By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
Troops of 3 Battalion, of 22 Task Force Brigade have arrested four Boko Haram terrorists kingpins known as Ameers at Rann, headquarters of Kala Balge Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State.
This is as the Army has reminded members of the public that the 9pm-6am curfew arrangement imposed on Maiduguri, the Capital of Borno State, as one of the measures to counter the activities of Boko Haram terrorists was still in force.
Also, remnants of Boko Haram terrorists, who were cornered by the Nigerian troops in some enclaves in Borno State, have in a sign of desperation and survival, found an innovative way of converting vegetable oil to fuel.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, said the kingpins who were apprehended yesterday, specialised on various aspects of criminality aimed at sustaining the terrorists group in their areas.
According to Usman, the four terrorists were arrested following a tip off by well-meaning members of the public.
Subsequently, he said, the troops conducted a cordon and search operation in the general area that led to the apprehension of the terrorist leaders, who contribute to the sustenance of the insurgency through their illegal trade specialisation.
The Army Spokesman listed the arrested kingpins to include: Umara Mai Gyaran Rediyo (Radio Technician), Umaru Mai Nama, (who specialise in cattle rustling and sales), Alifa Makinta (a specialist on stealing foodstuffs) and Balu Jugudum (in charge of stolen jewelries).
In a related development, Usman said the military were also able to carry out clearance operations, raids and patrols that resulted in the killing of many suspected Boko Haram terrorists, arrests and rescue of persons, as well as recovery of arms and ammunitions.
He said: “The troops of 7 Division Special Fighting Forces attached to 25 Task Force Brigade Damboa, at a checkpoint, arrested a suspected Boko Haram terrorist, Abubakar Bello and six other suspects carrying 28 gallons of “Turkey” brand of vegetable oil, eight bags of flour, 130 crates of soft drinks and two bags of sugar.
“In addition, five mobile telephone handsets, external hard drive and five flash drives, two national identity cards and the sum of Seventy Thousand Naira (N70,000.00k) only were recovered from him. Preliminary investigation discovered that the terrorists now dilute the vegetable oil with other substances to produce diesel to power their generators.”
In a related development, Usman said that the troops of 254 Task Force Battalion in conjunction with vigilantes and Borno Youths Empowerment Scheme (BOYES), also carried out clearance operations at Mufurundi, Kaleri, Masemari, Bego, Bale, Gadzama and Gagantilo villages along Damboa-Bale-Gwoza road.
He said that during the operation, troops encountered and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), buried by the terrorists at Gadzama village.
“They also encountered Boko Haram terrorists at Bego where they engaged the terrorists, neutralised them and cleared their camps within the general area,” he added.
According to the DAPR, the troops had during the encounter killed nine Boko Haram terrorists and recovered an AK-47 rifle with registration number TH5712 and 17 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition.
He said that the military “also rescued 157 persons held hostages by the terrorists”.
In the same vein, Usman disclosed that the troops of 26 Task Force Brigade stationed in Gwoza on Thursday intercepted eight suspected Boko Haram terrorists, trying to enter Gwoza town.
The Army Spokesman said that even though the suspects claimed to be farmers coming from Shiadawey, Takwala and Amdaga Madachi villages respectively, which were known terrorists hideouts, preliminary investigations showed that they were terrorists on a recruitment drive.
This, he stressed, was made manifest when the sum of Six Hundred and Thirty Seven Thousand (N637,000.00k) Naira was discovered on Abdullahi Yakubu who was identified by another escapee/suspected Boko Haram terrorist as having trading links with the terrorists while the others were confirmed to have participated in carrying out various terrorists acts for the Boko Haram terrorists group.
He also said that one Ibrahim Bute aged 67, of Gobara village was arrested by the troops on suspicion of being a Boko Haram kingpin.
In the same vein, Usman said that the troops of 114 Task Force Battalion of 28 Task Force Brigade also conducted a fighting patrol along Bitta-Madube-Izge axis same day.
“The troops of 117 Task Force Battalion following a tip off, also arrested a suspected Boko Haram terrorist who gave his name as Bello Isah at Mugulvu village. The unit also discovered and retrieved 29 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) rounds of ammunition hidden at a farm in Gella village.
“The troops in various deployments within the theatre remain vigilant with soaring morale and committed to their duties of clearing the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists hiding in various remote corners and crannies,” he added.
The Army Spokesman also stated that the troops of 21 Brigade Nigerian Army had on Thursday, carried out clearance operations at Bulari, Tori 1, 2 and 3 during which they successfully cleared the general area of remnants of Boko Haram terrorists.
During the operation, he said, 10 terrorists were killed and one was captured alive. Unfortunately, he noted, two Civilian JTF accompanying the troops lost their lives.
According to him, the troops rescued seven civilians and recovered a Volkswagen Golf car, 15 bicycles and various bags of foodstuffs.
Usman further stated: “The troops of 22 Brigade on the other hand intercepted 26 persons comprising mostly women and children, coming towards Adah village in Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State, who on interrogation stated that they were held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists, but escaped as their captors were moving towards Lake Chad general area because of troops presence.
“Similarly, troops of the same Brigade carried out a fighting patrol, cordon and search operation on Thursday 21st April 2016, along Dikwa-Marte road, Kaje, Selenge, Manekura, Mane Gana and Gawayi villages. Although there wasn’t any encounter with the terrorists, the troops recovered five motorcycles, six Boko Haram terrorists flags and four bags of grounded corn in Mane Gana village.
“They also rescued three women and five children at the same village. The rescued persons told the troops that their husbands were actually Boko Haram terrorists who have ran away towards Lake Chad area due to immense pressure from the military clearance operations.”
On their part, he said, troops of 3 Battalion also conducted patrol towards Diema, Sigel and Kala in which they had an encounter with Boko Haram terrorists in which the gallant troops killed eight of them and recovered three Dane Guns and four assorted batteries.
The Deputy Director of Army Public Relations (DDAPR), Col. Mustapha Anka, in a statement yesterday, said that it had come to the notice of Headquarters 7 Division Nigerian Army Operation Lafiya Dole that some members of the public violated orders on curfew imposed in Maiduguri and environs.
Anka warned that “violations of curfew threatens the relative peace being enjoyed in Maiduguri town.
“Please be reminded that a legitimate curfew in Maiduguri imposed from 9pm to 6am is still in force. The Division wish to inform the general public that despite the successes recorded against Boko Haram Insurgents across the state, the fight against insurgency is not yet over”.
The DDAPR said that Borno State Government and Headquarters Theatre Command would at the appropriate time review the curfew in line with prevailing security situation across the state.
Anka reiterated that anyone found flaunting the orders will be arrested and prosecuted.
“All law abiding citizens and peace loving people of Borno State are hereby advised to report any suspicious person(s) to nearest military post, security agencies or Civilian Joint Task Force,” he urged.