Fred Itua, Abuja
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Tukur Buratai, has explained that Boko Haram began their activities in the 1980s, but became a full-blown terrorist organisation in 2009, when Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of the sect, was killed in Borno State.
Buratai stated this yesterday when the managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, led the management of the newspaper on a visit to Army Headquarters, Abuja.
The army chief said recruitment and indoctrination of Boko Haram sect members began 20 years before it had a major confrontation with the military in 2009.
Buratai, who sought the collaboration of the media, especially The Sun, in the fight against insurgency, argued that, if the war against insurgents must be won, every Nigerian must play a role.
The COAS also said there was need for de-indoctrination of the Boko Haram sect through spiritual warfare to discourage terrorist ideologies.
According to him, the terrorist group had been substantially decimated and does not pose a major threat to the security of Nigeria.
He said what was being experienced was by some remnants of the sect, lurking around neighbouring towns in the North East.
On the involvement of the army in civil security, the COAS said soldiers will continue to provide operational support to the police and other security agencies in a bid to secure life and property in the country. He said the prominence given to the Boko Haram terrorists and their activities by some media organisations in the past, gave impetus to their activities.
“I want to request that you be not only the voice of the masses, but also the voice of the Nigerian Army, so that we will be heard and understood, and also counter the negative propaganda of Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province). We will partner with The Sun. You have a wide reach. You have been objective. You have covered serious issues in Nigeria and outside. The Defence Report in your paper, we will help you to revive it,” said Buratai.
Ukeh commended the Nigerian Army and the military for their efforts in keeping the country safe.
He recalled how, in 2016, the newspaper honoured a fallen soldier, Mamman Abdul Ali, who was killed by Boko Haram terrorists.
Ukeh also hailed the work of the army in protecting Nigerians. He said the paper would continue to give a voice to the Nigerian Army in its efforts to keep the country safe.
“We decided to reverse the trend by visiting you. The army has done so much for the country at a time when there is fear about insurgency and terrorism. We appreciate the sacrifices you make.
“The Sun is supporting what you do; we used to run a page called Defence Report. We revived it to report what the Army is doing. The Sun is a strong brand. We are the voice of the nation. We will give everyone a voice,” Ukeh said.