The Police in Katsina State have rescued two persons who were kidnapped and taken to a place called Sambisa in Zamfara State.
The duo was said to have been kidnapped on November 16, and found on the 21st at a location between Katsina and Zamfara state, in the dreaded Rugu forest.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, SP Gambo Isah, said the victims identified as Kausar Surajo, age 22 years old and Aisha Ibrahim, aged 28, were rescued unhurt.
According to the statement, “the rescue operation was in line with the ‘Operation Puff Adder’ launched by the Inspector General of Police which was led by the DPO of Jibia border town at about 16:00hrs”.
He explained that the operation was carried out on Friday in an air strike conducted by the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE as part of missions in the ongoing Operation GREEN SWEEP 3.
Air Commodore Daramola added that the target was designated for attack based on credible Intelligence reports, which were further corroborated by series of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, which established the settlement as a major hub of Bolo Haram activities.
The military on Friday said one Boko Haram terrorist has been killed in Sambisa region at Gamboru Ngala area of Borno State with many others injured.
In a statement signed by the Deputy Director Public Relations, Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, the military on Friday said the insurgent was killed during an encounter with some members of the Boko Haram group who were fleeing in two gun trucks through Ngala road.
“Troops killed the insurgent and wounded several others at about 6.30 pm in an encounter, with elements of the insurgent group who were fleeing in two gun trucks through Ngala road.
“The gallant troops engaged the insurgents, destroying one of the gun trucks and recovering an anti-aircraft gun, two AK 47 rifles and two magazines abandoned by the fleeing insurgents under the superior firepower of the troops,” the statement read in part.
In another operation, the military said troops on patrol along Jebra – Firgi road at about 1.30 pm also on Thursday averted a plot by Boko Haram terrorists to attack troops and other unsuspecting road users with multiple Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) concealed under foliage along the road.
The three primed IEDs were recovered where they were concealed under shrubs along the road shoulder and connected to a long detonating cable dragged into the bush towards the Sambisa axis.
The IEDs was safely detonated by Operation Lafiya Dole Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.
Also, the troop arrested one Madaki Tumba aka Kalifa, a suspected Boko Haram terrorist was arrested at a location ahead of Limankara.
“The suspect was nabbed on Thursday at about 6.14 pm by troops on patrol while in possession of one M16 rifle and a magazine loaded with 2 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition. He is currently undergoing preliminary investigation,” the statement read in part.
The military said further that the ongoing operations against Boko Haram terrorists, conducted by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole simultaneously in the Sambisa region and the Lake Chad Islands is undoubtedly strangulating the insurgent group, hence its resort to attacking soft targets with suicide bombers and other forms of IEDs in a desperate bid to remain relevant.
The Governor of Borno State Mr Kashim Shettima says there is a good chance that the Chibok girls who are still in captivity can be found in the Sambisa Forest.
Governor Shettima said this in an exclusive interview with Channels Television on Friday, amid continued anticipation about their release or rescue.
He said, “The last time they were picked, they were picked from the banky axis. So probably, for those of them that are under the custody of Shekau, they may be deep in the boil of the Sambisa forest.
“That is my own opinion. For those of them that are with other groups that are dispersed in the Lake Chad region, and in other parts of the state, I don’t think all of them can be got at once. But I believe that those under the custody of Shekau, I believe a substantial number of them can be found in the Sambisa forest.”
Governor Shettima lamented the destruction and level of devastation caused by the attacks of the Boko Haram sect in the region with Borno State being the worst hit.
He said, “The Boko Haram are there in the Sambisa forest, I am not disputing that fact. The Boko Haram are scattered in almost all parts of the state. But they no longer have the strength to hold onto any territory in Nigeria.
“The Boko Haram rolled discussions worth $9Bn in the North East. Borno accounts over $5.6Bbn worth of destruction. The Boko Haram destroyed a total of 900k units of houses in Borno making 30 percent of the total stock of houses.
The Governor praised the signing of the North-East Development Commission bill by president Mohammed Buhari which he says will help give the region a development lift.
“What we witnessed in the North-East in the past 10 years equally requires one of the services of the NEDC. It is a very momentous deal, which will turn out to be a game changer in the North-East Development equation.
“It will give us a platform of having a body charged with the responsibility of harmonising, regulating all the different bodies serving the same purpose.”
