From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
As the country marks the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Friday, the Presidency has declared that the activities of Boko Haram insurgents have been weakened compared to what obtained in 2015.
This is even as it said that more than 2,403 criminals, including terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and criminals of other sorts, were reportedly eliminated by the Nigerian Armed Forces, in coordinated operations across the country between March 18 and December 30, 2020.
The event is billed to hold in the early hours of the day at the National Arcade, opposite Eagles Square, Three Arms Zone, Abuja.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement titled “Security checklist, as Nigeria marks Armed Forces Remembrance Day, by Presidency” flaunted the Buhari administration’s achievements in the area of security.
The Presidential Spokesman said the remembrance programmed offered the opportunity “to chronicle current landmark achievements by our military in tackling security challenges in the land, towards fulfilling the constitutional requirement of government guaranteeing the protection of lives and property.”
On internal security, Adesina affirmed that “Boko Haram is much weaker today than in 2015.”
Adesina to buttress his point quoted extensively from a December 2, 2020 statement credited to the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, in which the governor claimed that despite the recent happenings in the state, the security situation in the state and the entire North East was still better under the present regime.
In the “highlights of Defence Headquarters coordinated operations from March 18 to December 30, 2020”, the Presidential Spokesman said, “The Armed Forces of Nigeria from March 18 to December 30, 2020 neutralised 2,403 criminal elements (terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, etc.) across the country.
“This is in addition to scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed during air strikes.
“Troops also rescued a total of 864 kidnapped victims across the country.
“In addition, a total of 9,684,797 litres of stolen AGO and 33,516,000 litres of DPK were recovered.
“Equally, 1,910 criminal elements were arrested and large cache of arms, ammunition and equipment were recovered during the period.
“Furthermore, a total of 46,581.8 barrels of stolen crude oil and 22,881,257 litres of stolen PMS were recovered by the troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.”
In what he tagged sectoral breakdown of March to December 2020 military successes, Adesina stated that in the North West, 5,281 livestock, 6,951 rounds of ammunition and 120 assorted rifles were recovered from bandits by the troops in the zone.
According to him, 455 kidnapped victims were rescued and 473 bandits killed while 461 arrests were made in the zone, including high profile bandits, gun runners and bandits’ collaborators, while a total cash of N6,365,550 was recovered from bandits and their informants in the Zone.
In the North East, Adesina said 200 kidnapped victims were rescued by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole while 1,385 rounds of ammunition, 45 grenades as well as 95 assorted rifles were recovered from BHT/ISWAP fighters.
“In addition, several gun trucks were captured, while some others were destroyed during air strikes. 1,805 insurgents/terrorists including commanders were killed by the troops aside scores killed by air raids/attacks.
“Additionally, within the period, a total of 79 arrests were made including high value targets,” he added.
In the North Central, Adesina said troops of Operations SAFE HAVEN, WHIRL STROKE and THUNDER STRIKE rescued a total of 130 kidnapped victims, and 105 assorted rifles as well as 513 rounds of ammunition and 1,055 rustled cattle were recovered from armed bandits and other criminal elements in the Zone.
He added that 1,250 criminals, including family members of the Darul Salam sect, were arrested within the period, while the troops neutralised a total of 125 armed bandits including militia gang leaders.
In the South South, the presidential aide said 8,890,300 litres of stolen AGO and 33,516,00 litres of DPK were impounded by troops of Operation DELTA SAFE.
He added, “Troops immobilised a total of 185 illegal refining sites, 85 dugout pits and 163 metal storage tanks within the period. Additionally, troops impounded a cumulative total of 31,236.8 barrels of stolen crude oil as well as 12,272,652 litres of stolen PMS from oil thieves in the Zone.
“Also, a total of 47 kidnapped victims were rescued, while 72 vandals and criminals were arrested.
“A total of 4,250 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled smuggled rice were impounded and 45 boats engaged in illegal activities were arrested.
“Troops also arrested a total of 53 pirates and 25 trucks as well as recovered 23 rifles, 65,330 rounds of ammunition and destroyed 23 sea pirate camps.”
In the South West, Adesina disclosed that troops of Operation AWATSE in the zone between March 18 and December 30, 2020 impounded a total of 10,458,600 litres of PMS; 15,345 barrels of stolen crude oil and 345,000 litres of stolen AGO.
“Additionally, troops recovered a total of 3,594 rounds of ammunition and 14 assorted rifles. Also, within the period, a total of 23 illegal refining sites were immobilised, while 15 boats and 23 trucks engaged in illegal activities were arrested. In the same vein, within the period 35 kidnapped victims were rescued, while 48 arrests were made,” Adesina said.
President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammadu, service chiefs as well as the inspector General of police are among those to lay wreath in honour of the country’s fallen heroes at the event.