The military plays down its loss of Damboa, saying it will not concede any part of Nigeria to any insurgent group.
The spokesperson for the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, on Monday said the Nigerian military was preparing to embark on actions that would enable it to regain the Damboa area of Borno State, which it lost to the extremist Boko Haram sect.
Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, also said the military would soon reverse the current “insecurity manifestations” in the area.
Mr. Olukolade was reacting to questions raised by journalists concerning reports that members of the Boko Haram sect had taken over Damboa and even hoisted the flag of their organisation after dislodging the military and killed scores of civilian residents.
“The Nigerian military will not concede any portion of this country to any such group,” Mr. Olukolade said.
“We are firming up our deployment in that general area. Right now they (members of the armed forces) are setting up their activities to reverse any form of insecurity that is noted around there.”
The defence spokesperson spoke during the regular briefing by the National Information Centre (NIC), coordinated by the Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri.
In his speech, Mr. Omeri advised Nigerians to disregard alleged threats by some Kano lawyers who warned non-northerners to move out of the area within two weeks or face consequences.
“The citizens of Nigeria have right to live anywhere within the territory,” Mr. Omeri said. “Therefore, no group of persons or individuals has any rights within the constitution of this country to order the movement of any citizen out of any territory or state.
“If any lawyer or any groups of persons or government embarks on this, it would end up an exercise in futility, one that should be totally ignored by all Nigerians.
“We also heard about a similar thing in Imo State sometimes ago. This is the time to state it loud and clear that citizens should not tolerate it.”
The Spokesman for the Nigeria Police, Frank Mba, reiterated that position.
“Nigerians wherever they live in this country have a right to freedom of movement, freedom of association, have a right to own property and to pursue their daily lives as long as they do so within the confines and norms of the law and therefore, it is clearly outside the powers of any other citizens to say any other thing contrary to what the constitution has provided,” Mr. Mba said.
“Those of us within the security sector are monitoring these developments; we are watching it very closely.”
The spokesperson for the for the Department of State Security Services (SSS), Marilyn Ogar, expressed bitterness at a former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, for complaining about delay at the airport by SSS operatives this morning.
“Government has asked the SSS to be at the airport. Statutorily, SSS clears all passengers travelling out or coming into this country,” Ms. Ogar said. “I don’t know why some people will sometimes arrogate to themselves unnecessary importance when we have serious security challenges in our hands.”