Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has described the claim that Boko Haram was providing humanitarian assistance to some communities in Borno State as “propaganda”.
Buratai, who was reacting to questions from journalists in Maiduguri shortly after he paid courtesy visit to the Borno State governor at the Government House, challenged those who claim Boko Haram was constructing bore holes and providing aid to towns in northern Borno to come out with facts.
“I don’t believe Boko Haram are building bore holes. Where will they get the drilling machine to move around without been identified? It is propaganda. Yes, they can get financial resources … But give us specifics because we will not work on propaganda,” the army chief said.
He also shed light on the alleged pulling out of troops from some Borno communities, saying the military was re-strategising following recent attacks on Kukuwa, Gajiram, Kareto and Mongumeri.
“Military operation is scientific. We’re strategising and I assure you we are containing the menace.”
He explained that troops were in these communities contrary to fears expressed by the people that the military pulled out of the areas.
Though admitting that military operations cannot be carried out without looses, the General, however, said that most media reports on the army’s counterinsurgency operations often exegerate casualties.
Also reacting to a media report about his comment on front troop commitment, the General Buratai said he was wrongly quoted.
“I never said in any comment that troops lack commitment. I was wrongly quoted and quoted out of context. Some even went beyond that to quote me that I said troops are cowards. This is far from the truth,” he said.
He explained that he made the comment at a training workshop organised to review and reappraise the military operations in the country to find solutions to the challenges currently experienced.
Buratai urged the media not to help insurgents hype their propaganda. He said terrorism and insurgency were national security challenges. He went on to appeal to Nigerians to identify strangers in their communities and that they should not wait until insurgents mobilise for attacks before they report their activities to the appropriate security agency.