Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Major General Bamide Shafa, has explained reasons behind the Federal Government’s adoption of a safe platform for repentant Boko Haram fighters.
He told 86 reformed and repentant Boko Haram members at the Bulumkutu Rehabilitation Centre, Maiduguri, Borno State, that war could not be won alone with force. He said dialogue remained a better way of ending war, especially when those involved agreed to lay down their arms.
Shafa explained that the 86 former Boko Haram members decided on their own to renounce violence and return to the society as normal citizens. He said President Muhammadu Buhari opened the window of opportunity for such persons through the Operation Safe Corrdior programme.
He said he had received reports from communities that many of the rehabilitated former insurgents have been absorbed and accepted by the people: “We must understand why some of them join the Boko Haram group in the first instance, sometimes not willingly.”
He said he was touring some of the communities to see how those rehabilitated at the Gombe Safe Corridor headquarters were faring after they were reabsorbed into society: “I am happy to meet with you. We want you to use the opportunity given to you by the President through this programme to tell your former colleagues to lay down their arms and come out.”
He had last Wednesday visited some of the rehabilitated ex-Boko Haram members who were accepted in Bama town, Borno STate. He told them the Nigerian military would accept whoever was willing to come out of the group.
Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, disclosed that the rehab centre has provided psycho-social support to the men, in addition to the rehabilitation received at the Safe Corridor camp in Gombe: “We brought religious leaders to them to preach and explain some provisions in our religious books to them. We thank God they are now good citizens.”
She asked if they would wish to go back to the bush to join the terror group but the men chorused, no: “We suffered in the bush.”
Some of the repentant fighters revealed that, in the bush, they moved around without bathing, food and water, sleeping for days in fear. Mohammed (other names withheld) one of the repentant insurgents said: “That time when we were in the bush, we did not know anything like bath. We did not eat good food, sometimes we did not have water. We moved from one place to the other. We did not have good clothes on. It was so bad.”
He said they were glad government provided an avenue for them to renounce the group and surrender. He appealed to those still in the bush to come, assuring them that government would not kill them.
Operation Safe Corridor was established by the Defence Headquarters in 2016 to provide a platform for Boko Haram members who voluntarily surrendered. The 86 men underwent intensive childcare and psycho-social training and child care programme sponsored by UNICEF in conjunction with Borno State Government.
Boko Haram: 3 soldiers promoted for outstanding performance
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has announced the special promotion of three soldiers of Operation Lafiya Dole to their next ranks for their outstanding performance in the ongoing war against terrorism in the North-East.
The beneficiaries, Felix Ugwu, Kehinde Goban and Ishaq Yesif, are currently serving at Super Camp 3 in Buratai, Biu Local Government Area, Borno State.
They were decorated by the COAS himself as a motivation to colleagues in the theatre. Buratai, who was on a visit to the troop location, decorated Ugwu, from the rank of Warrant Officer to Master Warrant Officer, Goban, from the rank of Corporal to Sergeant, and Yesif, from the rank of Private to Lance Corporal, amid jubilation and excitement from their colleagues.
Aside from the new ranks, the army chief also presented generating sets and 32-inch plasma television to each of the soldiers. Buratai, who was on an operational visit to troops in the North-East, was briefed by the commander of their battalion, Colonel Muhammed Adamu, on the gallant performances of the three soldiers.
The commander told Buratai that Warrant Officer Ugwu was instrumental to the newly established Defence Post within their area of responsibility. Buratai said he could not afford to delay their reward, even as he urged officers and soldiers to continue to work hard with discipline, saying everyone who deserved such promotion would get their due.
On the recent innovation by the theatre command, Buratai said the Nigerian Army would continue to encourage innovation in science and technology and improve on their capabilities: “The army is an institution on its own and it is capable of doing a lot of things in order to make it functional and to function effectively in the discharge of our constitutional responsibility.
“We commend the initiative of the theatre commander and all the officers that are working hard to contain the security challenges in the country especially in the North-East.
“That of Maiduguri is ad hoc and out of necessity and it is a lot of deliberately planned initiative by the commander and we are supporting him to ensure that his troops operate confidently by providing the necessary protection through these equipment improvisation.
“But that of Kaduna is special, it is deliberate and it is part of the Defence Industrial Complex because we are collaborating with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria.
“It is to see how we can be self-sufficient in our own industrial needs. So, that one is budgeted and we will continue with what we are doing.”
Buratai also used the occasion to hold a special durbar with the troops of the camp where operational, administrative and other welfare issues were discussed.
We need your support to end insurgency, GOC tells Borno stakeholders
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Abdul Ibrahim, has solicited the support and cooperation of stakeholders to help the military end terrorism in Borno State.
He said the menace had claimed several lives, properties, economic and social activities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states: “If only communities would give total support to the military, the counter-insurgency operations would end in no distance time to allow peace to reign in North-East.”
The GOC made the appeal while addressing troops at the West Africa Social Activities (WASA) and end-of-year party for soldiers at Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri.
He said: “The army will do everything in its powers to wipe out terrorism in the country. Our troops will continue to sustain the fight against insurgents, until they are completely wiped out from the Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad region.”
Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major-General Olusegun Adeniyi, said WASA would further boost troops’ morale in the frontlines for better performance. Aside from the cultural display, 12 soldiers were also recognised for gallantry and outstanding performance in fighting Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa Forest and around the shores of Lake Chad.
NAF bombs another terrorist camp in Borno
Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said its Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole has destroyed another terrorist camp of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The camp, located in Tumbun Zarami on the fringes of the Lake Chad in Borno State, was said to have been destroyed last Sunday after successive days of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and intelligence reports from multiple sources.
Director, public relations and information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said: “The intensified offensive operations of the Nigerian Air Force against terrorist targets in the North-East of the country have recorded further significant strides. This came about under the auspices of Operation Rattle Snake 3, being executed by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole, which dealt another devastating blow on elements of ISWAP with the destruction of a training camp at Tumbun Zarami on the fringes of the Lake Chad in Borno State.
“The mission was conducted on February 16, 2020, after successive days of ISR missions as well as intelligence reports from multiple sources, including the Multinational Joint Task Force headquarters, revealed that training activities were being carried out in and around some makeshift structures hidden under the shrubbery within the settlement.
“Consequently, the ATF detailed its attack aircraft to engage the training camp 4, scoring accurate hits, which led to the destruction of the suspected camp commander’s house as well as some other structures within the camp.
“The NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, will sustain its air campaign to shape the battle space in the North-East for the effective conduct of further ground and air operations.”