The Nigerian Air Force says it has killed several Boko Haram terrorists during a raid on suspected hideouts of the insurgents in Sambisa forest.
According to a statement issued on Wednesday by NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, few terrorists were seen evacuating the remains of dead Boko Haram fighters after a series of airstrikes.
The statement reads: “In furtherance of operations to completely defeat the Boko Haram terrorists organisation, on August 7, 2017, the Nigerian Air Force Component of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Parisu, in the Sambisa general area.
“During the ISR mission, a large group of Boko Haram Terrorists was seen converging under a tree close to a prominent zinc-roofed structure. A confirmatory mission indicated that the structure was indeed a Boko Haram hideout, housing a large number of terrorists.
“Following the first and second strikes, the building was completely destroyed and the location was strafed during the third attack. The fourth attack was redirected to a close by building, where Boko Haram activity was also noticed.
“Subsequent, battle damage assessment revealed that the hideout was completely reduced to rubble and several elements were killed while a few of them were seen evacuating the casualties.”
The Nigerian Air Force says that its fighter jets have successfully destroyed an artillery piece being sneaked into Sambisa Forest by insurgents.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, said the artillery piece was concealed under a tree and sighted by a NAF intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft while on daytime patrol in the Sambisa general area.
Air Commodore Adesanya added that about seven insurgents were also observed to be moving out from under the tree.
The Airforce spokesman believes that with the successful attacks, attempts by the remnants of the insurgents to reinforce their capability with the artillery piece has been thwarted.
Mr Max Gbanite believes that the incident could be as a result of lack of coordination in some cases, stressing that such error was unavoidable.
Making An Excuse For Air Force
“Remember that visibility is an issues in the Sambisa forest area. (It is) for the first time since the war started (that) such error was made (and) it’s not unlikely that such error could happen in any war that is being prosecuted in anywhere in the world.
“I’m not trying to make an excuse for the Nigerian Air Force, (but) we’ve had that happen in Afghanistan when U.S. drones bombed a hospital by mistake. We’ve (also) seen it in Syria where Russian and U.S aircraft bomb hospitals by mistake.
“It is lack of coordination sometimes and again these are technologies that are using more precise bombing than what we are using today,” he explained.
We Can’t Blame Our Air Force
The security expert, however, stated that the military would account for the mistake, saying he was quite sure that the Nigerian Air Force authorities would address the issue fairly.
He urged Nigerians not to hazard the motive behind the mistake yet, but to wait until the military had concluded its investigation.
“We have been fighting this war for the past five years and this (error) just happened now. I think we can’t blame our Air Force but we should wait and hear from the military to know precisely what really happened.
“We need to be patient; they are going to account for this and if there was a mistake on the part of the Air Force, I’m quite sure the Chief of Air Staff will make sure something is done about this,” Mr Gbanite said on Sunrise Daily.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, says the Nigerian Air Force has acquired two more Mi-35M combat helicopters from Russia Federation to enhance its capability in ongoing internal security efforts.
He has also given the assurance that the Nigerian Air Force remains committed to ensuring that the current gains in the war against Boko Haram terrorists in North East Nigeria is sustained.
Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, who was speaking at a media briefing in Maiduguri to acquaint the press with the activities of the Air Force in 2016, said air patrol and intelligence gathering was still in progress.
“The aircrafts have been delivered awaiting official induction after which they will be launched for operations.
“We have also installed camera on two of our Beechcrafts NAF 202 and NAF 204 and upgraded the camera on another Beechcraft NAF 201 all in 2016,” the Air Chief stated.
The air bombardment of the camp zero and general area of the Sambisa forest by the air component of the Operation Lafia Dole paved way for the ground forces to advance and succeed in the operation.
The Air Chief said that the Air Force would not relent in its air campaign efforts to ensure that dislodged terrorists do not regroup or attack communities or the ground forces carrying out mop up operations.
According the Air Marshall, three EC-135 helicopters ceded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the NAF in March 2016 are undergoing reactivation processes to boost the number of serviceable platforms.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has praised the Nigerian Military for its recent successes, especially the clearing of Boko Haram terrorists’ stronghold, the Sambisa forest.
The party, in a statement by its spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, on Tuesday described the feat as an important milestone.
They also commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against insurgency, stressing that he has built on the efforts of his predecessors.
