We need UN assistance to demine Sambisa forest – General Buratai

Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, says Nigeria needs the assistance of United Nations (UN) to demine Sambisa forest in Borno state.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Buratai said the army is doing a “limited demining” of the forest to enable the troops move around for operations.

He said that this is in order to create safe routes for the troops to move from one place to another.

“The army is currently doing a limited demining of routes in the forest to enable troops to move around for operations,” Buratai said.

“Strictly speaking, we have not started demining the Sambisa forest. The areas we are concentrating on are where we are working, where our troops will have to move from one point to the other.

“These are the efforts we are making to create safe lanes for troops to pass from one point to the other. But, for our deliberate demining efforts, it will require much, much resources, much more effort, and we may even request for the civilian demining support in that regard.

“Demining is not restricted to the military only, there are several organisations that have been doing this, the UN is one and there are other NGOs that are involved which actually work under the umbrella of the UN.

“So, as comprehensive efforts, these bodies need to be invited to support what the military is doing right now in a limited capacity in that regard.”

The chief of army staff said there was need for the police to take over strategic areas so it would enable the army concentrate on the mop up of the remnants of Boko Haram insurgents.

“We need more policemen deployed even in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Bama, Damasak, Gubio, Monguno and Baga and other towns where people have returned, they – police need to really take over,” Buratai said.

“Apart from the regular police, the Mobile Police also are key, we need them to be there. There are concerns all over that at this stage we really need the civil authority to come and take up their responsibilities fully.”

He added that the army was guided by laws, including the 1999 constitution which specified its own rules of engagement and international law on armed conflict in its operations.

“We know what we are doing, definitely we will not infringe on individual rights. We have our own constitutional role; we have our own rules of engagement which are in tandem with our constitution, in tandem with even the international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict,” he said.

“If, in course of our duty, someone feels that something has gone wrong contrary to what they believe in and they go beyond to call for arms embargo and denial of certain weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military, I think the government will address that appropriately.”

 

Source: The Cable

We’ve rescued over 7,000 civilians from Sambisa forest – Nigerian Army

The Nigeria Army says so far, it has rescued about 7,898 civilians from Sambisa forest, a stronghold of the Boko Haram sect in Borno state.

Lucky Irabor, theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, disclosed this during a press conference in Maiduguri, the state capital, on Wednesday.

Irabor also revealed that eight foreigners, including four Chadians, three Nigeriens and one Cameroonian were recently arrested.

He said troops have continued to record remarkable progress in the fight against insurgency.

“On the 7 February, troops killed 13 Boko Haram insurgents at  Sabarmari, Siraja Anzayi, at Chongodo village, while  arms and ammunition, vehicle and anti aircraft guns were recovered as well as  five women and children whom we suspected to be family members of Boko Haram,” he said.

“Nineteen Boko Haram terrorists were also killed at Butali Kura in Bulabulin axis and arms, ammunition were also recovered. List of terrorist names were also found one of the terrorist and four copies of the Holy Quran. During the operation, 59 women and children were rescued and are currently being profiled here at the theatre command.

“On the 22nd of February, troops along Damasak and Malamfatori also cleared 13 Boko Haram in an ambush operation.”

 

Source: The Cable

PHOTOS: Army to hold Weapons Championship in Sambisa Forest.

The Nigerian Army has begun preparations to hold the 2017 edition of its Weapons Championship inside the once dreaded Sambisa Forest.

 

In a statement on Wednesday by its spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the Army has begun construction of the range and  other facilities.

The statement said, “The Nigerian Army Engineers (NAE) Corps in a bid to actualize the directive of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, of holding this year’s Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship (NASAC 2017), in Sambisa Forest, Borno State, has mobilised to site and commenced access roads clearance and construction of range and other facilities.”

 

See photos below:

 

 

 

Lai: Having lost Sambisa, Boko Haram now set for media war.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says Boko Haram’s new strategy is to dominate the media by propagating lies.

The minister said this in a statement issued by Segun Adeyemi, his media aide, on Tuesday.

“Following the recovery of a treasure trove of materials from the decimated Boko Haram, the federal government has called on the media and the general public to be vigilant, saying the decimated group has shifted its strategy towards dominating the media space, propagating a perverted version of Shariah law and giving the impression that it is still holding territory,” he said.

In the statement, Mohammed appealed to Nigerians and the media to ensure that they did not “unwittingly provide the terrorists with the oxygen of publicity that they desperately need”.

He said the propaganda strategy was discovered from the material left behind by the insurgents after they were routed from their stronghold in Sambisa forest.

“The materials include documents, phones and computers that contained detailed information on the Boko Haram media and propaganda strategy. An analysis of the materials revealed Boko Haram’s training in videography as well as how they sought and received training from other terrorists groups on video recording and manipulation,” he said.

“The documents, written in Arabic, also outlined the media strategy that Boko Haram commanders should employ and how the surviving members should ensure the propagation of the Boko Haram doctrine using the social media.”

The minister said “the recovered material confirmed the announcement of a new media wing called ‘Wadi Baya’ (Clear Speech) by Boko Haram in an audio released by the group on 17 January, 2017, following its routing from Sambisa”.

“As Boko Haram refocuses its resources to media war and propaganda against the Nigerian people and state, we must all unite against terrorism by denying Boko Haram our platforms to propagate its ideology. Both the media and the citizens have important roles to play in complementing our armed forces, which are combining land and air resources to completely clear the vestiges of Boko Haram,” he added.

 

Source: The Cable

Sambisa, The Forest of Learning – By Buki Ponle

By now, it is crystal clear to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), or any other groups and individuals with similar perception, that government is not toying with the safety, lives and property of Nigerians. This is clearly evident in the latest search conducted for the missing Chibok school girls in the notorious forest called Sambisa.

Few days ago, the Federal Government, represented by the Minister of Information and Culture and that of Defence, arranged to join the Nigerian troops in the forest, in furtherance of efforts at finding the girls. They invited the advocacy group BBOG to come along.

On the eve of the trip, the Co-convener of the BringBackOurgirls (BBOG), Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, in an e-mail to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, indicated the interest of her members to join the search. The group, for reasons only known to it, however gave impractical conditions to join in the search of
the girls, according to reports.

However, government acceded to their demands, including the last-minute insistence by Ezekwesili that the Information Minister abandon the aircraft for government delegation and fly instead with BBOG members in another aircraft.

”Only Oby Ezekwesili could rightly decipher what she had in mind to have insisted that the minister should take such a last minute decision,” notes an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr Ebenezer Okoli.

”Prior to this trip, the group had staged a week-long rally in commemoration of the 1000th anniversary of the kidnap of Chibok girls, accusing government, among others, of reneging on the rescue of the remaining 195 girls, after it had secured the release of 21 of them.

”One need not be reminded of the human degradation, especially womanhood, in the senseless war being waged against Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorists, even in spite of heightened efforts by the Buhari administration to decimate them” he says.

The Sambisa forest, 60,000 sq. km., or 18 times the size of Lagos State, situated in the north eastern part of Nigeria, was once the pride of Borno indigenes because of its serenity, rich floral and fauna, but has turned evil with the habitation and vandalism of Boko Haram insurgents in the past eight years.

They have, however, substantially been smoked out by our gallant soldiers many of who have paid the supreme price for the love of the country, and at painful loss to their families and the nation.

Although the activity of the insurgents has been degraded, one’s blood turns chilly each time the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafia Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, reels out the number of casualty of officers and men who have laid down their lives in the struggle to liberate the country from insurgency.

These were also men born of women, with families and other dependants, but who are seldom talked about outside the military.

 

BBOG assumed global fame when it rose as a resonate voice of concern over the violence perpetrated against women and children, but more especially against the abducted girls. It became an advocacy movement right from April 2014 when the school girls were kidnapped.

A journalist, Simon Lambert, observes: ”with its recent activities, the utterances and demeanor of BBOG members, one is at pains to situate the group properly, with its apparent ‘for profit’ non-governmental organisation attitude.

”Even if some of its members are full time workers for the group, they should understand the workings of government and should defer to government position which has demonstrated enough transparency in efforts at rescuing the remaining Chibok girls. Government is not faceless, and those in charge of governance have blood running in their veins, have the female as wives, children and relations.”

A political scientist, Dr. Omobolaji Akerele, comments: ”Government does not divulge everything simultaneously, and a government which has shown sincerity of purpose, such as this, should at least be given the
benefit of the doubt.”

