Insurgents ravaging the North-eastern part of the country have been degraded in capacity, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
“Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram,” Mr Buhari said in his Democracy Day Speech.
The description is the latest of this administration and in particular, Mr Buhari. At several other times, he had used terms such as ‘technically defeated,’ ‘beaten’ to describe the status of the group.
Other officials including military chiefs have also claimed, at different times, that the terror group has been ‘defeated,’ a claim faulted by many Nigerians who make reference to the continuous killings by the terror group.
The president’s statement on Tuesday appears a clarification of his controversial declaration in December 2015 that the insurgent group has been ‘technically defeated.’
Since Mr. Buhari made the statement, hundreds of Nigerians have been killed in suicide attacks, and coordinated attacks on communities in the North-east region.
Similarly, in his 2018 New Year’s Day speech, Mr President said the insurgents have been beaten.
“We have since beaten Boko Haram,” he said. “Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.”
In his latest description, Mr Buhari flashed back to the situation before his ascension.
“Public safety and security remains the primary duty of this government. Before this administration came into being three years ago, Boko Haram held large areas of land spanning several Local Governments in the North East.”
Since assuming office, Mr President said, the fight against Boko Haram has led to release over of 16,000 people.
He commended the Armed Forces and the multi-country security force for the feat.
“I want to commend members of the Multinational Joint Task Force drawn from Niger, Benin, Chad, Cameroon and our own country in collaboration with the International Community who are assisting in the fight against insurgency in the North East.
“I also commend the gallantry of members of our Armed Forces and other security agencies that have continued to provide security for lives and properties across the country. State and Local traditional authorities are helping with much needed intelligence in this fight against insurgency.”
Mr Buhari pledged his administration’s commitment to end the insurgency.
“This administration is pained over the grievous loss of lives and properties occasioned by the carnage of insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country. I wish to assure Nigerians that we will not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors are brought to justice,” he said.
The Boko Haram insurgency has caused about 100,000 deaths since 2009 according to the Borno government.
The terror group’s activities, which spread as far as Abuja and Kano at its peak, have now been largely limited to the three North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.