Long And Bitter Struggle
According to the statement: “A few days ago, the military hierarchy announced that the military has cleared the dreaded Sambisa forest of Boko Haram terrorists. This is a welcome development in the fight against terrorism.
“We congratulate Nigerians for this important milestone in the long and bitter struggle against the forces of evil that have wreaked so much suffering and hardship on our people in the last few years.
“We also congratulate the President for his dogged pursuit of the war against insurgency. We are happy that he has built on the efforts of his Predecessors. Whatever we are witnessing now is as a result of all the efforts and sacrifices of the past and present. Nigerians and the international community will recall that the war effort received a major boost in the weeks leading up to the 2015 general elections. The insurgents were virtually annihilated – a feat that made it possible for elections to hold peacefully in almost all the local government areas of all the states in the Northeast last year. We are therefore very much delighted with the continuation of this great effort by the President.
Fighting With Great Courage
“We salute the men and women of our beloved armed forces. Their courage, determination and sacrifice made this achievement possible. The men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces have served and continue to serve with distinction in many peacekeeping operations all over the world. We salute them for fighting with great courage to keep the peace in their own country.
“We also thank the international community for their support and encouragement, particularly those countries that have helped in the procurement of critical military hardware”.
The opposition party, however warned that the clearing of the Sambisa forest was a critical milestone but not the end of the war against insurgency and urged the government and the military not rest on their oars.
“The hot pursuit of the terrorists must continue unabated and relentlessly until the entire Northeast is rid completely of them.
“Beyond Sambisa, all the other forests which criminals used as hideouts and bases must equally be cleared by the military. Forests such as Birnin Gwari, Zamfara, Southern Kaduna, Enugu and Benue have become killing fields. They must all be cleared of criminal elements,” the PDP stated.
It further stressed that “all hands must be on deck to ensure the peace and unity of our dear country without which we can never hope to meet our developmental aspirations”.
Five soldiers, three vigilantes and one Civilian JTF member have been killed in an ambush on troops in Ugundiri village, Damboa Local Government Area, Borno State.
The Operation Lafiya Dole troops, who were carrying out clearance operations on suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ hideouts in Talala and Ajigin, southern part of the state were ambushed while returning to base after clearance operations on Saturday.
The attack also left 19 soldiers and one Civilian JTF member with various degrees of injuries.
According to Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, the bodies of the dead soldiers and civilians have been evacuated to Maiduguri while the injured are receiving appropriate medical care and are in stable condition.
He stated further that the troops were able to destroy the terrorists’ gun truck and recovered two anti-aircraft guns, two spare gun barrels, one general purpose machine gun, one rocket propelled grenade, one AK-47 rifle and 320 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.
Troops have also been mobilized into blocking positions to further neutralize fleeing Boko Haram terrorists.
He added that another set of troops had earlier cleared Zira, Abulam, Dusula, and Buk villages before returning to base in Bulabulin.
“In a related development, based on information received about gathering of some suspected Boko Haram terrorists around Bori village, which is 16 kilometres away from Mainok, outskirts of Maiduguri, troops swung into action and neutralized them.
“The troops recovered three motorcycles, one hand grenade, one round of 7.62mm ammunition, solar panel, a pair of Niger Republic military camouflage uniform, one mobile telephone handset, one wet cell battery and half bag of groundnut,” he said.
Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole on patrol from Bama to Pulka, intercepted suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ drugs and other logistics suppliers in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
The suppliers were arrested at a suspected Boko Haram terrorists crossing point within Firgi and Zawan axis while trying to cross into Sambisa forest on Sunday.
A statement by the spokesman for the army, Colonel Sani Usman, said that the troops pursued them but were only able to apprehend two of them while others fled into the bush.
Items recovered from Kadiri Umate, 35, were packets of 500ml of Glocose Intravenous infusion (Drip), assorted analgenics and pain killer drugs, clothes, bathroom slippers, insecticides, salt, kola nuts and a bicycle.
The suspect is undergoing preliminary investigations.
In another operation at Muna garage, a suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ logistics and fuel supplier, Fantoma Lasani, was arrested by troops in conjunction with Civilian JTF at Muna garage when he came to pick his wife to finally relocate out of Maiduguri.
“The suspect, from Flatari village, Bama Local Government Area, is among some unpatriotic elements in the society that had been supplying Boko Haram terrorists with Premium Motor Spirit and Automative Gas Oil in Bama, Gwoza and Sambisa general area,” the statement added.