She continues: ”BBOG should not be perceived as caring for Chibok girls alone to sustain its international recognition. It should show concern for all the victims, including the IDPs, the fallen heroes and their families, as well as those who have been vegetated by BokoHaram’s bestial attacks.
”The use of cheap blackmail, appearing in holier-than-thou attitude, resort to unnecessary rallies and grandstanding are not the hallmark of a responsible advocacy movement, as interpretations are being given to the genuineness of such actions,” Akerele adds.

Some of the members have even been assuming presidential posturing and would not want to appear in related public meetings unless President Buhari is physically present.

Nonetheless, the trip has altered the perception of BBOG group which had apparently lost confidence in government efforts at battling corruption and rescuing the remaining trapped Chibok girls in that
dreaded forest.

Not until a gruesome day and night rounds of search sorties in Sambisa did Ezekwesili become convinced that government is doing its best, as witnessed in the professionalism and sophistication of the Nigerian Air Force, in executing the war against terror.

For instance, the Air Force now possesses many search planes as against just one, and the the deployment of many fighter jets as against just two before this administration. It is noteworthy that the Air Force has also flown 6,000 hours and spent N2 billion on fuel in searching for the girls.

Following the tour, BBOG testifies in its report, that ”the air component of the counter-insurgency is being prosecuted by a highly professional, capable, motivated and committed team of the Nigerian Air Force.”

Ezekwesili also saw the need for government to descend more heavily on looters of the national wealth, and those who have dis-empowered the military, for the terrorists to have initially gained an upper hand.

All told, more stakeholders must be prepared for Sambisa lessons, now a forest for learning, discipline, soberness and patriotism. In particular, those lawyers who placed money above national interest and would hold brief for the worst rogue as long as blood-money talks, should be the next in line for the Sambisa trip.

Ditto for the judge who compromises, because each perverted judgement of national interest could also mar the operation of the war against terror. With such visits, justice will be served expeditiously and without fear or favour.

*Ponle is a public affairs analyst

BBOG releases findings on Sambisa Forest tour

The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) delegation that went on tour of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State has made public its observations.

Led by its convener, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili in company of Aisha Yesufu, Ibrahim Usman, a representative of Chibok community, Dr. Manasseh Allen as well as local and foreign media organisations, the group embarked on the January 16 and 17, 2017 guided exercise led by the Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd) and his Information and Culture counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

In their report, the delegation confirmed interacting with the leadership of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), just as they expressed satisfaction at the personnel and equipment on ground.

“Furthermore, the presentation by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on the training and human capital development strategy of the force enabled us to appreciate its plans for the future. We saw that data, knowledge and information analysis play a significant role in the strategy of NAF prosecuting the air component of the war.

“Our exposure to the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform and the technical room of NAF indicated the level of adoption of technology in the prosecution of the war,” the report read in part.

The BBOG team also appreciated the synergy between NAF and the Nigerian Army, which prosecutes the ground component of the offensive.

The report added: “We were provided data and imagery evidence to show that the search for our Chibok girls and other abducted citizens is a daily activity by NAF. The data sheet showing the summary of all search operations was displayed with the following key data points over the last 18 months: Total missions to Sambisa General Area – 2,105, number of sorties— 3,534, time/hour of flight – 6,323, fuel cost: Over N2.4 billion.”

According to the group, the three-hour search flight on the ISR medium at 15,000 feet, provided members the opportunity to have a clear view of the Theatre of War in the once dreaded forest.

 

Source: Guardian

Camp Zairo in Sambisa Forest is like Boko Haram’s Aso Rock – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says Camp Zairo is to Boko Haram what Aso Rock means to Nigeria.

 

Mohammed said this at the Air Force Base in Yola, Adamawa state capital, during a briefing to conclude a day and night rounds of search of the missing girls in Sambisa.

 

Mansur Dan-Alli, minister of defence; Obiageli Ezekwesili, convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group; as well as selected local and foreign journalists participated in the search mission.

 

Mohammed noted that the capture of the camp was very crucial to defeating members of the sect.

 

“Camp Zairo might occupy probably one kilometre out of 60,000 kilometres expanse of Sambisa, but it is so crucial to us in this war,” he said.

 

“It is like imagining that there is a war and the Villa is captured. That is the essence of camp zairo.

 

“It is not the extent of physical expanse but that we struck at the very heart of insurgency and it does not mean the end of the campaign in Sambisa forest.”

 

Mohammed said the success recorded by the military in the theatre of war was helping to negotiate release of the remaining Chibok girls in captivity.

 

He recalled that a recently-held meeting nearly led to success, adding that the government would not rest on its oars in ensuring the return of all the missing girls and others in captivity.

 

“The negotiations are still on, but unfortunately unlike the search operations, we cannot take you along to the negotiation table,” he said.

 

“I want to assure you that these negotiations are going on but they are very complicated and delicate and shift from time to time.”

REPORT: Sambisa is massive. It’s 18 times the size of Lagos – Oby Ezekwesili

Oby Ezekwesili, co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls group, says Sambisa Forest, the hideout of the Boko Haram, is 18 times the size of Lagos state, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

 

Ezekwesili, who went on a tour of Sambisa with the Nigerian Airforce (NAF), said the forest is a vast expanse of land, and more has to be done to capturing the whole forest.

 

“Dreaded Sambisa is massive. Sixty thousand square kilometers. Eighteen times the size of Lagos State! All of Lagos is 3,345 square km,” she wrote on Twitter.

 

“Apparently, the Sambisa ‘general area’ as it’s called is some 85% of entire size of Borno State.”

 

 

She said the military had succeeded in capturing the capital spot of Boko Haram, but the search must continue.

 

“The famous Camp Zero in Sambisa? Well, it turns out that capturing Camp Zero is NOT equal to capturing Sambisa. It is just a spot in there.

 

“Capture of Camp Zero in Sambisa is akin to capturing the Capital City of a country. Camp Zero was the Capital SPOT of Boko Haram in Sambisa

 

“Capture of Camp Zero is significant but not cos of its SIZE. It is SIGNIFICANT because it USED TO BE the STRONGHOLD of the enemy in there.

 

“So, could our Chibok girls and other abducted citizens still [be] within the vast field of Sambisa other than Camp Zero? Yes. So, NAF searches on.”

 

Regarding the entire trip, she said “We came. We learned. Now we return. To stand! To demand!! ! Thanks everyone at Nigerian Air Force for all we learned”.

 

MMM, Sambisa and the boy died – By Reuben Abati

“Happy New Year, my brother”

“What do you mean happy new year, more than two weeks into the New Year. Have I not been in touch with you since January 1?”

“But for you the New Year has just started. Your January 1 was not on January 1”

“Looks like you have started taking something. I must inform your wife.”

“I say Happy New Year to you.”

“Okay, same to you.”

“You think I don’t know what you have been going through? Your wife told me you have not been yourself since those Mavrodi Mundia Moneybox people suspended their scheme. She specifically asked me to keep an eye on you.  But we thank God the MMM is back, 24 hours earlier than they promised.  Now, you can get your money back.”

“My brother, it is a lo-n-g story. This MMM thing has become a case of the more you hear, the less you understand. And to think I invested my children’s education savings. Everything.”

“What is the problem again? I hear you can get your money back, and MMM says they are ready to change the world.”

“I don’t know about changing the world, but let them change my sadness to joy by just returning my money, but now they say they can only pay a small amount per day and that those who invested big money like me should wait.”

“How much did you invest?”

“If I tell you the figure, you will know that the year is not new at all.”

“Tell me.”

“So you can go and tell your wife and your wife can tell my wife and the three of you can tell everybody. I just pray MMM does not mess me up, otherwise all of you won’t have anything to gossip about when you start looking for a casket.”

“Is it that bad?  Please don’t let it get to that stage. But I can assure you, if they mess you up, I will sue the hell out of them. I will get lawyers and sue them to court.”

“You will defend my rights after I am dead? Now, I see you are a very good friend indeed.”

“I am just trying to help. I almost invested in the MMM myself.”

“Let me ask you something.  What is a bitcoin?”

“Not too sure.”

“MMM says they will pay with bitcoins. I invested with Naira. They say they will pay me with coins, not with dollars, but coins. Ore mi, gba mi. Se kinni yi o ti fe di one chance bayi? And yet they are saying they want to change my world. Government should intervene and monitor the whole thing.”

“I won’t consider MMM the business of government.”

“Everything that has to do with the welfare of a citizen is the business of government.”

“If you decide to go and invest your money with money-doublers, why should government be bothered?”

“Government cannot allow anybody to spread frustration in any form. MMM should give me my money, not coins.”

“By the way, we should find out what a bitcoin is? We learn everyday.”

