As the troops of the Special Forces set up by the military authorities push ahead to rid north-east Nigeria of insurgency, the Defence headquarters on Monday disclosed that more discoveries have been made of late.
Briefing newsmen under the aegis of the Joint Security Services Public Information Committee, the Director of Defence Information, Brig General Chris Olukolade, said tunnels connecting houses were discovered by the troops as well as corpses dumped in soak-away.
Olukolade who said the briefing was in keeping with earlier promise of constant update, also said parents in-laws of the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau were apprehended while women and children who were being forced to run errand were freed.
He recalled that the mandate of President Jonathan to the forces involves the destruction of all terrorist camps/bases, apprehension of perpetrators and bringing them to justice.
According to him, “This mandate has been substantially achieved with destruction of terrorists’ stronghold and bases. In the process, many captives of the terrorists especially women and children were freed from the camps as their captors fled in disarray.
“A recent encounter in the terrorist main enclaves in Bulabulin Nganaram, Aljajeri and Faluja in Maiduguri metropolis led to the death of Amir of Bulabulin Nganaram, one of the kingpins on the JTF wanted list. Many women and minors were rescued and handed over to their families by the JTF.
“A number of terrorists have been apprehended by the Special Forces. Many of them have also died in battle with the forces. Various resources including trained military police dogs facilitated the arrest of insurgents who try to infiltrate the cities after been dislodged from their bases at the onset of the operation.
“Cordon and Search Operations have started enjoying tremendous cooperation of locals. Several terrorists including their foreign members are being tracked down. Key terrorists especially those in the cadre of Amir as well as those helping in their renewed mobilization and recruitment of minors are being hunted.
“Troops on cordon and search operations in Bulabulin area in Maiduguri last week discovered a vast network of underground tunnels connecting houses and many bunkers some which have the capacity to accommodate over 100 persons. More corpses were also discovered in soak-away. Various weapons were also discovered in the same area.
“Abubakar Shekau’s parents in-law were picked up in the raid which also discovered various audio recordings of terrorists messages. Recoveries are made almost on daily basis as the operation progresses. The media have had opportunity to inspect some of the items recovered from the camps.
“The recoveries among others include: 8 AK47 assault rifles, 1 G3 rifle, 9 AK47 magazines, 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade charger, 5 Rocket Propelled Grenade, 3 FMC magazine, 1 G3 magazines, 14 IEDs and 166 rounds of 7.62mm Special. Others are, 3 35mm Bazooka; 34 rounds of 5.56mm, 1,740 round of 303 inch, 10 rounds of 7.62 NATO, 1 round of .50mm, 1 dane gun, 1 locally made pistol and 2 mega phones.
“In keeping with Presidential directives, a total of 58 detainees linked with Boko Haram insurgents have been released in Borno and Yobe states. This comprised 23 women and 35 children. Some of the teenagers confessed that they were conscripted to run errand for the terrorists who paid them paltry N5,000 to monitor troops and set public buildings ablaze. The women and children were handed over to the Governors of Borno and Yobe states for onward rehabilitation and reintegration,” he said.
Brig Gen. Olukolade assured that the troops will forge ahead with the operations, saying “The ongoing operation and activities of our security agencies is therefore a sacred national assignment to secure our borders and assert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“Consequently, the security agencies call on all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support the ongoing fight against terrorism. We call for more understanding of the international community represented by the foreign media. We urge them to be objective, fair and responsible in their reportage so as not to jeopardize the integrity of the operation”.
In spite of internal security challenges, Olukolade said Nigerian military is currently involved in peace keeping missions in 11 countries namely: Congo, Cote D’Ivore, Mali, Lebanon, Guinea Bissau, Sierra leone, and Liberia among others.
“We are proud to say that in all these Missions which our troops are participating, they have exhibited a high degree of professionalism and competency. This of course is attributable to the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitude required through sound professional training”.