It is a major breakthrough and seen as the last straw on the Islamic group’s stronghold in northeast Nigeria, but it leaves questions about the whereabouts of the remaining abducted Chibok girls taken from their school’s dormitory on April 14, 2014.
Over 200 girls were abducted but less than 70 of them have been rescued since then.
The remaining girls are thought to be held in Sambisa forest, but the Presidency thinks there are chances they were not held in the forest after all.
After a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari announced the fall of ‘camp zero’, a spokesman for the President, Mr Femi Adesina, told Channels Television that “there is no single place which we can say is the bulwark of the Boko Haram”.
“You know their last stand was within Sambisa forest which they had occupied for some time.
“The military entered into it fully, a while back, and they gave the target that by the end of December they wanted to be done with the issue of insurgency and on Thursday, December 22, camp zero fell and that is very significant”.
He said the news was brought to the President by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.
A statement from the presidency had said that members of Boko Haram group were on the run, a situation critics had said was of concern, as the terrorists could run to other states in Nigeria, creating more security issues.
Hidden Away In Different Parts
The president’s spokesman, however, dismissed claims that it could pose security threats, saying that a good number of the terrorists had been killed.
“Those who naturally are alive and escaped would be scattered in different places. Some would likely have gone out of the country and some would have infiltrated into camps and cities.
“That is why the President said we must not let down our guards. He has appealed to Nigerians to blow the whistle against anyone they suspect,” he stated.
Mr Adesina expressed optimism that people in the northeast could sleep with their eyes closed.
He said that what had happened in 2016 was a mop-up process, claiming that the terrorists group had been thoroughly decimated in 2015.
On why more Chibok girls were not rescued as camp zero falls, he said: “Naturally, as the soldiers advanced into Sambisa, they were on the lookout for the girls, but it turned out that till that last camp fell, they did not see any of them. What it therefore means is that may be the girls were not being kept in the forest.
“It is likely they had been spirited out and hidden away in different parts either within or outside the country”.
Not less than 14 camps of the terrorists were destroyed within the forest that was a safe haven for the group that has in the past seven years terrorised communities in Nigeria’s northeast and communities of neighbouring countries along the northeast border.
In the last phase of the mop-up operations, the military said it rescued 1,180 persons.
The Presidency did not say what efforts would be made to free the remaining girls, but Boko Haram had, days after they were taken, said they have been married off.
The last batch of 21 girls among the abducted Chibok girls rescued in October will be in Chibok, their ancestral home for the first time since their abduction to join their families and friends in celebrating the 2016 Christmas.
The girls, who have now become international figures, arrived Yola International Airport secretly and under tight security were received by the Adamawa State Governor, Senator Mohammed Jibrilla.