Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), has debunked claims by the Borno State governor that the Boko Haram Terrorist are holding about six villages in that state.
This is just as the DHQ, says the military joint operations as well as troops of Operation Lafia Dole fighting the counter insurgency war is working round the clock to rescue all hostages held captive by the terrorists.
Director Defence Information Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachuku, made this known at a media briefing on the Defence Headquarters Coordinated Joint Operations, in Abuja, said it is not true that the Boko Haram Terrorist we’re occupying any Nigerian villages.
Gen. Nwachuku, while responding to questions from journalists on claims by the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, that the terrorists are still occupying some Borno villages, said “Boko Haram is not holding any inch of our territory, they hibernate around and watch out for soft targets.
“As I mentioned they watch out for soft target and conduct attack it is not true that terrorists are holding any part of our villages.
“They come out from wherever are hibernating from where they come out infiltrate the public and carry out attacks on soft targets.
“I think there was such an infiltration and they were severely dealt with around the Babangida area of Yobe State on Sunday”.
The Defence spokesman who who also responded to questions on what the military is doing to rescue aid workers and innocent persons held hostage by the terrorists, assured that the military was doing everything in its powers to rescue the abductors alive.
He however noted that the operations carried out for such rescues are usually very sensitive and needs caution as the terrorists may use any aggressive moves to kill the hostages, a situation the military is trying to avoid.
According to him, “Abductions and kidnapping are some of those tactics these terrorists and insurgents adopt to want to raise funds to support their illicit activities.
“It’s an international thing and unfortunately a number of persons that are very dear to our hearts we still have the case of Leah Sharubu there.
“I want to assure you that troops of operation Lafia Dole are relentless in ensuring that these people are rescued.
“Round the clock, there are regular aggressive robust patrol and there are rescue missions that are conducted almost on a daily basis but the fact remains that the troops have to thread very cautiously because these persons that are to be rescued are already in the hands of the terrorists and any careless reckless move may result in annihilation of these people just to ward off the troops.
“So it’s a very, very intricate and complex operation that are being conducted here and requires time and very sensitive operations to conduct”.
The Defence spokesman who gave a brief on the joint operational conducts of the DHQ, reiterated the resolve of the Armed Forces and security agencies to tackle emerging security challenges and ensure the safety and security of all
Nigerians, especially we approach the Christmas and year celebrations.
He equally called for support from the public to enable the military sustain their support to the security agencies in their operations.
Giving a brief on the coordinated joint operations of the Defence headquarters, Nwachuku said: “In the past 3 months, all Joint Internal Security Operations conducted by the military, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have increased the tempo of their operational activities and policing, with tremendous results recorded across all geo-political zones.”
He listed the operations to include Operations SAFE HAVEN, HADARIN DAJI, THUNDER STRIKE, WHIRL STROKE and DELTA SAFE.
Giving a breakdown of the operations, Nwachuku said that within the last 3 months the troops have neutralized several bandits in fierce combats and arrested 389 others.
He said, “The rampant cases of kidnapping have been significantly reduced with 1,048 kidnapped victims rescued and 48 suspected kidnappers arrested. Within the period under review, troops have also recovered 170 assorted fire arms comprising 58 x AK 47 rifles, 5 x G3 rifles, 5 x FN rifles, 7 Pump Action Guns and 95 locally fabricated guns. Others include 3 Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher, 12,803 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 100 rounds of cartridges and 128 magazines.”
Continuing, he said “The troops also succeeded in recovering 5,567 rustled cattle, 2,499 sheep, 973 goats, 15 camels and 14 donkeys. Most of the animals have since been released to the state government for handover to their owners.
“Operation WHIRL STROKE (OPWS) was set up to contain malevolent killings and destructions orchestrated by armed herdsmen/farmers clashes, armed bandits, local militia groups and other criminal gangs in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States. In the last 3 months, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE conducted over 32 offensive operations against the infiltrating armed herdsmen, armed militia gangs and suspected kidnapping camps. The undaunted troops destroyed 82 kidnappers’ makeshift camps, arrested over 266 bandits, one illegal arm manufacturer and 3 gun-running kingpins.
