Following weekend’s bombardment of Boko Haram by troops, Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai yesterday declared that the Boko Haram insurgents have been defeated by troops in the northeast.
He spoke at a special service to commemorate the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, held at ST Bartholomew’s Military Church, Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri.
Gen. Buratai, represented by Maj.-Gen. David Ahmadu, the Chief of Training and Operations, Army Headquarters, said the military had won the war against insurgency.
He revealed that the military had recorded successes in the intensified offensive, routed and defeated the insurgents, adding that the military was committed to the restoration of peace to the region.
At the weekend, a major factional leader of the insurgents’ group, Mamman Nur was wounded, his wife killed, many insurgents also killed and thousands captured while several others fled the onslaught at their enclaves in Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad region.
Hundreds of civilians were also freed by troops from terrorists’ captivity in the ongoing clearance operation in the past one week.
Gen. Buratai decried the insurgents’ recruitment of the teeming unemployed youths that lack morality and are illiterates in their fight.
The chief of army staff admonished parents to ensure proper moral upbringing of their wards to protect them from being used by bad elements to foment troubles and disrupt peace in the society.
“I want to assure you without mincing words that the Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated, all we are fighting for now is the peace in the northeast.
“Character begins from home; if the children or the youth do not listen to their parents then there is problem. It is the responsibilities of parents to ensure that they disciplined their children.
“And the children too must have something to give back by being disciplined, educated, try to behave well wherever they go and without being deceived by anyone to do what is bad”.
Gen. Buratai stressed the commitments of the military to end insurgency, protect lives and property and secure the nation’s territorial integrity.
He noted that the Nigerian Army had contributed to peace building in various countries across the globe including African sub-region.
The army chief added that their sacrifices of the fallen heroes would be immortalise by ensuring unity, peace and stability in the country.
Gen. Buratai charged the soldiers not to allow themselves to be hoodwinked by self- seeking individuals who promote hate speech and to remain dedicated and professional in the discharge of their duties.
While commending President Muhamadu Buhari over his support to the military, the Chief Army Staff tasked commanders to ensure effective utilisation of equipment and logistics provided to facilitate successful completion of the counter-insurgency campaign.
Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, disclosed that the troops had recorded significant success in various operations against the insurgents in Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad region in the past few days.
Gen. Nicholas assured that the counter-insurgency campaign would soon be concluded.
The News Aagency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlights of the events included special prayer session for the fallen heroes, orphans and widows as well as prayer for the nation and success of Operation Lafiya Dole.
Also yesterday, Gen. Buratai urged Northern youths, particularly those in the Northeast, to shun terrorism and other violent acts and channel their energies to productive ventures.
Buratai made the appeal in Monguno, at the final of the maiden Chief of Army Staff Football tournament between Ajeri FC of Monguno and River Side FC of Damasak.
River Side FC won the championship by a lone goal through a penalty in the first half.
He asked them to channel their energies toward acquiring education and skills through which they could realise their ambition.
Gen. Buratai promised that the Nigerian army would continue to provide opportunities for the youth to express themselves and showcase their God-given talents.
“To this end, I call on the youth of northern Borno and indeed the youth of the Northeast to shun and reject terrorism.
“The youths, who are the future leaders, should continue to cooperate with the authorities, army and indeed other security agencies by promptly reporting suspicious persons within their midst in order to ensure a more secured environment.
“I tell you right now, so many of them are on the run; the Boko Haram terrorists are on the run.
“I urge you to be very careful of any strange face or any of your colleagues or friends that have been misled to join them.
“As soon as they appear or come back, do not waste time, report them immediately to the nearest security agency.
“There is the need to consolidate on the already achieved security atmosphere,” the army chief said.
Gen. Buratai said that when he visited Monguno two years ago, the town was completely deserted due to attacks by the terrorists.
He gave glory to the Almighty God for the return of peace to the town, necessitating the people’s to return to re-start their lives.
He said that the tournament confirmed the state of security in Northern Borno had improved.
“I want to say that this particularly achievement is made possible by each and every one of you here. I know it has not been easy as some of you are still in the IDP camps.
“Today’s occasion is symbolic; it is an indication that it is time for everyone to go back to his/her home.
“This game has shown the resilience of the youth and indeed the commitment of the people to go back to their homes and begin live again after the devastating experience with the Boko Haram terrorists.
“I want to say that their – terrorists- days are numbered Insha Allah.
“The end to this threat to lives and property is near,’’ he added.
According to him, the defeat of the terrorists is not a claim, but a reality.
Also addressing troops of 8 Division at Monguno, headquarters of Monguno Local Government Area of Borno State, the COAS urged the troops to be determined in their efforts to stablilise their area of operation and overcome the insurgency.
His words: “We must remain here to stabilise it. You all know that we have some few attacks here and there by the same elements, but I assure you that their days are numbered.
“With your efforts, with your determination, we will finally overcome the Boko Haram challenge.”
The COAS noted that the creation of the 8 Division was a “major strategic decision” which helped in addressing the challenge of Boko Haram insurgency in Borno North.
“I want to say that this division has lived up to its expectation of containing the Boko Haram challenge here. What remains is for us to continue to stabilise and continue to operate, to prevent any element that may raise their heads in the future.