“I didn’t invest for research purposes. I invested for profit purposes.”

“But suppose the bitcoin is even better than the Naira. Somebody told me that bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, although he didn’t quite explain.”

“Ha. I am in trouble. So, I now have to carry dictionary over this MMM matter. Even a crypto something is now better than the Naira. God, pity your servants!”

“Just calm down.  We have enough people dying everyday. Don’t join the list. I am sure everything will be sorted out. While you are killing yourself over MMM, are you aware that some Nigerians are already investing in another Ponzi scheme?”

“What is that one?”

“It is called Swissgolden. They offer gold or cash profit.”

“I don’t want to hear about it. And you say government should not get involved? We are almost becoming a nation of desperate money-doublers.”

“Government should worry about more serious things, except of course someone sets out to commit a crime.”

“Nothing can be more serious.”

“Like the Southern Kaduna killings, for example”

“That is sad. Ethnic and religious violence has been a source of threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence. We need to build a nation first.”

“The Catholic Church says the casualty figure in Southern Kaduna so far is about 808.  Over 1, 422 houses, 16 churches, 19 shops and one primary school have been destroyed.  The challenge is how to prevent these things.”

“Too much politics in everything and that is why ordinary things become big things and so much tragedy is invited. Government must be pro-active.”

“That’s like saying nothing. I have heard that cliché too many times. The root of our national crisis is much deeper. Oftentimes the people themselves are the problem.”

“I hear in the Niger Delta, the people are also threatening to resume hostilities, shut down oil installations and destroy NDDC projects.”

“It is not the people. It is the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) with their ‘Operation Walls of Jericho’ and the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders (NDRC).  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has led a delegation to go and talk to them, particularly the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).  I think the resort to dialogue is wise.”

“I’ll like to see that too in Southern Kaduna, coming from the highest levels and I like the fact that the Federal Government is talking to the Bring Back our Girls Group and that for once they are willing to listen. Before May 2015, that group never wanted to listen to government. Now they are in Sambisa Forest.”

“I call it the BBOG Journey to the Sambisa Forest of a Thousand Daemons. When you go to a forest like that, you will have stories to tell.”

“I like the strategy. Get the protesters to help government sell its own story. Quite clever.”

“What if the strategy back-fires?”

“Oh, come on. It won’t.”

“You are always cynical. Thank God you are not in Tanzania where media cynicism of any sort is now a crime.”

“Under President John Magufuli, the bulldozer? Everyone has been praising him for fighting corruption and administrative opaqueness.”

“Magufuli is now bulldozing the media and free speech. Just the other day, he threatened Tanzanian journalists. According to him: ‘We will not allow Tanzania to be a dumping yard for inciting content. This will not happen under my administration”

“What?”

“They now have in Tanzania, The Media Services Act of 2016 which gives government officials the powers to shut down media houses and seize their printing machines.”

“That is even worse that that Nigerian Decree. Decree… Decree….”

“It is not from my mouth you will hear that one. Just be careful. Magufuli’s position is that journalists provoked him with their inciting content.”

“What is it with our leaders in Africa? In other words, Magufuli is saying he is a constituted authority.”

“Not a…he is the constituted authority.”

“One of these days, he too will just say, “Bring that boy here…Leave him…Who do you think you are talking to…I am the constituted authority.”

“You are quoting someone else now, not Magufuli.”

“African leaders sound alike when it comes to the use and abuse of power. You are right, I am quoting the Governor of Oyo State, Nigeria, Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) provoked him. They had the temerity to remind him that their school had been shut down for eight months. The Governor was so irritated, he sounded as if the students were disturbing him.

“The students were rude. Nigerian students don’t respect constituted authority. They don’t know how to address power.”

“Which authority? Is that why they should be tongue-lashed and shot at by the police?”

“I know the Governor.  One of the students must have said something nasty to him.  I got that much from his daughter’s alleged reaction.”

“Who is that?”

“The Governor’s daughter defending her dad.”

“What does she know about a university being shut down for eight months and students having to stay at home because government is suffering from a disease called lack of funds. This democracy sha.”

“Don’t worry yourself. It is not an African thing. In the United States, the President-elect’s daughter is going to be very powerful in his in-coming government. Her husband, Jared Kushner is already warming up to play a major role, and his only qualification for the job according to the father-in-law is that he is a good lad and a natural talent”

“That Donald Trump. He should stop disturbing everyone with his reckless comments.”

“I pray he doesn’t cause a Third World War.”

“With the way he has been provoking China.”

“Everything is under negotiation including One China”, says Trump.

“Nobody can negotiate that,” says China.

“And Trump picks up his phone and makes a long-distance call to the President of Taiwan, and China says that is a terrible insult”

“Trump definitely thinks his trip to the White House is one of his ‘You’re fired’ episodes. He is busy burning bridges.”

“Meanwhile, in Nicaragua…”

“What’s happening in Nicaragua?”

“The President has just been sworn in for a third term in office, with his wife as his Vice-President!  A husband and wife Presidency”

“You think that can happen in Nigeria?”

“You are not aware that in some states in Nigeria, family members are the ones who run the government?”

“Which state?”

“Go and find out for yourself?”

“So, how is our friend, Jim Obazee of the Financial Reporting Council (FRCN)?

“He broke the law”

“He was trying to enforce the law”

“He broke the law of the Psalms. Psalm 105: 15 – “do not touch my anointed ones/And do my prophets no harm.” He wanted to use a Governance Code to force men of God to observe term limits.”

“You are missing the point.”

“And to think he would start implementing the Code from his own church, where he is a pastor, with Daddy G.O. of the Redeemed Church.  So he means charity begins at home.”

“You don’t get it. Are you recommending nepotism? The whole point of the Code is that when religious groups become business entities, they must pay taxes and respect corporate governance rules.”

“Nigeria is a secular state. Government should not dabble into religious matters.”

“But government can dabble into the matter of El-Zakzaky and his movement. I beg.”

“The Bible says…”

“Yes, I know what the Bible says. Don’t bother.”

“We should pray for the people of Gambia and the President-elect Adama Barrow who is supposed to be inaugurated as President on January 19. Yahya Jammeh is still insisting he will not step down.  The people are already fleeing the country, Ministers and other government appointees have resigned, the whole world is angry, but Jammeh is sitting tight.

“You know something?”

“What?”

“In the midst of all this, while Adama Barrow is in exile in Senegal waiting for January 19, his eight-year old son was bitten by a dog last Sunday.  He was rushed to the hospital.  The boy died.

“Oh. Oh, Africa.”

Mild Drama At Airport As BBOG, Others Depart For Sambisa Tour

A mild drama ensued at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Monday as members of the Bring Back Our Girls Group arrived to join other delegates heading for the North East to witness first-hand the military’s ongoing search for the Chibok Girls.

After initially stating certain conditions upon which the it will accept the offer by the Federal Government to join the tour, the BBOG group yesterday rescinded its earlier decision not to join the tour following the rejection of the conditions by the government.

Upon arriving at the airport, members of the group were told that they will be flying in an aircraft with the selected local and international journalists joining the tour, while government functionaries will fly in another aircraft.

But leader of the group and former minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili rejected the arrangement. She insisted that the members must fly in the same aircraft with the Minister of Information who is also part of the delegation on the trip.

The BBOG members protested mildly until the minister agreed he will fly in the same aircraft that will convey the journalists and others on the trip.

The aircraft conveying the delegation departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at about 9am and they are expected to first arrive Yola from where a select group will join the NAF search mission to Sambisa.

Below are photos of the delegates at the airport.

JUST IN: FG rejects BBOG’s conditions for joining Sambisa tour

The federal government has rejected the conditions given by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement for embarking on a trip to Sambisa forest and some parts of the north-east.

In a letter dated January 11, the ministry of information and culture invited the movement to the north-east to see first hand efforts being made to rescue the Chibok girls.

But in a reply, the BBOG movement proposed a pre-tour meeting with the chief of army staff, chief of air staff and chief of defence staff before it would embark on a trip to the north-east.

They also asked Tukur Buratai to apologise for “endorsing” a group which labelled the movement to be embarking in “advocacy terrorism.”

However, in a letter dated January 14, the government said the trip could not be postponed.

It said the request for a meeting with certain top officials of the army and demanding an apology were irrelevant to its request for the BBOG to join in the search mission.

“Thank you for your letter, dated Jan. 13, which is in response to ours of Jan. 11, requesting that we change the date of the proposed guided tour of the north-east to accommodate a pre-tour meeting between your organisation and some top officials of the federal government,” the letter signed by Lai Mohammed, the information minister, read.

