekiti state Dogs have become endangered species as people can no longer buy fish and bush meat. Very soon Nigerians will begin to eat weaker Nigerians as meat.

  • Kelly

    Funny nation, with funny military and funny gullible citizens. You defeated Boko Haram, you did not arrest their leader, you did not seize their armoury and heavy equipment weapons, you did not bring back the so called Chibok girls, whom the president himself said that he can’t claim to have defeated Boko Haram until the girls are rescued and returned to their parents. What a weird set of clowns parading themselves as humans and thinking every other person is skull-less like them. What do you want us to do with the flag and koran? Is he using the Koran and flag to manufacture the bombs? Nonsense!!!

  • Nigerian Builder

    May God deliver our dear nation.
    Congratulations our dear military. Thank u for the job well done.Shame and disgrace to those who used the blood and destinies of their bewitched misguided almajiri children to gain political milage and power.May God reward them according to their evil works.God bless Nigeria.