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Troops Recover Shekau’s Qur’an, Flag From Sambisa Forest |The Republican News

Our Reporter

Troops recover Shekau’s Qur’an, flag

 

The military gave more details yesterday about the capture of Sambisa Forest, including Camp Zero and Camp S (shape), the last bastion of the Boko Haram insurgents.

The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the military team that battled the sect, Major-Gen. Lucky Irabor, said yesterday that sect leader Abubakar Shekau’s Qur’an and flag were recovered.

Gen. Irabor, who gave an update on “Operation Rescue Final’’ in Maiduguri, said: “We believe that the Holy Book and the flag were abandoned by Abubakar Shekau while he escaped.

“The book will be taken to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Burutai, for onward presentation to Mr President.

“We have also made a lot of arrests. Our troops in Damboa arrested about 15 Boko Haram members. We also arrested one Musa from Potiskum on Christmas Day.

“On Dec. 26 our troops also intercepted two Boko Haram suspects in Maiduguri.

“We, therefore, warn residents of the state to be wary of people coming to hide in and around their houses.

“We are also warning residents to report any suspected Boko Haram members hiding in their houses to the relevant security agencies and any failure to do that would be tantamount to supporting and sympathising with the sect’s activities,’’ he said.

Gen. Irabor added that troops arrested about 1,240 suspected terrorists during a mop-up operation by troops inside the forest.

According to him, 413 of the suspects were adults; 323 were women; 251 male children and 253 were female children.

He said: “We are interrogating them to know whether they are Boko Haram members, because there is no way somebody that is not their member would live inside Sambisa forest.

“We are still on the trail of the terrorists and I want to assure you that all escape routes have been blocked.

“Within this period, also, about 30 fleeing suspected Boko Haram members have surrendered to the Niger Multinational Troops on the shores of the lake Chad and we learnt that they were taken to Diffa in Niger Republic.

“The suspects include 24 male and six female.

“We would like to use this opportunity to encourage the terrorists to give up the fight because the window is still open,” the commander said.

Gen. Irabor noted that the Sambisa Forest was abandoned without any government presence which made it easy for the insurgents to take advantage of the area.

He said the activities of the army in the area would not affect the original purpose of the land which is a game reserve.

He added that the army would construct roads into the forest, and called on the government and other individuals to support the army in its endeavour to succeed in the fight.

He said the operation was still on going at the Sambisa forest and other parts of the North East to ensure a total wipe out of the terrorists

Gen. Irabor pleaded with individuals and organisations to assist the military with useful information about the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists in their midst and support or logistics to end the insurgency completely and permanently.

He urged the government to move in quickly and establish civil authorities in the liberated areas to enable residents  return to their various communities.

“Let me state that we have won the war by destroying terrorists’ fortress, and smoked them out from this forest. We are however in a transition phase after winning the war against Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism. We need to win the peace now”

The Theatre Commander also denied the picture of a Whiteman being circulated on the social media as a suspect arrested by troops during the operation in Sambisa forest.

“That picture of the Whiteman being circulated as an arrested Boko Haram suspect from Sambisa Forest is not from us. That picture is not from the army. It is not our picture”, Gen. Irabor said.

Niger Republic’s Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum said dozens of Boko Haram fighters had given themselves up to authorities in southern Niger.

The minister said 31 young people from Diffa, who were enrolled a few years ago in Boko Haram, decided to surrender.

The fighters arrived in the remote desert town of Diffa in groups and were being held by local authorities.

“I learnt that the first who surrendered were not arrested, and I surrendered.

“We expect a pardon from the government so that we can participate in the development of the country and help us get rid of the trauma,’’ a former Boko Haram combatant told reporters.

In June, tens of thousands of people fled Diffa as Boko Haram swept the region.

Five Niger Republic soldiers were killed by the militants near Diffa in September.

It was not clear what would become of the ex-Boko Haram fighters, but authorities said there was the possibility of reintegrating them back into society.

A security source said a meeting had been  held in Diffa to discuss “the conditions of surrender”, without providing further details.