“Within the period, 217 assorted assault weapons and 4,201 rounds of ammunition were recovered from criminals, while several bandits were neutralized in combat with the troops. The effort of Operation WHIRL STROKE also paved the way for 266,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their ancestral homes. OPWS also stepped up its non-kinetic activities during the period under review.
“These include peace and dialogues initiatives with warring communities and construction of roads, especially the one that links Ugya to Zwere in Benue state.
“Operation SAFE HAVEN (OPSH) was originally set up to contain communal and ethno-religious crisis in Plateau state. However, other forms of criminalities, such as banditry, cultism, livestock rustling, kidnapping and herdsmen infiltration and robbery rocked the State, thereby forcing OPSH to re-strategize and hike-up the tempo of operation to arrest the emerging threats.
“Between September and November 2019, troops of OPSH arrested 779 suspected cultists, 10 kidnappers and 23 armed robbers. Likewise, a total of 21 assorted weapons were recovered comprising 5 AK 47, one FN rifle, 7 locally fabricated rifles, 8 pistols and one dane gun. The troops also recovered 15 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, 63 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 3 rounds of cartridges. Additionally, 666 rustled cattle and 100 sheep were recovered by the troops. OPSH has been able to employ non-kinetic operations to amicably resolve over 20 reported cases of farm land destruction that would have ordinarily led to violent herders/farmers clashes, thereby averting loss of lives and property. Troops also held 22 peace dialogues among warring communities and organized rehabilitation programs for repentant cultists to encourage them to renounce cultism.
“Operation THUNDER STRIKE (OPTS) is a Joint security effort to tackle the menace of banditry and kidnapping along Abuja-Kaduna road and Birnin Gwari general area. Within the period under review, OPTS made significant achievements in the fight against crime and criminalities in the area of operations. The troops in a series of encounters arrested 12 suspected bandits and rescued 3 kidnap victims. The troops also recovered 7 AK 47 rifles, 4 locally made guns and 9 cartridges.
“Troops also conducted a raid operation on a notorious kidnapper’s enclave known as Tushen-Kwara, located in Goningora where cultists converge. During the raid operation, 24 cultists were arrested while 5 bags and 40 wraps of marijuana were recovered. Also recovered at the scene were 60 raps of Evimor, 8 mobile phones and 19 handbags, apparently belonging to attacked victims.
“Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS) was set up to curb crude oil theft, illegal refining of petroleum product, illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping, piracy, cultism and militancy in the Niger Delta Region. The OPDS covers Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States. Other areas covered include southern parts of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Imo and Ondo states. OPDS was reinvigorated by the DHQ to achieve its mandate.
In the period under review, OPDS averted 64 attempted infractions on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Pipelines. Troops of OPDS also arrested 27 suspected militants/pirates. Nine (9) AK 47 rifles were recovered with 755 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. OPDS also embarked on rigorous anti kidnapping operations, resulting in the rescue of over 43 victims, while 4 kidnappers were arrested. Troops of OPDS arrested 41 suspected smugglers and 11 boats conveying about 2,130 bags of 50kg rice suspected to have been smuggled into the country from one of our neighboring countries.
“OPDS also explored the non-kinetic line of operations as one of the effective means of resolving some emerging security challenges in the Niger Delta. OPDS currently maintains Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) desk that has been instrumental to amicable resolution of conflicts between host communities and oil companies on issues related to agitation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the Niger Delta. Within the period under review, OPDS resolved about 36 conflicts which would have impacted negatively on the operations of oil prospecting companies and the mandate of OPDS.
“It is very important to mention here that these successes were not without a price. Sadly within the period, 6 soldiers, 1 aircraftman and 3 policemen paid the supreme price defending the nation.”