- Visits Bama, Banki Junction, orders troops to block terrorists’ moves
Senator Iroegbu in Maiduguri
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has disclosed that the Nigerian military will re-strategise and review the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency (CTCOIN) operations in the North-east after the Sambisa forest battle.
Buratai therefore charged the troops engaged in the ongoing ‘Operation Crackdown’ aimed at flushing out the Boko Haram terrorists from their remaining enclaves in the forest to end it quickly.
He said this was in order to improve the performance of troops in the theatre of war against terror.
The army chief disclosed this last Tuesday, while addressing troops at the 7 Division’s Tactical Headquarters in Bama.
Even though Buratai did not give details of the expected changes, he however promised that the planned overhaul would address observable lapses in the ongoing war.
The COAS said: “I want to assure you that as soon as you are through with this phase, we will readjust the policy for this operation.
“We will readjust the deployment, we will re-strategise so that we will have a very new approach to fighting this insurgency.
“We will try to provide all the logistics that you need in this operation, for those of you who have been here for some time, you can see the difference, we have tried to change the way things are done.”
The COAS, who on arrival at the military base in Bama, met with the operational commanders before interacting with the troops, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the troops involved in the special operation to finally rid Sambisa forest of the Boko Haram insurgents, code named `Operation Crack Down’.
He also commended what he described as the troops’ “gallantry and commitment in the operations,” assuring them of President Muhammadu Buhari’s support and the prayers of all Nigerians.
Particularly concerned about the quick end to the current phase of the operation, Buratai urged the troops to sustain the momentum until the remnants of the insurgents in the Sambisa forest and environs were eventually cleared.
The army chief who also inspected troops and equipment mobilisation before they were deployed for the ongoing `Operation Crack Down’ in Sambisa forest, stressed its importance, noting that it will help terminate the existence and safe haven of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.
He continued: “I want to say well done for the operation Lafiya Dole and for the special operation `Operation Crack Down’. I am satisfied with the brief from your General Officer Commanding (GOC).
“This operation is very crucial in the overall plan of the operation as well as the federal government’s plan to end insurgency in the North-east. Your GOC has assured me that you guys will not waste time in this forest, you must smoke them out quickly and face other areas so that you can reunite with your families in good time.
“We are here today to say well done. President Buhari is happy with you and so are other Nigerians.”
In a related development, Buratai, in the company of other senior officers at the army headquarters and Military Command and Control Centre (MCC) in Maiduguri, visited the strategic Banki Junction, where he directed the troops to block movement of insurgents to and from Sambisa forest.
The COAS, while fielding questions wednesday from journalists shortly after monitoring troops’ deployment at Banki junction, in Borno State, said: “The troops are forming a blocking force to prevent the terrorists from moving into Sambisa or coming out of the area.
“I am here to see the ground forces and how they are doing, but there is tremendous operation going on presently inside the main Sambisa forest.”
According to him, Banki visit was to further confirm the movement of troops and equipment and to personally observe the situation in the theatre.
He noted that the location of troops at Banki junction was key in the military’s operations to restrict movement of the insurgents from outside the country through Cameroon or Chad.
Buratai further assured Nigerians that the ground troops supported by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets would continue to hit the forest until the insurgents were eventually cleared.
He said: “You know we were together with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) in Maiduguri where the theatre commander briefed us on the ongoing operation crack down.
“This Banki junction is a major route that links the North to the South and is also bordering Cameroon, and from here, you can also link up with Chad Republic. It is a major route which the Boko Haram insurgents have been using to move between the Sambisa forest and the northern part of the country up to the Lake Chad.
“ So it is an important location which has tactical, strategic as well as operational significance to what we are doing in this region.”