Boko Haram has killed 15,000 people and displaced over two million during a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in Nigeria.

In recent years, its attacks have spilled into neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Hundreds of Boko Haram fighters surrendered in Chad in October and November as the group ceded territory.

The group controlled an area about the size of Belgium in early 2015 but has since been pushed back by international forces, including troops from Niger.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday announced that the army captured Boko Haram’s  last enclave in the vast Sambisa forest on Friday.  (The Nation)

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How Nigerian Army Captured Sambisa Forest, By Buhari |The Republican News

Augustine Ehikioya

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President Muhammadu Buhari

•Hails troops for taking Boko Haram stronghold

Nigerians yesterday received one of the most soul-lifting messages yet from President Mohammadu Buhari: the routing of the terror sect Boko Haram from its stronghold of Sambisa Forest in Borno State.

The entire 1300 square kilometre forest fell into the   hands of the soldiers at about 1.35pm on Thursday, according to Buhari in what he himself called “the long-awaited and most gratifying news.”

He said he was delighted at the news and “most proud of the gallant troops,” which made it all possible.

He particularly acknowledged “the determination, courage and resilience of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at ‘Camp Zero’, which is located deep within the heart of Sambisa Forest.”

He was briefed on the development by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.

Buhari confirmed that that the terrorists “are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide.”

His message: “I am delighted at, and most proud of the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army, on receipt of the long-awaited and most gratifying news of the final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest.

“I want to use this opportunity to commend the determination, courage and resilience of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at “Camp Zero”, which is located deep within the heart of Sambisa Forest.

“I was told by the Chief of Army Staff that the Camp fell at about 1:35pm on Friday, December 22, and that the terrorists are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide.  I urge you to maintain the tempo by pursuing them and bringing them to justice.

“I, therefore, call on all Nigerians to cooperate and support the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies by providing useful information that will expose all the terrorists hiding among the populace.

“Further efforts should be intensified to locate and free our remaining Chibok girls still in captivity. May God be with them.

“I also want to congratulate and commend the able leadership of the Nigerian Army in particular and indeed, that of the Armed Forces in general, for making this possible. This, no doubt, will go a long way in improving the security situation not only in the North East, but the country in general.  But we must not let our guards down.

“Once more, congratulations to our troops and all who, in one way or the other, contributed to this most commendable and momentous effort. May the Almighty continue to be with you.

“I wish you a Merry Christmas and a most rewarding and peaceful Year 2017 ahead.”

Buratai separately lauded the efforts and sacrifices of “gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army currently engaged in the counter insurgency operations in the North East and other operations across the country and abroad.”

He gave the commendation in a Christmas and New Year message to the personnel.

He congratulated them for their “bravery, doggedness and loyalty in these endeavours,” and urged them to “maintain the momentum and remain steadfast as we continue to professionally and responsively carryout our constitutional roles.”

He pledged to continue to “ensure that troops’ welfare and that of their families, remains my utmost priority.”

He also assured them of “Federal Government’s commitment to providing the Nigerian Army with the requisite support for us to perform our duties.

“The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged his total support to the Armed Forces to bring all ongoing operations to an end in favour of our dear country.

“This festive season heralds peace as well as a time for merriment, sober reflection and introspection. I enjoin us all to continue to pray to the Almighty God for the repose of the souls of our fallen comrades and the wellbeing of the families of our brave fallen heroes,” the army said.

While thanking the officers and men for the good job they had done in 2016, he said they should look forward to “making greater progress in 2017.”

He wished them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

However, the ouster of the insurgents from Sambisa does not necessarily translate into an end to other forms of terrorism by the extremists.

These include suicide bombings, and assaults on villages, gatherings and military locations in the Northeast.

The Sambisa Forest which Gen. Buratai last March said is  about the size of Enugu State had served Boko Haram in various ways including its operational base, training camps, and hideout for its leaders, foot soldiers and their families.

Most of the over 200 Chibok school girls that were abducted in April 2014 are believed to have been kept in the forest for some time.

Some of the girls were released in October after protracted negotiations with the terrorists. (Punchng.com)

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