“We have also noted the conditions you gave for embarking on the trip which include the said pre-tour meeting and the retraction of some remarks allegedly made by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. – Gen. Tukur Buratai, which the #BBOG finds to be slanderous.

“We regret, however, to inform you that we are unable to postpone the trip as scheduled.

“We hope that the BBOG will drop its conditions and join the trip which shows the commitment of the federal government to securing freedom for the Chibok girls and its transparency in handling the issues of the girls.”

The government said payment for the satellite downlink streaming of the mission had been made for the day and shifting the date will require another round of booking to secure such a slot.

It said apart from BBOG members invited, local and international journalists had been invited for the trip, while some preparations had been made by the military.

Frenchman Reportedly Captured In Sambisa Is A Military Mechanic Specializing In APCs

The mysterious white man captured by Nigerian soldiers during last week’s storming of Boko Haram’s headquarters in the Sambisa Forest is a Frenchman and he specializes in repairing and unlocking armored personnel vehicles and other fighting equipment, Daily Trust learnt from authoritative military sources yesterday. The white man’s identity is being concealed by the Federal Government and military authorities for diplomatic reasons, the sources also said.

Defense Headquarters has been silent on the development since the news broke last Friday, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari announced that   Boko Haram’s last stronghold in the Sambisa forest, Borno State had been overrun by troops. Soldiers who took part in the operation told our correspondent yesterday that a white man was actually arrested in the Sambisa forest and that he has been providing “credible information” to military authorities. A source said, “He was arrested along the Bama axis of the Sambisa forest and agreed to give vital information provided he would be spared. I learnt that he is from France but authorities do not want to make his real identity known for diplomatic reasons…They  don’t want to jeopardize the success recorded.” Although some sources only said the captured white man is “from Western Europe,” Daily Trust learnt that he is actually a Frenchman. All Nigeria’s neighbours in the North East, namely Cameroon, Niger Republic and Chad are French speaking.

The French embassy in Nigeria did not respond to email and text message sent to it for comment yesterday.
How top officers led Sambisa offensive
The one month long military offensive that led to the capture of Sambisa Forest last Thursday was led by “the best hands” in the Nigerian Army and Air Force, sources close to the operation told Daily Trust yesterday. Before the renewed offensive to reclaim the dreaded forest where Boko Haram fighters held sway since 2013, officers between the ranks of Lieutenants, Captains and Majors normally led operations, sources said. This time around, more senior officers led the operation on all fronts during the final onslaught. It was gathered that the officers, besides various trainings they obtained at home, have been trained abroad and had participated in serious military operations.

The 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 sq mi) vast Sambisa Forest had been the nightmare of the Nigerian security forces, including their foreign allies, who provided various security reports over the years. It was gathered that some of the fighting troops were mobilized with light rocket propelled grenades [RPGs], weapons they did not use previously.  The light RPGs, according to one of our sources, could be carried on by soldiers on their shoulders for long distances because of their light weight and were used against far flung targets.

“With the exception of one major of the Nigerian Army, all the commanding officers that led the 4,200 troops into the Sambisa Forest are of the rank of Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel,” a soldier who participated in the operation said. He said “the Bama axis was led by a Colonel who viciously decimated many Boko Haram fighters. Together with his troops, he captured Alafa 1, 11 and 111 in the Sambisa Forest and freed over 1,000 people. He also captured nearly 500 suspects, mostly men who are being interrogated for having links with the Boko Haram.”

According to him, “some of the suspects are claiming that they were forcefully conscripted into the violent group while others have admitted that they belong to the group.” Another source said the Konduga/Aulari axis of the Sambisa Forest was captured by a daring army Major. “This Major is one of the heroes in the Nigerian Army. He was very close to the late Lieutenant Colonel Abu Ali of blessed memory. He knows the Sambisa Forest very well and was therefore directed to approach the forest through the infamous Gate One,”the source said. He added, “The Ngurosoye axis of the Sambisa Forest was led by a Lieutenant Colonel who is also a fearless and versatile officer. His 151 Battalion is known as Blocking Force. His troops recovered many AK47 rifles of fleeing Boko Haram insurgents and they also freed many women and children.”

The real operation
Sources said during the planning to re-take Sambisa Forest, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. General Tukur Buratai frequented Maiduguri almost on daily basis. “Sometimes he passed the night there (in Maiduguri) and sometimes he went back to Abuja. He personally commanded the general operation,” an officer who craved for anonymity said. He said radar with monitors was mounted at the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army and everything, including troop movement; logistics, ground operation and aerial reconnaissance both day and night were closely monitored with precision.

He said, “The close monitoring from Maiduguri helped a great deal in reducing mistakes. This gave the troops the confidence to relentlessly march on during operations. The fact that the mine detectors deployed to the Sambisa forest also demobilized all the bombs planted by the insurgents gave our troops added impetus. The mine detectors normally detonated most of the IEDs with ease and also cleared the terrain for armoured vehicles to move freely.”

The source that added some Boko Haram commanders and foot soldiers who were arrested long ago and “de-radicalized” were also imbedded in the operation. “The repentant insurgents, some members of the civilian JTF and local vigilantes know the Sambisa Forest very well, far better than the maps we used in the operation and therefore, they assisted greatly in helping us to locate hideouts. Also, sophisticated fighter jets and drones that have capacity to monitor things as far as away as 600 meters were deployed to the Sambisa forest and worked day and night,” he said.

The fall of ‘Camp Zero’
A military officer told our correspondent that this was not the first time attempt made to capture “Camp Zero” in Sambisa Forest where the factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau used as his hide out on different occasions. “This is the second time Camp Zero is taken. The first was during the JTF (Joint Task Force) in June 2013 before it (JTF) was disbanded and the area was lost completely,” the officer said.
He said despite the success recorded, there is worry among the military high command because some of the things expected to be recovered at the building were not found. “It is likely they (Boko Haram) are somewhere because they moved away with their equipment and prized possessions, including the Chibok girls in possession of Shekau group,” he said.

He said there were other dreaded cells that have been deserted by the Boko Haram terrorists, such as the ones in Kareto and Gudumbali at the height of offensive last year and another one in Kukawa which was reclaimed this year. It was learnt that while some of the Chibok girls and other captives are with the Shekau camp, many of them are with the Mamman Nur faction, led by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, son of the group’s late Mohammed Yusuf. They are suspected to be held in cells in northern Borno State.

“Camp Zero has for a long time been an objective for our troops but it is not the end of Sambisa in the true sense of the crisis. Boko Haram terrorists have been trained in the art of war, so it is likely they moved away for tactical reasons,” he said. The source said the COAS, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole as well as the GOCs of the army’s 3, 7 and 8 Divisions and other key Army Headquarters officers held a marathon meeting on December 24 and continued meeting yesterday on the operations in the North East. “They had a break on the 25th because of Christmas and they went to open the roads from Maiduguri to Damasak and to Baga.

Their main concern in the meeting is the disappearance of Boko Haram leaders with their equipment and lack of trace of the Chibok girls,” the officer said. Sources said beside the equipment found there, Boko Haram fighters had raided many workshops and laboratories in schools around the Sambisa Forest in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and had fabricated fighting equipment and chemicals with the facilities they carted away.

There is controversy as to how Camp Zero actually looked like. While some soldiers that participated in the operation said it has two underground buildings and tunnels as well as hardware and equipment for the training of the disbanded National Guards, some officers told our correspondent that the place was actually inherited from the Sambisa Game Reserve.

“The National Guard were to train there but were never there. A team went to inspect the place in the 80s but the movement and training did not hold. The solid structure there belonged to the forest management authority,” he said.

Nigerian Army Arrests 40 Foreigners After Fall Of Sambisa Forest

More than 40 foreigners have been arrested in the last one week, following the fall of the dreaded Sambisa Forest, The Nation has learnt.

The profiling of the foreigners has started to determine whether or not they were working in cahoots with Boko Haram insurgents, who are fleeing their former stronghold.

The military has blocked all known entry and exit points to Sambisa Forest to hem in the remnants of the insurgents.

According to a military source, the identities of the foreigners and their missions in Sambisa Forest will not be revealed until after a thorough screening has been completed.

Intelligence officers are profiling the foreigners, who are suspected to be providing “back-up” for Boko Haram.

The source said: “”In the last one week since we launched massive operations in Sambisa Forest,  we have arrested over 40 foreigners.

“We will come up with the details later after the profiling of these suspects. They are all being debriefed. But we discovered that there were so many foreigners in the midst of Boko Haram.

