Following successes recorded in the war against Boko Haram in Nigeria’s North-East zone, the Armed Forces have intensified efforts to capture alive, the leader of the insurgent group, Abubakar Shekau.
Already, troops have been placed on alert to apprehend Mr. Shekau, who is said to be desperately trying to escape the warzone.
Military formations engaged in the war have been ordered to do everything in their power to capture Mr. Shekau alive in order for him to face justice; PR Nigeria, an agency that circulates press statements for Nigerian security agencies, quoted a senior military source as saying.
The order to capture the leader of insurgent group alive, PR Nigeria said, is borne out of the fact that on at least two different occasions, the military laid claims to killing Mr. Shekau and even flaunted videos just for the man to resurface and debunk the reports.
Mr. Shekau is, therefore, ordered to be taken alive to ensure that the military is no longer fooled by the gimmick of the insurgents.
Sources also told PR Nigeria that the rumour about Mr. Shekau’s invincibility is one of the factors that have made troops afraid to confront the terrorists.
But with the arrival of sophisticated armaments and the decision of top military brass to lead the onslaught against the terrorists, the troops’ morale has been greatly boosted.
Intelligence sources told PR Nigeria that the reclaiming of key towns in the North-East was due to deployment of new strategies, new equipment, improved discipline, and sincerity of the force fighting the insurgents.
In the past, colonels were said to have led direct attacks in accordance with military tradition but because of the large scale desertions recorded, generals decided to directly lead the war.
“It was even learnt that many of the troops that earlier deserted have returned while others have expressed desire to return to the front,” a source told PR Nigeria.
“With acquisition of new equipment from various sources and the specialized training of the troops on guerrilla warfare, the military indirectly called the bluff of some deceptive western countries who are now trying to save face by claiming to work with our neighbours.
“The effective collaboration and mutual relationship with our neighbours is paying off as they now realise that inactions can pose disasters to their countries too,” the source was quoted as saying.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on Saturday vowed that the Federal Government would regain parts of the country seized by the Boko Haram terror group.
Mr. Jonathan gave the assurance when he paid a courtesy visit to traditional rulers in Epe, near Lagos.
“I have made all the tools and machineries available to fight Boko Haram. I want to ensure that Boko Haram will not disturb or cause any violence during the forthcoming elections,’’ Mr. Jonathan told the monarchs.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported Saturday how a large number of terrorists drowned in the Lake Chad as they fled the heavy bombardment by Nigerian Air Force heralding the advance of Nigerian troops on a mission to flush them out of Baga.
“Not even the strategy of mining over 1500 spots with land mines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops,” the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, said in a statement.
He added, “All the land mines were skillfully cleared one after the other. Eventually, the resistance of the terrorists collapsed and the land forces finally stormed the town in the early hours of Friday.
“Many of the terrorists died while an unknown but substantial number of them fled with various degrees of injury, in the series of encounter along the routes of advance as troops headed for Baga.
“Apart from the 5 anti aircraft guns and the rifles captured from the terrorists, over 34 motorcycles and 5 vehicles including trucks being used for operations by the terrorists were destroyed in the course of the fighting as troops headed for Baga. The troops finally began clearing the terrorists from Baga on arrival in the town early Saturday morning.
“A comprehensive cordon and search phase of military operation has now commenced to enable troops mop up arms and ammunition and also apprehend any terrorist who might be hiding in the vicinity.
“The exercise will also determine details of the casualties inflicted or incurred in the course of the operations to clear Baga and environ of terrorists.
“Similar exercise is being carried out in over 12 locations namely Gajigana, Ngaze, Ngenzai, Marte Junction, Mile 90, Yoyo, Kekeno, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa, Kangarwa, Amirari and other localities where troops have flushed out the terrorists in the operations preceding the entry to Baga. The troops are now dominating and conducting aggressive patrols in the locations. The morale of troops remains high.”