Boko Haram insurgents have been vanquished from Nigeria’s soil and no more operating anywhere in the country, the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has disclosed.
Its spokesman Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu said the insurgents had been pushed to the Tombus Islands on the fringes of Lake Chad.
“Boko Haram is not occupying any part of this country,” he said in reference to a claim attributed to Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum that Boko Haram was occupying two local government areas in the state.
Gen. Nwachukwu said: “I want to make it clear that Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) have been defeated and pushed into what we call the Tombus Islands.
“These are the islands between Nigeria and neighboring countries of Niger and Chad, where they have their enclave and from where they come out and carry out attacks on soft targets. Boko Haram is not holding any inch of the country.”
On the activities of the joint operations coordinated by the DHQ, he said there were five of them.
They are Operation Safe Haven, Operation Hadarin Daji, Operation Thunder Strike, Operation Whirl Stroke and Operation Delta Safe.
The DHQ spokesman said activities by the operations had increased across the country in the last three months, resulting in what he called tremendous achievements.
Gen. Nwachukwu said Leah Sharibu had not been rescued because troops were cautious not to put her and other captives in greater danger.
Sharibu is one of the 109 schoolgirls abducted on February 19, 2018 by insurgents at the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, in Yobe State.
Others were freed but Sharibu was held back by the insurgents for allegedly refusing to denounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.
Christian leaders in the North under the aegis of the Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) on Sunday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to secure her freedom as Christmas gift.
But Gen. Nwachukwu assured that the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were working tirelessly to ensure that Sharibu and other persons still in Boko Haram captivity were rescued alive.
He said: “Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have been treading cautiously because these people are all in the hands of terrorists and any reckless move may result in their annihilation by the terrorists just to ward off the troops. It is a very complex and risky operation but the troops are working day and night to ensure that they are rescued.”
Under Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), Nwachukwu disclosed that the troops averted 64 attempted infractions on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) pipelines.
He added that the troops also arrested 27 suspected militants/pirates, recovered nine AK47 riffles with 755 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.
According to him, OPDS also embarked on rigorous anti-kidnapping operations, resulting in the rescue of over 43 victims and arrest of four kidnaapping
He said that troops under Operation Hadarin Daji in Zamfara State and its environ arrested 389 suspected bandits, 48 suspected kidnappers and rescued 1,048 kidnap victims within the period under review.
Gen. Nwachukwu said the troops also recovered 5,567 rustled cattle, 2,499 sheep, 973 goats, 15 camels and 14 donkeys.
Other items recovered from the bandits, he said, were 58 AK-47 rifles, five G3 riffles, five FN riffles, seven pump action guns and 95 locally-made guns.
Others are three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 12,803 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 100 rounds of cartridges and 128 magazines.
He explained that Operation Whirl Stroke was initiated to address the herders/farmers and communal clashes in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba.
The spokesman added that troops of Operation Whirl Stroke conducted over 32 offensive operations against armed herdsmen, militia gangs and suspected kidnapping camps in the last three months.
He explained that the troops destroyed 82 kidnappers’ makeshift camps, arrested over 266 bandits, one illegal arm manufacturer and three gunrunning kingpins and recovered 217 assorted assault weapons and 4,201 rounds of ammunition.
According to him, efforts of Operation Whirl Stroke also paved the way for 266,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their ancestral homes.