“We have also rescued  a lot of people who are being screened too.”

Responding to a question, the source explained the significance of the military routing of the insurgents in Sambisa.

He said the troops’ success was no fluke.

He added: “As for the operations in Sambisa Forest, our gallant troops have successfully taken over Camp Zero and Camp S (Shape) which are the headquarters of Boko Haram.

“The success of the operations is significant because there is no habitation beyond these areas in Sambisa Forest. The area is about 66,000 sq kilometres and there are so many parts uninhabited.

“Many insurgents, including their leaders, were killed and many were captured. Many insurgents are now fleeing. The situation now is that Boko Haram insurgents have been dispersed and dislocated.”

On the fate of the remaining Chibok girls, the source said: “The fleeing Boko Haram insurgents must have relocated them from Sambisa Forest but we are already hunting for them.”

Director of Defence Information Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said: “The operation in Sambisa Forest is still ongoing. Troops are not relenting. We are now all over the place. We’ll ensure no entry to Sambisa Forest; no exit.”

“We have advised Nigerians to be wary of fleeing insurgents who may likely disguise.”

A source in the Department of State Services (DSS) yesterday said the invasion of Sambisa Forest had entered the second phase, which is the pursuit of the fleeing insurgents.

The source, who admitted that the operations in Sambisa were both intelligence-driven and military onslaughts, said the elimination of the insurgents from the forest was 90 per cent completed.

The security chief added: “We have finished almost 90 per cent of the job with Boko Haram. We are now in the second phase which is the most difficult. We are pursuing the fleeing Boko Haram insurgents.

“The good thing is that we prepared for this fallout (the fleeing of the insurgents) long before the takeover of Sambisa Forest. We are trained professionals to curtail the effects of Boko Haram insurgency, especially the fallout of routing them out.

“We are apprehending the fleeing insurgents. Even yesterday, we took some of them in.”

JUST IN: “We Have Won The War Against Boko Haram, We Need To Win The Peace” – Army

The Nigerian Army has declared that the war against the Boko Haram insurgents group has been won.

 

Theatre commando of the Operation Lafiya Dole, the military operation in the north east, Major General Lucky Irabor stated this at a press briefing in Maiduguri, Borno State on Wednesday.

 

He however said Nigeria still needs to win the peace despite winning the war against the insurgents.

 

Given details on how Nigerian troops captured camp zero in Sambisa Forest, said tactical support from the air force aided ground troops in the capture of the forest.

 

He displayed the Boko Haram flag and the holy book left behind by the fleeing terrorists which he described as the symbol of authority of the leadership of the group.

 

While calling on Nigerians to report any suspected member of the Boko Haram group living within their midst, Irabor called on information managers to give adequate support to the activities of the military.

 

Details later…

Army arrests Frenchman who repairs Boko Haram’s equipment in Sambisa

A French man, who was captured in Sambisa forest during the invasion of Boko Haram’s stronghold by the Nigerian soldiers, is currently in the custody of the army.

According to Daily Trust, the suspect has been identified as a French citizen.

Until his arrest, he specialised in repairing and unlocking armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and other fighting equipment of the insurgents.

The newspaper said the man’s identity was being concealed by the federal government and military authorities for diplomatic reasons.

“He was arrested along the Bama axis of the Sambisa forest and agreed to give vital information provided he would be spared,” a soldier, who took part in the operation, was quoted as saying.

“I learnt that he is from France but authorities do not want to make his real identity known for diplomatic reasons…They  don’t want to jeopardize the success recorded.”

Ahead of the clearance of the forest, the military reportedly mobilised troops with light rocket propelled grenades and weapons they did not use previously.

Quoting another source, the paper said the light RPGs could be carried on by soldiers on their shoulders for long distances because of their light weight and were used against far-flung targets.

Sambisa, a 60,000 square kilometres, had been the nightmare of security forces, including their foreign allies, who provided assistance over the years.

“What concerns hungry Nigerians with tales of Sambisa?” – Fayose to FG

Although commendations have been pouring in for the federal  government over the military’s conquest of Sambisa forest, Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state, is wondering the effect of the development on Nigerians who are hungry.

Describing statements made on dislodging of the sect from their stronghold as diversionary, Fayose asked the current administration to proffer solutions to the hardship in the land.

He alleged that the country had become “directionless”, and that Nigerians were more desirous of hearing about the defeat of hunger.

“It has become predictable that whenever Nigerians cry of the pains and sufferings they are going through, the federal government will come with stories like: ‘20 Chibok girls found’, ‘$1 billion found in Mr A, B or C bedroom’, ‘Boko Haram technically defeated’, ‘We have captured Sambisa forest’, etc just to divert attention,” Fayose said in a statement issued on his behalf by Lere Olayinka, his spokesman.

“What Nigerians are now desirous of hearing from the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government is the defeat of hunger and untold hardship ravaging the country and not recycled stories of defeat of Boko Haram insurgents, which is as usual, aimed at diverting the attention of Nigerians from the fact that there is ravaging hunger at this time of the year.

“It is painful that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has become directionless either due to the cluelessness of the president or his old age that has foisted a purposeless leadership on the country.

“This year’s Christmas is the worse in the history of Nigeria. People cannot afford to celebrate and enjoy themselves due to the hardship caused by the APC government. To make matters worse, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also created artificial scarcity of cash, such that people could not access their hard earned money in the banks as most banks in the country do not have cash to pay their customers.

“Like I have maintained, the main issue confronting Nigerians now is hunger and hunger does not speak the language of political propaganda that is being used by the APC led federal government. It is therefore no longer about diversionary news, it is about preventing Nigerians from dying of hunger.”

Fayose said for the country to move forward, Buhari “must change his attitude from a vindictive military dictator to a civilian president of all Nigerians”.

He said the “cabal in the presidency has hijacked the president and his government”, and is now running the country aground

“The only solution to the myriad of problems facing the country is for those holding power in Abuja to face the sad reality that it was the hard stance of the president, his statements against Nigeria and its people both at home and abroad coupled with his demonstration of hatred against some sections of the country and desperation to crush his perceived enemies that led us to where we are today,” he said.

“It was the president that went to foreign countries to de-market Nigeria by calling all Nigerians thieves and dishonest people. He was the one who created atmosphere of economic and political instability in the country by his acts of nepotism and vindictiveness?

“They are not running the economy of Nigeria by the open participation of Nigerians but by some cabal, who see themselves as superior to others. By their failure to involve those who know more than them, they have succeeded in creating unemployment instead of three million jobs that they promised Nigerians per year. They have taken Nigeria back to the Stone Age and it will take several years for the country to recover, if it will ever recover.”

Nigeria Army begins road construction to Sambisa Forest.

Nigeria Army has started the construction of road network to Sambisa to ease troops operations in mopping up Boko Haram insurgents in the forest.

 

Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, stated this during a press conference at the Maimalari cantonment in Maiduguri.

 

“We have embarked on roads construction within the Sambisa forest to open up the area and also ease our operations in within the theatre.

 

“Construction of the roads will ease fighting troops in their effort to mop up the Boko Haram insurgency from their hideout,” the major general said.

 

He called on individuals and corporate organisations to support the military, as everything could not be left to government.

 

Such support was essential in reviving the economic development of the north-east, he said.

 

“I also urge the general public to continue to support the military in the north-east through the provision of useful information and not to follow the ways of some media outfit that were bent to bring down the military.”

Nigerian Army announces rescue of 605 women, children from Sambisa Forest

The Nigeria Army on Wednesday said it had rescued additional 605 women and children during its operation in Sambisa forest.

 

The Theatre Commander, Leo Irabor, stated this during a press conference at the headquarters of the 7 Division of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri.

 

Mr. Irabor, a Major General, said that troops have continued to record remarkable progress in the fight against counter terrorism operation in Sambisa forest.

 

He added that “69 male adults, 180 females, 227 male children and 129 female children, were rescued during the operation between December 7 and December14.

 

“The victims are in our custody for further investigation and interrogation.

 

“On the operation, our troops are determined to wipe out the terrorists from their hideout. I can tell you that the counter terrorism operation is already yielding positive results.”

Boko Haram: U.S. Lawmakers Okay Five-year Strategy To Assist Nigeria

The United States House of Representatives has passed a legislation directing the country’s Secretaries of State and Defence to jointly develop a five-year strategy to assist Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram.

The measure is also aimed at providing assistance to members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and international partners offering support in counter-terrorism operations against the Boko Haram sect in the region.

According to reports, the legislation, passed by a voice vote, was introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

They expressed optimism that it would help combat Boko Haram specifically. The strategy is also aimed at addressing the crushing humanitarian and educational crises that Boko Haram had created.

