A text of Media Briefing by Major General Leo Irabor, Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole on December 21, 2016
I am glad to inform you that our troops have continued to record astounding progress in the fight against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) since the last time we met. Some of the major successes recorded within the period are:
a. Update on Operation RESCUE FINALE. The operation in Sambisa Forest has continued. So far, our troops have cleared and dominated almost the whole of SAMBISA Forest including BHT enclaves at GONERI, GONI KURMI, ALAFA 1, 2 and 3, BULA BELLO and NJIMIA. Others are AMDAGA, BITTA, SASSAWA, TOKOMBERE, JEFE, NDENEMA, TURORI and SAMBISA Gate 1. For ease of understanding the incursion into Sambisa, let me give you a graphical explanation of the operation as shown on the screen.
b. Destruction of a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device. Following BHT attack on own troops at their harbour area in BULA BELLO on 13 Dec 16 at about 1541hrs, own troops conducted mop up operations at BHT staging areas of attack on 14 Dec 16 at about 0700hrs. During the mop up, own troops discovered and destroyed a VBIED which was blown by our RPG. Troops also recovered one GPMG, one FN magazine loaded with 20 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 156 quantities of 7.62mm NATO links and one RPG bomb.
c. Ambush by Own Troops. Own troops have conducted some ambushes on BHTs during the period. These include:
(1) On 15 Dec 16 at about 0806hrs, own troops in conjunction with members of vigilante sprang an ambush to BAREMA Farm along GONIRI – DAMBOA road. The troops apprehended suspected BHTs and sympathizers comprising 20 men and 61 members of their families. The suspects were relocated from FULUS village north of KAFA village in KAGA LGA of Borno State to GONIRI. Suspects are undergoing investigation.
(2) On 17 Dec 16 at about 0900hrs, own troops sprung an ambush along PULKA – BANKI junction where they intercepted and engaged some BHT members at a crossing point in FIRGI. Two BHT members were killed in action while a boy of about 12 years with the BHT was injured in the process. The boy claimed he was captured by the BHT and he has been evacuated to our hospital for further treatment. Items recovered include a motorcycle with spare tyre, one AK 47 with 28 rounds of ammunition and a suicide bomber vest strapped on one of the killed BHT which was safely removed.
d. Person Borne Improvise Explosive Devices. During the period under review, own troops had to contain few incidences of person borne improvise explosive devices:
(1) On 15 Dec 16 at about 0810hrs, 2 female suicide bombers clad in hijab attempted to infiltrate own defensive forward line at LIMANKARA. They were shot by own troops when they refused to halt at a distance. Consequently, the IED vests strapped on their bodies exploded and killed the 2 suicide bombers.
(2) Again, on 15 Dec 16 at about 1030hrs, own troops deployed at RANN intercepted a girl strapped in suicide vest trying to infiltrate into RANN town. A member of the CJTF grabbed and suppressed her as she was attempting to detonate the explosive device strapped on her thereby unable to detonate it. The vest was later safely removed from her.
(3) Another incidence was on 18 Dec 15 where 2 suicide bombers attempted to sneak pass troops location at MAFA check point. The 2 suicide bombers were shot when they failed to stop at a distance. The explosive devices detonated and killed the 2 suicide bombers.
(4) Similarly, on 18 Dec 16 at about 2055hrs, own troops sighted 2 suicide bombers trying to cross into town through GALMERI village. The suspects were challenged by troops from a distance when one of the 2 suicide bombers panicked. She immediately detonated the suicide vest strapped on her body killing herself and the other male suicide bomber. However, the suicide vest on the second male did not explode. The 2 suicide bombers were killed while 3 civilians sustained minor injuries. The injured civilians were evacuated to Maiduguri general hospital for medical attention. The Nigeria Police EOD team was contacted to neutralize the unexploded suicide vest while NEMA and ICRC were contacted for clearing of the mutilated body parts and also to disinfect the area.
Comments on IED. Let me add that I have requested the Commissioners of Police of Borno and Adamawa States, the State Director, Department of State Services Borno State and other security Agencies to heighten their operations in order to eradicate cases of IEDs/Suicide Bombings.
e. Clearance Patrol. Own troops conducted some clearance operations in suspected BHT enclaves:
(1) On 15 Dec 16 at about 1115hrs, own troops conducted a robust clearance operations in the general areas of KANGARWA, METELE, DOGON CHUKU and environs. The troops cleared all BHT enclaves in both KANGARWA and METELE villages killing one BHT and capturing an elderly man who confessed to be the Amir of the adjoining Tumbus ahead of DOGON CHUKU. The arrested BHT Amir later died of gunshot wounds. However, one of own vehicles was destroyed by a BHT RPG fire and one soldier was wounded in action. He is currently recuperating in our hospital.
(2) On 18 Dec 16 at about 0830hrs, own troops conducted clearance operation to MASA village, GULUMBA GANA, ARICINGORI and ZANGERI villages. Troops rescued 67 female adults, 23 male children and 19 female children held hostages at MASA village. On 19 Dec 16 at about 0645hrs, troops advanced to GULUMBA GANA where troops met BHT resistance. Troops engaged the BHT in a fierce battle and later dislodged them and killing 15 BHT. Weapons and BHT flags were captured. Also, 18 motor cycles and 25 bicycles were burnt. Troops also discovered 4 solar panels and 2 spare tyres. Sadly, a soldier was killed in action while another was wounded in action and were evacuated by air for further treatment.
f. Rescue of Fishermen. On 18 Dec 16 at about 1010hrs, own troops in gunboat received a distress call from fishermen around NGADIYA village about BHT members that captured some fishermen. Immediately, our troops mobilised and embarked on a rescue operation. The troops made contact with BHTs and cleared same. Fifteen fishermen were rescued while one fisherman was killed in action and another taken away by BHT.
