The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, a counterinsurgency operation in North-east Nigeria, Ibrahim Attahiru has said the outlawed Boko Haram group no longer controls any of the local government areas in Borno State.
Mr. Attahiru, a major general, said the activities of the troops under his command have brought “despondency” on the outlawed Boko Haram group.
“This is official and emphatic; there is no local government area in Borno state that is under Boko Haram control”, said Mr. Attahiru.
He said Boko Haram insurgency would soon be phased out “in no distant time.”
According to him, the land and air components of the Operation Lafiya Dole have sustained the onslaught on Boko Haram under the two sub-operations tagged “Deep Punch” and “Ruwan Wuta (Rain of fire).”
The theatre commander said over 230 captives held by Boko Haram have been rescued within the period under review.
He said dozens of Boko Haram fighters, including key commanders have been killed while several others arrested and are currently being investigated.
Mr. Attahiru said 15 of the Boko Haram fighters, who launched an attack on the rocky town of Gwoza on Tuesday night, were killed after a gun battle. He said a large cache of arms was also recovered.
He said the Boko Haram fighters’ ranks have been depleted due to the sustained troops’ patrols and onslaughts; hence they resort to suicide bombing on vulnerable soft targets.
On the return of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs to their liberated communities, the theatre commander said the military command and control centre is working hard to see that IDPs return to their homes once confirmed to be safe.
“It is the wish and desire of the military to see that IDPs return home as soon as possible. That is why we commend the Borno State government for setting up the Bama initiative which if it succeeds will be lead to other local government areas to follow”, he said.
The theatre commander explained why the ongoing trial of 1600 Boko Haram suspects, scheduled to hold in Kainji, Niger State and Borno has not commenced.
“This is not a military trial, the suspects are being tried by the federal ministry of justice under the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“The minister of justice made it clear that the trial will take place in Kainji in Niger State and Maiduguri here in Borno State. So people should be patient and wait till the turn of Borno state comes.
Mr. Attahiru said the military is exploring two options towards rescuing the University of Maiduguri geologists, who were abducted by Boko Haram in July this year.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how a team of geologists who were helping the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to carry out a survey were attacked by the Boko Haram. Five of the geologists, and military escorts, including a younger brother of the University’s Vice-Chancellor, were killed.
The theatre commander explained that “in a hostage situation, you have several options open to you to explore to rescue the hostages; you can either use force or you can use explore the approach of negotiation. And for both options, we will explore them to the best level.”
He called on the general public especially the IDPs to be more patient and offer the military all the needed assistance and support so that the Boko Haram “madness” would be brought to an end.