“Boko Haram captured my attention and the headlines when the terrorist group kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from their dormitory rooms 968 days ago. For most of the world, the Chibok girls symbolised the horror that is Boko Haram, but the damage its members have wrought goes far deeper,” Congresswoman Wilson, wa quoted as saying in a statement.

Collins, who authored and originally introduced the bill, averred that Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to ISIS and it continued to commit terrible acts of brutal violence against civilians in Nigeria as well as in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

Collins, describing Wilson as a willing and able partner in the effort to pass the bipartisan legislation, explained that it requires a five-year strategy to pursue Boko Haram and it would bolster efforts of the U.S. throughout the region.

Any support from the United States will be welcomed by the Nigerian government, even though heightened counter-terrorism operations have decimated the terrorists, who still carry out suicide attacks on soft targets.

The military said few days ago that it has commenced final rescue operations in Sambisa Forest, a safe haven for the terrorists that have forced over two million persons out of their homes in their over seven years push for an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the region.

We Are Not Sure Chibok Girls Are In Sambisa- Air chief

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, says the Nigerian Air Force has no intelligence on whether the Chibok girls are in Sambisa Forest or not.

Abubakar, who spoke during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Saturday, however, said the NAF was working round  the  clock to rescue the girls and other Nigerians abducted by Boko Haram.

The NAF chief also commented on the operation of the force in the South-South, saying the air force would not bomb Niger Delta.

When Abubakar was asked if the air force had any intelligence on whether Chibok girls were in the Sambisa Forest or not, he said, “Honestly we don’t. That is the truth of the matter. Even if you see women that are dressed in hijab, how are you sure they are women; that they are not men? It is only when you get there and they remove the hijab that you now realise that they are men and they have their rifles.

“There is no credible intelligence that will specifically tell you that these girls are here.”

He said the air force flew its planes daily with the hope of sighting the Chibok girls, adding that the military, like other Nigerians, was passionate about them.

He said about 50 per cent of the NAF flying missions in counter-insurgency operations were devoted to Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance.

According to him, the ISR is aimed at rescuing the Chibok girls and other Nigerians abducted by the sect.

He said, “There is no day that the sun rises and sets that we do not go out hoping to see these girls. From January this year to August 17, we flew 2,600 hours.   About 50 per cent of that was Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance.

 “We are hoping that through the intelligence, we will be able to capture the movement of those girls; we will be able to locate what we consider legitimate targets.”

He dismissed the latest Boko Haram video, where the sect displayed some girls, which it claimed were killed by military bombardment, as cheap propaganda.

Abubakar explained that there was no way bodies of people killed by bombardment could be intact as shown in the video.

Read More:

http://punchng.com/arent-sure-chibok-girls-sambisa-forest-air-chief/

No Retreat For The Military In Sambisa Forest – CDS

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, on Wednesday reaffirmed that the military would intensify its offensive in the Sambisa Forest until the area was completely rid of terrorists.

Speaking at the inauguration of some projects at Navy Town, Ojo, Lagos, he said that the “Operation Crack Down” recently launched into Sambisa was yielding positive results.

”The operation is progressing and part of the benefits was the rescue of the two Chibok girls.

”The operation is ongoing and we will continue until we rid that place of all terrorists,” he said.

Olonisakin said that Boko Haram had been decimated, adding that it had become increasingly difficult for the insurgents to carry out their nefarious acts.

”We will continue to step up our game with the multinational task force,” he said.

He commended the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ibas, on the projects which were initiated to improve the welfare of personnel.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the projects inaugurated by the CDS were the refurbished Intensive Care Unit at Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo, as well as residential and administrative buildings.

 

(NAN)

Army Begins Massive Operation In Sambisa Forests

The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that it had commenced large scale operations to smoke out Boko Haram terrorists from their Sambisa forest hideout in Borno.

 

Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theater Commander Operation Lafiya Dole said this while briefing newsmen in Maiduguri.

“I want to inform you that troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole are conducting operations in the heart of Sambisa as we speak.

“The troops are deep into the forest to smoke out Boko Haram terrorists,” Irabor said.

He said that the troops were led by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 division of the Nigerian Army Maiduguri Brig.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu.

“In fact the GOC 7 division is leading the operations,” Irabor said declining to give further details.

He said that the troops had also recorded tremendous successes against the terrorists in the last couple of days.

“Following a tip-off, troops intercepted four female suicide bombers approaching from Sambisa in the general area of Jimini-Bolari village. Two unexploded Improvised Explosive Devices on the suicide bombers were safely detonated by our own team.

“Also, a suspected terrorists training camp at Mudallah llage in Dikwa Local Government Area was raided by troops on April 16.

“Consequently, troops made contact and killed a suspected terrorists leader and six others while capturing five of them, during the raid, five vehicles and several terrorists flags were destroyed.”

Irabor said that the troops also rescued over 1,000 civilians held captive by the terrorists.

He said on April 3, troops also launched a fighting patrol to Boboshe, Garna, Kyare, Ginba and Ajiri villages where they recovered eight industrial gas cylinders and five regular gas cylinders, being used in bomb making, at a primary school.

He said during the operation three terrorists were captured while four motor cycles, three bicycles, a solar panel and two containers of liquid herbicides were destroyed.

In another operation on April 28 troops in the general area of Bogoro, Duguno 1, 2 and 3 encountered and cleared some terrorists elements around Mmbaraka.

“The troops proceeded to Jadda village where they engaged and killed four terrorists. The patrol team also discovered a big pit where the terrorists used for dumping their victims to die and rot.

“The patrol team later freed some hostages and recovered an AK-47 rifle, 30 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 12 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, 14 Dane guns, a motorcycle, two solar panels, 120 liters of diesel, some packets of panadol and a food storage facility.

“During the operation, one of the troops suffered gunshot wound and was evacuated for medical treatment. I am glad to state that he is in stable condition and responding to treatment,” Irabor said.

 

(NAN)

Boko Haram Terrorists Flee As Airforce, Army Bombard Sambisa

Aftermath of intensified Airforce bombardment and Army artillery fire on remaining hideouts of Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa Forest, the remnants of the insurgents have fleed the forest in bid to escape. Confirming the development in a statement, Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col Sani Usman said,

“This is to inform the public that due to aerial bombardment and concerted efforts of the ground troops; and facing imminent annihilation, Boko Haram terrorists have been deserting Sambisa forest in droves. Usman said that as they are fleeing the military bombardment, the terrorists are trying to disperse to various parts of the country.

“The cowards are running away from their well noted enclave in Sambisa forest for their lives.

“Consequently it becomes necessary to inform the public, especially well meaning Nigerians, to be more vigilant and security conscious.

“The public are please requested to be observant and report any suspicious persons or group of persons to the military or any of the security agencies to enable timely detection and apprehension of the fleeing insurgents before they mingle with the society and commit havoc.

“We would like to reassure the public of the confidentiality of the information provided and reiterate our commitment to the clearance of the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists” the statement added.

Credit: vanguardngr

Air Force Bomb Boko Haram Camp In Borno

The Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jets have pummeled Boko Haram positions at their camp at Iza, Borno state which made the terrorist scamper into the Sambisa forest.

The air attacks were followed by a ground offensive by troops of 121 Task Force Battalion who consolidated on the gains of the air strikes to flush out the remnants of the insurgents and destroyed
their camps.

The Daily Post, citing a statement by Ayodele Famuyiwa, the air force spokesman, reports that the offensive was supported by the Mi-35 Helicopter gunships which provided close air support for the advancing troops.
Famuyiwa added that a Beechcraft aircraft also supported the operation with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
“The combined air and land operation against the Boko Haram sect was conducted during the early hours of yesterday – 8 March 2016.
“The fall of Iza and its liberation by own troops further attests to the recent gains recorded by the military in the combined efforts to rid the country of the menace posed by the religious sect,” the statement added.
In recent times, Nigerian security forces gave recorded strings of victories against Boko Haram fighters. On Thursday, March 3, troops attacked the spiritual power base of the insurgents at the Alagarno forest, Borno state.
In another raid, soldiers on a clearance operations of the remnants of Boko Haram insurgents at Kumshe in Borno state made startling discoveries of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making factory, rockets and high claibre ammunitions.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Onyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs has clarified media reports quoting President Muhammadu Buhari as disclosing that Nigeria had joined the Islamic coalition against terror under the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on Monday, March 7, Onyeama said Nigeria’s membership of the coalition had nothing to do with giving Nigeria an Islamic identity, Daily Trust reports.
He explained that the objective of the coalition was to prove that terrorists were not representing Islam.

