Micheal Olubody in Maiduguri
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, monday disclosed that about 300 members of the Boko Haram sect were killed in an air operation undertaken in last few days.
Abubakar made this disclosure while addressing men of the Nigerian Air Force involved in anti-insurgency operations in the North-east in Maiduguri when together with the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, they inaugurated an emergency hospital and borehole for internally displaced persons in Bama.
He said the service now has the capacity to attack at any time, both day and night, and that the insurgents have no more hiding place. Addressing the troops, Abubakar said: “I cannot but say thank you, I am very happy to note that since August 16 to now, you undertook extensive air operation and on account of that we are able to deal with this terrorists trying to make life difficult for our people.”
He added that: “I want to say from the briefing that I received from the air component commander that I am satisfied with what you have done. I am satisfy with the outcome of the air operation.
“Of particular note is the operation you conducted on the 19th of this month, it was a night operation and we were very lucky to deal with these guys (insurgents) who had en-massed somewhere and were planning to go out to attack a target. We are very happy to note that about 300 of them will not be available to commit any evil again.” He said the only way other insurgents will not suffer the same fate is for them to come out and surrender.
Sadiq said: “We have for once deal with them and we want to urge others in their own interest to surrender their rifles and their weapons and come out to hand over themselves and face justice that is the only thing that will safe them. I want to urge you guys to continue this intensive air operations and continue to make it impossible for them to come out to kill innocent Nigerians.”
He told the officers: “We are very happy with the progress you have recorded and I want to assure you also that the Air Force will continue to provide for your needs and we will try as much as possible to build your capacity in the area of training, we will try to address aircraft maintenance challenges so that whenever you fly, you fly with the best of airplanes.
“We also want to assure you that we will provide for your welfare needs especially in the area of accommodation, medical needs and then the needs of your family that are there in different barracks across the country.”
He assured them: “So much is still going to be committed to see that you have the best, to whom much is given much is expected, I am very happy with the progress you have made, the fact that you were able to conduct this night operation has sent a very clear signal to Boko Haram that if they want to continue to live they must come out in their own interest, drop their riffles and face justice.
“If they do not do that, we make sure we get them wherever they hide, with the kind of capacity we have now they have no hiding place. I want to thank you once more and want to tell you to maintain the tempo of this air operation, we will provide you with all that is needed to conduct your operation.”
The Chief of Air Staff requested the unit in Maiduguri to continue to support the IDP camps both in Maiduguri and in Bama.
He said “there is no way you will succeed in fighting counter-insurgency without the support of the community where you are fighting and this is why we introduce this strategy of winning hearts and minds.”
He insisted that: “It is a very important component of what we are doing here, we are not going to stop here as we are willing to extend the strategy of winning hearts and minds to other areas of conflicts, particularly in the South-south and we are going to see how we can add value to whatever is going on there.”
Earlier the Chief of Air Staff in company of Borno State governor and some senior officers from the force and soldiers involved in the counter-insurgency war in the North east had flew to Bama to inaugurate a borehole and emergency hospital built by Nigerian Air Force.
Shettima who spoke at the occasion, thanked the air force for the demonstration of love not only on the field of war but in the gift of the borehole and the hospital.
He said whenever the history of the sad Boko Haram war is written, the name of the Nigerian Air Force and other armed forces and security would be etched in gold.