g. Interception of Suspected Rustled Rams/Sheep. On 16 Dec16 at about 1605hrs, own troops deployed at FOB DIKWA in conjunction with vigilante intercepted 57 rams and sheep at a BHT suspected crossing point along DIKWA – AJIRI road. The animals which are suspected to have been rustled were intercepted without owners and are currently in own custody to be handed over to the appropriate body.
h. Release of Detainees to Borno State Government. On 16 Dec 16 at about 1730hrs, a total of 299 cleared detainees were released to Borno State Government from our detention centre in Maiduguri. The released detainees were received by the representative of the state Government. In attendance were members of CJTF, affected LGA representatives and a team of UNICEF staff who donated some relief items to the released women and children.
i. Handover of IDPs. On 15 Dec 16 at about 0930hrs, a total of 116 men, 147 women and 248 children of Nigerian nationality were handed over to own troops at BANKI by Cameroonian Forces. They were screened and moved to the IDP camp. However, 8 BHT suspects were identified among them by the resident IDPs in the camp. The suspects are in custody undergoing preliminary interrogation.
j. Suspected BHT Escapees. On 16 Dec 16 at about 1305hrs following a tip off from locals, own troops in conjunction with members of vigilante apprehended 2 suspected BHT female escapees along AZARE general area. The woman revealed that they came out from Sambisa Forest. The escapees are undergoing interrogation.
k. Discovery of Ammunition. In the morning of today, 600 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition were discovered hidden in a plastic container and buried in a River around the Gwange area of Maiduguri. Investigation is on-going.
During our operations in the period 14 – 21 Dec 16, a total of 1880 civilians were rescued from BHT enclaves. Similarly, between 14 – 21 Dec 16, a total of 564 BHT members were arrested while 19 others surrendered to our troops. Also, 7 suspected kidnappers and 37 foreigners were equally arrested.
Road Construction. Own troops operating in Sambisa Forest embarked on earth road construction task to further assist our operations. The road construction is on different fronts.
Logistics Re-Supply. Within the period, some logistics items, including arms, ammunition and spare parts for equipment among others, were received.
Online Video Alleging Maltreatment of Soldiers. There is an online video circulated by some media organisations to portray the alleged maltreatment of soldiers by not providing them with water and food. The video clip was shot on 31 March 2016, by some mischievous and disgruntled elements when our troops captured Alagarno Forest during Operation CRACKDOWN on 28 March 2016.
The Board of Inquiry which instituted to investigate the matter, actually showed that as at the time of the incident, the unit’s water tanker still contained water but a soldier mischievously concealed it. That soldier was charged and punished accordingly. In addition to the unit’s water tanker, a borehole was subsequently drilled at the location. It is disheartening that some malicious elements have decided to circulate it now that our troops are recording huge successes in the defeating BHTs, thereby creating the false impression that it is a recent occurrence. Let us know that issues of national security are serious and must be treated with caution. Those who are quick at circulating unsubstantiated occurrences for whatever reasons must be weary of the frankenstein monster. They may be the first to be consumed.
I wish to observe the unfortunate development within a section of the Media who have, knowingly or unknowingly, chosen the negative path to incite the troops and denigrate the good efforts of Op LAFIYA DOLE. Specifically, Premium Times, have repeatedly shown a pattern of reports disparaging the very noble and gallant efforts of troops. It has consistently worked, in futility, to cause disaffection among troops of Op LAFIYA DOLE. During the setback in Gashagar, which I earlier informed the public, Premium Times worked to promote the evil action of Boko Haram Terrorists by its publication.
Every publication from Premium Times either eulogizes Boko Haram or mischievously emphasise, beyond proportion, the challenges of Op LAFIYA DOLE. The latest being that Premium Times reported that:
a. ‘Gunshots, confusion in Borno as soldiers Fighting Boko Haram go on Rampage.
b. Nigerian Army General who lied about troops’ Mutiny escapes lynching by hungry soldiers’.
What a hateful representation of the Medium’s wishes for the troops! Interestingly, on the said date of mutiny, I was in the frontlines in Bula Bello accompanied by the Ag GOC 7 Div and Comd 21 Bde, with the same troops that Premium Times claimed to have turned against their officers. One may ask, could it be that Premium Times is working to frustrate the gains that have been made in this operation? Is the platform not happy that the war is coming to an end? Could they be working with Boko Haram Terrorists to ensure that the morale of the troops are dampened at this crucial stage of ending the war? The rescue of over 1,500 people, capture of suicide Bombers alive among many other brave performances of troops are not worthy of Premium Times’ coverage? Was Premium Times established to promote evil and insecurity? These and many more are the questions the public may wish to find out from Premium Times.
Whilst noting that the position of Premium Times is isolated, the rest of the Media have shown patriotism, commitment and support for the operation. I wish to therefore commend these patriotic Media Houses and urge them to continue in that regard.
I equally wish to request the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the NUJ as well as other well-meaning Nigerians including those from the North East, to rise up and defend their national security interest that is being attacked using the instrumentality of the mischieve being perpetrated by Premium Times.
To the members of the public, I urge you all to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons and objects to the military or to the nearest security agencies. The general public, especially the female students of our tertiary institutions, are urged to be weary of new subtle way of recruitment by suspected BHTs on the internet. Do not fall victim of such trap by being their agents or sympathizer. You have the ability to grow and be productive. Do not join them in any way because BHT ideology is ungodly and the end is always a wasteful life. The BHT may also disguise as menial workers when actually they are fleeing from our onslaught.
On this note, let me thank everyone and state that we remain ever committed to the mandate of Op LAFIYA DOLE.
Major General Leo Irabor
Operation LAFIYA DOLE