Air Force Strikes Terrorists’ Vehicle Workshops, Fuel, Ammunition Dumps In Sambisa

The Nigerian Air Force says its alpha jets have successfully carried out air strikes and destroyed the Boko Haram’s vehicle workshops, fuel and ammunition dumps all within the Sambisa forest.

According to the Director, Air Force Public Relations and Information, Commodore Dele Alonge, this is part of a renewed drive to further degrade the Boko Haram terrorists’ assets.

He said that the effort was as a result of a painstaking Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) efforts by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and ATR-42 platforms.

According to him, the air strikes on the insurgents would pave the way for the final onslaught by the land forces to meet President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to bring insurgency in the north-east to an end by December.

Credit: ChannelsTV

Solar Panels, Other Targets Bombarded In Sambisa By NAF Alpha Jets

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), in its bid to sustain the ongoing air assault against the Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa Forest, has continued to hit vital targets with a view to decimating the capability and resolve of the members of the sect to continue to fight and cause havoc.

This was contained in a statement signed on Wednesday by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Dele Alonge.

Alonge said the most recent success was the attack on the terrorist targets in Ngoshe and Pulka by the Alpha Jets providing close air support to own ground forces.

He also revealed that the aerial bombardment was instrumental to the recapture of the strategic boundary town of Gamboru-Ngala by the Nigerian army.

“The targets, which include solar panels believed to be used by the sect for generating electricity within the Sambisa Forest, were hit during the recent take-over of Gamboru-Ngala by own troops,” he said.

Read Morethisdaylive

Many Terrorists Killed As Troops Lay Ambush In Sambisa

Following the sustained air and ground offensive against remnants of Boko Haram terrorists still holed up in bunkers and other hideouts inside Sambisa Forest by airforce fighter aircraft, Nigerian troop’s yesterday succeeded in downing scores of the terrorists who attempted to flee the forest into neighbouring communities.

In this regard, Troops of 26 Task Force Brigade in Gwoza, Borno State, on Tuesday evening engaged Boko Haram terrorists fleeing Sambisa forest as unrelenting aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force continued.

According to a statement signed by Acting Director, Army Public relations, Col. Sani Usman, “The fleeing terrorists in 7 Pick-up vans and some motorcycles mounted with assorted weapons such as Rocket Propelled Grenades and Anti-Aircraft Guns were decisively dealt with, killing quite a number of them”.

“The troops also destroyed their vehicles, weapons and motorcycles. They also recovered a vehicle, 1 motorcycle and 2 AK47 riffles and large quantities of 7.62mm NATO and 12.7mm ammunitions”.

“Troops have intensified their patrols and offensive actions against the terrorists in the area” he added.

Creditvanguardngr

Read Horrific Accounts Of Boko Haram Victims Rescued From Sambisa

Rescued  victims of  Boko Haram were moved from Sambisa forest  to the Malkohi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp on the outskirts of Yola, Adamawa State  capital. The victims, women and children, were driven into the camp amid tight security. They arrived the camp after almost three days journey which forced the victims to be exhausted. Many of them, especially kids, could not alight from the vehicles that brought them. They had to be assisted by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, the Red Cross, the military and other agencies in the camp.

The children looked  malnourished. But more worrisome  is the fact that many of them  had gunshot injuries. The journey from Sambisa to Yola lasted over 72 hours owing to many reasons. One, the military had to do a  mop up of the  roads in the forest to clear landmines believed to have been planted  in the dreaded forest by the fleeing insurgents. A  military bulldozer had to be used to clear the roads for the vehicles conveying the victims to have access to the road linking Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Another reason for the three-day journey as adduced by the military, was the fact that the trip had to be broken into phases to reduce the stress for the former hostages.

Lami Musa, a 27-year old housewife, who gave birth to a  baby a day before the victims left Sambisa,  was among the 275 victims who survived the long drive.

On arrival in the camp, the victims were treated  to  a  taste of Nigerian foods. Their states of origin cut across the three north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe worst affected  by the Boko Haram attacks. They were captured from different remote areas of the three states during occasional Boko Haram raids.

The victims narrated how they were captured, how they were moved to Sambisa forest, their horror  in the hands of the insurgents and how they regained freedom.

Mrs. Lami Musa, a mother of four who gave birth to a baby girl barely three days before the military moved her and others from Sambisa enroute to the IDPs camp, told her story. Her husband, an artisan, was killed in their Damboa town when the insurgents came calling. She narrated: “I was two months pregnant then when the insurgents invaded the town at about 6pm one Monday in August  2014. As sporadic gunshots enveloped the town, able bodied men, including our husbands, among others, fled to the bush. The invaders ordered us to follow them. The trip which some of us made in vehicles while others trekked took us almost two days to get to their camp”.

Another victim, Mrs. Talatu Maina, an indigene of Madagali, Adamawa State, claimed she, along with many others was abducted in September last year along the borders of Borno and Adamawa State. She said they were returning from a local market when they were ambushed and driven straight into  Sambisa forest.

“The male passengers among us were slaughtered instantly. On reaching Sambisa forest, we met hundreds of other women and children”, she stated. Talatu disclosed that life in the Boko Haram enclave was simple in the sense that the captives were directed to choose their leaders in all fields of human endeavour. “We had our leaders in Islamic affairs, food and general welfare of the camp”, she disclosed.

Mrs. Hannatu, also a returnee, said: “We did the cooking ourselves from the corn provided by Boko Haram. The corns were normally ground, but not filtered, even as the only soup was the local ‘Mia Kuka’  or leaves of baobab tree. We  ate twice daily, except our little children who  ate at random depending on availability of food”.

Commenting on how Boko Haram people conducted themselves, Mrs. Hannatu, a mother of six, confessed that where they were camped was not close to the residence of the Boko Haram leaders. She said there  was a gap of about five to six kilometers between their camp and the Boko Haram leaders residence, adding, “Only gunmen between the ages of 12-14 years stayed with us round the clock as our guards”..

“We only saw the leaders in their motor and motorcycle convoy each time they were going or returning from operations. If they were going for operation, they will stop at a distance. The boys guarding us will run to them for update on our upkeep. Then they will zoom off, their vehicles leaving behind a thick dust. We will only see them again when they are returning from operation; this time around, foodstuff confiscated from the operation will be dropped for us,” she explained.

She disclosed that while cooking in the daytime, they used  underground kitchens to prevent the smoke from attracting the bombardment, of the Nigeria military jet fighters.

Another victim, Rachael Habila was kidnapped from Buni Yadi, Yobe State and taken into captivity by the insurgents the day the Government College there was attacked leading to the killing of over 50 students.

Rachael said she did not know she will survive in the camp because of her religious background as a Christian. “When I joined them in the camp, about five or six of us that were of the Christian faith were gathered in one place and directed that we should either embrace Islam or be killed”, the 40-year-old school teacher said.

“We had no option than to embrace Islam and there and then we were provided with Hijab and an Islamic teacher was attached to us. The basic teaching of Islam and how to perform the five daily prayers was our major pre-occupation”.

“Along the line, two of our mates were no longer seen and we continued to puzzle among ourselves that what happened to them will surely happen  to us. But, thank God, we are alive in the IDPs camp today to tell our experience”.

She added that while converting non-Muslims, one of the leaders of the sect whose responsibility it was to do that will only tell you that your name has been changed with the pronouncement of the Muslim name for you and those around him will chorus ‘ ALLAHUAKBAR’, meaning God is great.

Racheal confessed that victims were not  arbitrarily tortured, except if one violated one rule or the other. “But if an  offense to them, which you might not know, is committed, the punishment, which involves flogging, among others, is normally severe and painstaking and, at times, it involves slaughtering of the people depending on the magnitude of the offense to them”, she stated.

Salamatu Musa, 23, was only six months old as a housewife when she was taken away from a  village in Damboa  local government area of Borno State. She said she was kidnapped during a midnight attack on their village by the insurgents during the month of Ramadan last year, adding that they were up to 22 women and over 50 children that were taken into captivity that  night.

According to her, she was two months pregnant when the incident occurred and that she had given birth to a baby girl who is almost four months now and she has not yet been named.

Asked why the baby had not yet been named, Salamatu replied that it should be done by the father of the girl, if he is still alive, pointing out that the naming ceremony will be done if eventually she is back home from the IDPs camp.

Asked whether she was aware that Nigerians went to the polls to elect their leaders recently, she replied that all of them in the Boko Haram captivity had no idea of any election and they were not aware that Nigerians had elected a new president.

