Boko Haram: Military Steps up Counter-terror Campaign

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday disclosed that the military had intensified its counter-terrorism campaign and had as a result adopted new strategies to crush the Boko Haram insurgents. The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, disclosed this yesterday in a press briefing on military response to the terrorist acts, following public out-cry against the massacre of innocent students in Yobe State. Olukolade explained that the intensified offensive had led to the dislodge of the sect, who unfortunately in the course of their flight to the border towns to Cameroun inflicted more misery on the people. He also revealed that the military was able to kill at least six members of the fleeing Boko Haram members, with nine others captured. According to him, “the purpose of this briefing is to intimate you with the elevation of counter-terrorism campaign in the country.”The new approach marks another phase in the operations designed to further contain the terrorists and their activities. The specialized campaign which has commenced, is being undertaken simultaneously in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States. This operation is also in furtherance of the efforts at apprehending the terrorists and ensuring they do not escape out of Nigeria as they are now so desperate to do.”Unfortunately, however, they have in the course of their flight towards various borders, continued to perpetrate mayhem as noticed in some parts of Adamawa State yesterday night where they attacked communities. In desperation for money and food, they looted and burnt banks, shops and filling stations along their way through Michika as they headed for Cameroun border,” he revealed. The Defence spokesman further disclosed that the troops are closing in on some of the insurgents who were suspected to have carried out the massacre at the Federal Government College (FGC), Buni Yadi, Yobe State are being surrounded but still engaged in suicidal fighting of martyrdom. He expressed concern over the killing of the innocent children at the college, but reminded that the dastardly act typified terrorist intention to cow members of the public. Olukolade, however, advised citizens in the affected states, particularly towards the border areas, to assist the security forces by reporting any movement of the group if noticed in their locality as it would further enhance the operations as well as assist in apprehending or eliminating them. He assured the people that “all things being equal, the activities of this murderous group will be further degraded towards total elimination shortly. Meanwhile, there are indications that a suspected Boko Haram kingpin on a mission to possibly carry out terrorist attacks in Benue State was Tuesday arrested by the police in Makurdi, the state capital. The suspect, a Fulani, who hails from Taraba State, was arrested by the police at the Kanshio area of Makurdi, following a tip- off. Sources close to the state police command disclosed that the suspect was found with six blank cheques with the total value said to in millions of naira. Also found on him were copies of maps of some parts of Benue State especially Makurdi, the state capital. A source close to the police disclosed that the maps showed some possible targets for attack. The detailed description of the targets were contained in an exercise book which was found on the suspect. Some of the places included a high profile hotel in the Nyiman area of Makurdi as well as some major infrastructural facilities central to the economic life of the state capital. The Boko Haram suspect, the sources further disclosed was whisked away to an unknown location where he is being questioned by security operatives. Yesterday arrest came at the peak of bloody attacks on Tiv villages by suspected Fulani militia which in the last few weeks had claimed several lives with destruction of properties, farms and houses worth millions of naira. The attacks, which last week claimed the country home of the paramount ruler of the Tiv people, the Tor Tiv, Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, had raised tension in the state especially among the Tiv who viewed the unfortunate development as an affront on the Tiv nation. The sophistication of the weapons used by the invading Fulani herdsmen as evidenced in the large scale killings and destruction of property have raised the suspicion that some terrorist groups might have been perpetrating the attacks in the guise of Fulani herdsmen. Meanwhile the Police Public Relations Officer (PPPRO) in the state, Mr. Daniel Ezeala, denied the arrest. He said the state police command had no knowledge of such arrest. However, the Lagos State Government yesterday blamed the rising trend of insurgent operations in the North, especially the killing of 43 students in Yobe State, on what he described as the porosity of territorial and maritime borders. Fashola, thus, asked the federal government to review its security strategy and strengthen the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as a measure to stem terrorist attacks. He said this while unveiling the new complex at of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in reaction to gruesome killing of 43 students of Federal Government College in Yobe State on Tuesday. At the unveiling, the governor renamed the Babatunde Raji Fashola, BRF Multi-purpose Hall as ‘NUPENG Peace Hall” in memory of the 43 students killed two days ago after the Boko Haram sect attacked Bunu Yadi, Yobe, burning their hostel, classrooms and more than 40 houses during the attack. He argued that the first line of defence for the security of any country facing insurgency “is to strengthen its immigration and customs services. This will help the country know who is coming into the country and what are they coming to do?”“This is the basic way to start. It is only then because no matter the years that the security agencies spend in terms of reaction. So long as the borders remain porous, more guns will find their way into the country.“If such country does not reinforce its officers who are the first contact to foreigners coming into the country, that country security architecture will not achieve its desired purpose,” the governor explained. Fashola, therefore, prayed for the peaceful repose of these young Nigerians, though urged all his countrymen “to stand up as a nation irrespective of our language, faith, ethnicity and tribe against insurgency and terrorism.“This is the time that we all must show that no matter how diverse we are, we are still one people. Let us all think on how to solve this problem. Who must search to know those who are the problem? We must resolve to provide the solution.”

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