Eyewitnesses say the suicide bomber was sighted along Damboa road, the same place where an explosion occurred barely 24 hours ago.
Frightened motorists travelling to Damboa-Biu were forced to turn back due to confusion.
Channels Television’s reporter who was at the Bakassi IDP camp reports that the suspect fled towards the back fence of the camp, where five people were killed on Saturday, with men of the sector Nine and civilian JTF in hot pursuit of the assailant.
A former military officer, Sunday Adoba, on Monday admitted that the military was aware of the location of the Chibok girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists two years ago.
“They are within the Gambalu Dam axis.
“In about late June or early July, we knew some of them were handed over to one Mala Yamari who is an Amir of the sect,” he told Channels Television while answering questions focused on military efforts to rescue the girls.
The Boko Haram group, who were formerly said to be residing within a location called “Camp Zero” of the Sambisa forest, have now purportedly relocated.
Mr Adoba said that the ‘Camp Zero’ had not been attacked and was not an issue presently, as the entire Boko Haram group had moved out of the main Sambisa to somewhere close to the Gambalu Dam.
Gates Of The Sambisa
Mr Adoba confirmed that the important areas for now were the Bama, Conduga axis in terms of military significance.
In his words: “They are the areas that you can now get what you want from. They are just within the gates of the Sambisa.
Ever since the girls were handed over, his team has been monitoring the activities around the current location of the insurgents.
“Their strength has improved and they have increased in number within this same area where these video clips were taken.
“So to me, I don’t think it is possible for us to say we do not know where they are. I think we do.
“I don’t have personal contact with the Chibok girls or the families, but the fact remains that consistently ever since their abduction, we have tried to link up both with the Military, the Borno State Government and other interested parties excluding the BBOG [Bring Back Our Girls] group”.
The former Army Officer, who believes that the girls are being used for a purpose, opined that “the world has come to accept the fact that these girls are important and the Boko Haram know that the importance of their campaign, for now, depends entirely on these girls.
“So they won’t just let go, we would have to fight to pick these girls out of their domain”.
He also revealed that in May, four girls were said to be married off to some Boko Haram leaders around the Goza hills.
Air Force Bombardment
The retired military officer said that his team told the Air Force not to drop bombs around certain areas, as most of the girls had been moved out of the bunkers and were staying under trees.
However, regarding the truth about the reports that some of the girls had been killed by Air Force bombardment, he said it was a 50-50 issue.
He further explained that “one cannot tell the radius to which a bomb explodes, as it depends on the surface where it lands”.
Mr Adoba assured Nigerians that the girls were well protected by the Boko Haram who also give them preferential treatment compared to other hostages, apart from those that have been married out.
On how the girls could be identified, he said they could easily be known in terms of language and level of protection, as they are not allowed to move around the way other hostages move.
He also mentioned that despite the Boko Haram movement around Sambisa, a lot of communities still existed there, from which they receive some inside information.
Military Should Be Properly Equipped
The retired military officer, however, expressed hopes about the possibility of rescuing the girls.
“It is possible for these girls to be located and rescued but it requires equipping the military with the right equipment and the right motivation to get this thing done”.
“I sincerely believe the military is doing a lot. At least presently over 75% of the remaining Boko Haram Camps have been cleared, So I expect that with less than 25% camps left, the military should be able to get these girls.”
He explained that one of the reasons the military had not been successful was because they launched out at an inappropriate time.
“The military went into the Sambisa forest and I have said it repeatedly, not once nor twice, that Sambisa is an area that you can only operate within the dry season, it shouldn’t be the rainy season.
“They went in in May, and they had to get stuck because the terrain wasn’t very conducive and they were very close to their objective, yet they could not achieve that immediate aim which to the very best of my knowledge was going to the camp, popularly known as the ‘Camp Zero’, where the Boko Haram had their headquarters, where we believe they had the girls in the bunkers,” he said.
The former army officer opined that when vital leads are provided by the intelligence officers, there should always be proper interaction between all parties involved in order to trace the locations that are being mentioned.
He pointed out that some of the other problems that had contributed to the issue were equipment, communication, and the efficiency of the air-force.
“If the air force has enough helicopter gunship, transport, I don’t see why our paratroopers or the airborne group cannot do this job and we need a lot of light, fast moving vehicles,” he added.