Read Morevanguardngr

Agency Cautions Complacency After Rescue In Sambisa

A United Nations entity said while the rescue of women and children from the Boko Haram was welcome, this should not get the country carried away to the extent of the ongoing violations against these vulnerable members of the community.

“The release of women and children held captive by Boko Haram in Nigeria is welcome news, yet we mustn’t forget that women and children bear the brunt of this relentless violence in neighbouring countries as well,” said Denise Brown, WFP Regional Director for West Africa.

She said the women and children were vulnerable to impending hunger. “Women displaced by conflict have lost their husbands, walked for days to safety and rely on the support of already vulnerable communities. The lean season is upon us, and as local granaries are emptying, women tell of their families going hungry,” Brown added.

Brown’s sentiments come in the wake of the military rescuing hundreds of women and children from the Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of the Boko Haram terrorists.

Credit: CAJ News

Top Boko Haram Commanders Killed, More Women & Children Rescued As Sambisa Battle Turns Fierce

One soldier died, four others were injured as Boko Haram terrorists battled in vain to retain nine major camps in the dreaded Sambisa forest where more women and children were found and rescued. Troop commanders said hundreds of Boko Haram insurgents were killed in hours of gun battle.

The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, who made this known to newsmen in a statement, said two major combat tanks and high calibre ammunitions used by the Boko Haram terrorists were recovered while many others were destroyed.

The statement reads in full; “I wish to inform you that today (Wednesday) evening, troops of 7 Division Nigerian Army also cleared several terrorists strong points and training camps within Sambisa forest, Borno State, Nigeria.

“The troops have also rescued additional women and children. They have been evacuated to a safety zone for further processing.

“During the encounter unfortunately we lost a soldier, while 4 others were wounded in action. The troops have also killed several Boko Haram field commanders and foot soldiers and destroyed 2 Armoured Personnel Carriers, 2 Buffalo vehicles mounted with Anti-Aircraft Guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles.

“The gallant soldiers also recovered 1 Anti-Aircraft Gun, 1 General Purpose Machine Gun, 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade and several AK-47 rifles. Sadly, 1 woman died and 8 other women sustained gun shot wounds.

“So far, the troops have destroyed 9 terrorist camps in the forest. This is in addition to the 4 destroyed yesterday. The destroyed camps includes Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai and Jigide. Others include Kotorima, Lagara Bello and Lagara Fulani among others.

“I am glad to say that troops’ morale is very high as they are poised to accomplish the task of destroying all terrorists camps and rescuing all those held hostage by the terrorists”.
Meanwhile, the Director Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, will today provide updates on the ongoing counter-terrorism campaign in North-Eastern Nigeria.

Creditpremiumtimesng

Troops Retreat From Sambisa Forest After Landmines Kill Soldiers, Vigilantes

Nigerian troops were forced to retreat from Sambisa Forest as they took the battle to the stronghold of Islamist sect Boko Haram, after a landmine blast killed one soldier and three vigilantes.

The Military said on Wednesday that soldiers were conducting offensives “in some forest locations” in the area after it was announced last week that the operations were imminent.

Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement that a senior Boko Haram commander was killed, as well as a number of militants who attacked a patrol.

“The operations especially in forest locations are progressing in defiance of obstacles and landmines emplaced by the terrorists,” he added.

However, progress has been hampered by improvised explosive devices with which the area has been rigged by the terrorists, a civilian vigilante involved in the operation told AFP in an account backed by a security source.

“Boko Haram have buried landmines all over the routes leading to their camps in the forest, which is no doubt a huge obstacle retarding the military offensive against them,” he told AFP.

“We decided to turn back since the route was unsafe. As we were driving back, one of the vehicles carrying CJTF (Civilian Joint Task Force) hit a mine,” he added.

“A soldier and three CJTF were killed while another soldier was injured. We trudged along and made it back to Bama on Wednesday.”

The vigilante added: “There are no soldiers in Sambisa right now. We all returned to Bama after the horrifying experience of manoeuvring through minefields.”

“Boko Haram are in large numbers in Sambisa,” said the vigilante, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“All their fighters who were pushed out of Bama, Dikwa, Gwoza and Damboa (in Borno state) all moved to Boko Haram camps in Sambisa,” he added.

The Sambisa Forest is located in Borno state, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the town of Chibok, where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped on April 14 last year.

It has been claimed that the 219 schoolgirls still being held were initially kept in the former game reserve, although others have said they may have been split up and moved to Chad or Cameroon.

Nigerian Army Takes Mopping Operation To Sambisa

Nigerian troops are now within the precinct of Boko Haram hideout in the Sambisa forest.

The federal government made this disclosure on Wednesday. Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mike Omeri, disclosed in a terse email that, “Presently, the military is moving into the Sambisa forest after taking Alagarno, Gwoza, Bama, Malam Fatori, Abadam, among others”.

“Our intelligence indicates that the present military operation is focused in the area where the girls are believed to be held.”

The outgoing administration has assured that it would free the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped over a year ago by Boko Haram insurgents in Chibok community of Borno State.

Read More: dailypost

Shettima Reveals Location of Chibok Girls

The Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, has revealed that the over 200 school girls abducted from Chibok, Borno by Boko Haram are still alive.

According to him, they are still held in fragmented camps in the dreaded Sambisa forest. The governor added that all things being equal, the girls could be reunited with their families.

Also speaking, the Secretary to the Borno State Government (SSG), Ambassador, Baba Jidda, said the issue of the girls safe return is beyond the Borno state.

He said: “The issue of Chibok girls is a national and indeed an international issue, and we still haven’t heard anything positive about their possible return, especially alive. So, we are praying that this New Year, something tangible would be done by the Federal Government to get back the girls alive to their parents.”

Credit: www.naij.com

Boko Haram Abducts 40 Boys, Men in Borno Village

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen have kidnapped 40 boys and young men in a remote village in Borno state on New Year’s Eve?, residents who fled the isolated settlement said on Saturday.

Scores of Boko Haram militants stormed the Malari village and whisked away the males, aged between 10 and 23, into the nearby Sambisa forest, believed to be one of the Islamists’ major bases. The news of the abductions came out only days later, when residents who fled the village arrived in the state capital Maiduguri late on Friday. “They came in pick-up trucks armed with guns and gathered all the men in the village outside the home of the village chief where they preached to us before singling out 40 of our boys and taking them away,” Bulama Muhammad told AFP

?Malari village lies 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) from the Sambisa forest and close to the town of Gwoza, which the militants captured last June declaring it part of their caliphate. “My two sons and three nephews were among those taken away by the Boko Haram? gunmen and we believe they are going to use them as conscripts,” Muhammad said.

“When we heard of the kidnap of 40 boys in Malari by Boko Haram we decided to leave because we could be the next target,” said Alaramma Babagoni, who fled from the nearby village of Mulgwi. There was no immediate comment on the incident from the military in Maiduguri.

Boko Haram is still holding in captivity more than 200 schoolgirls it abducted from their school in Chibok in Borno state last April.

The Islamists are believed to control large swathes of territory in Borno as well as several towns and villages in two other northeastern states, Adamawa and Yobe.

Boko Haram’s five-year uprising in Nigeria has claimed more than 13,000 lives and has seen dozens of people, including women and children, kidnapped by the Islamists.

Credit: www.vanguardngr.com

 

This War We Fight (A Tribute To Our Wonderful Soldiers Fighting Boko Haram, Lord Bless Them)?

This war we fight
Its goes through the night till the morning
Are fallen soldiers Standing Angels?
We stand up on the shoulders
About the cold war they told us, peace
Be still, peace is not far away
It’s not far from where we are today
This war we fight with the might of the almighty
So even on dark days
This light will guide me
A life given for another, Is a time used wisely.
I write for the brothers and sisters
Eyes of them
Between the sheets of humanity
Our families the devil’s calamity
Soldiers that fight for our sanity
We celebrate them only annually
But everyday, everyday is a way to salute
Those of fatigue and boots , the mothers and fathers of those troops
The mission is to harmonize like old groups
This war we fight is for our young
So that our young can become recruits
Teachers, lawyers, writers
Fighters for a higher purpose
Becoming fine young men and women for service
Serving each other and the mother earth that birth us
Serving to God, that truly knows what there worth is
So for all our soldiers are write these words
Because of what you contribute
We pay tribute
For those of you who left us you still live through
Because this war we fight is everywhere all over
And in this war we are all soldiers.
@aaogungbesan
The peom was originally written by a Rapper Common to the veterans ,

Articles on www.omojuwa.com are solely authors opinion