(By Charles Adegbite)
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned Nigerians to be vigilant against sudden attacks from radical islamic terror group Boko Haram, who the military said has been routed from their main base of operations at Sambisa, Borno State, and may have spread to other parts of the country.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President indicated that the leader of the terror group, Abubakar Shekau, and his lieutenants will be eliminated.
Explaining why the military has not been able to capture Shekau or decisively win the war, the President’s adviser said: “This is asymmetric war. If it were to be conventional war, once the enemies are overpowered, they will surrender and you win the battle. But in asymmetric war there will still be a pocket of strikes here and there until you are able to exterminate the remnants of those behind them.”
Adesina pointed out that the terrorists who fled from Sambisa might have spread to other parts of the country, and that Nigerians have to be extremely vigilant and be more security conscious to avoid being victims of sudden attacks.
Over 20,000 Nigerians have been killed since the terror insurgency started.
“December 2015 was the target to technically defeat Boko Haram, and by that time we had defeated the insurgents to a large extent.
“By that time their ability to launch concentrated attacks had been defeated. Before that time, Boko Haram would take their battle to military formations, police stations, government institutions and establishments,” the adviser said.
In 2016 the military continued what it called a ‘mop up exercise’, resulting in its take over of Camp Zero (Sambisa Forest) – the redoubt of the terror group – an operation that led to the loss of the position by the terror group.
On what the government was doing to allay people’s fear and guarantee security of lives and property, Adesina said that there is a vast intelligence gathering and safety arrangements underway, which at the present time remains classified for security reasons.
He, however, urged Nigerians to be security conscious and alert security operatives whenever they see any suspicious movement or strange activities that could threaten security of lives anywhere.
Regarding the still at large terror leader, Adesina said:
“Nobody really knows whether there is only one Shekau or there are many Shekaus.
“When you watch some of those videos some people will tell you the mannerism of some people presenting as Shekau are different from the original Shekau.
“But whether it is the original Shekau or a fake Shekau, one thing is clear, and that is that he will meet his [end] one day. All his commanders, unless they surrender now, they will meet their [end].”