- FG hail gallant troops, opens key roads in Borno
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna
Former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), has hailed the recapture of Sambisa forest from the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, saying the achievement has shown the capability and professional competence of officers and men of the Nigerian military.
This came as the federal government, in the spirit of the yuletide, yesterday congratulated the ‘gallant’ troops of the Nigerian military for routing out the Boko Haram terrorist group from Sambisa forest and restoring security in the North-east, a development that fast-tracked the re-opening of two strategic roads in Borno State on Christmas day.
Babangida, in a statement made available to the media in Minna monday, said the achievement has also gone a long way to reinforce the confidence of the people in the armed forces.
According to him, “It is a sign of relief that the military has finally smoked out Boko Haram terrorists from their notorious enclave in the Sambisa Forest.”
Babangida also saluted the courage and determination of President Muhammadu Buhari, army chiefs as well as armed men and women and other security personnel for their sacrifice to painfully liberate Sambisa Forest and adjoining areas of Boko Haram.
“May I rejoice with the government and Nigerians on the successful dislodgment of Boko Haram terrorists from their base in Sambisa,” he stated.
The former military leader expressed the hope that with the successful liberation of Sambisa forest, “very soon, the remaining Chibok girls would be located and reunited with their families.”
He reaffirmed his earlier stand that “President Buhari and the military are capable of crushing any aggression on any part of the country.”
Babangida paid tribute to all the fallen heroes for paying the supreme price in their efforts to keep the country safe from aggressors, saying: “The Labour of our heroes past shall never been in vain.”
He advised the military to unveil a new strategy that would lead to the defeat of pockets of terrorists, bandits and cattle rustlers all over the country.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement issued monday, appealed to Nigerians for continued support for the troops as they clear the remnants of the terrorists now on the run.
Mohammed also called for increased vigilance by Nigerians, warning that some of the Boko Haram escapees would seek to integrate themselves into communities.
‘’We urge Nigerians to keep our gallant and victorious troops in their prayers, and to also imbibe the mantra of ‘if you see something, say something’ as a way of ensuring that no escaped terrorist is able to wreak havoc in their communities.
“It is also important to know that now that they have been dispossessed of their fortress, the Boko Haram escapees will intensify their cowardly attacks on vulnerable targets if only to maintain an illusion of terror. But there should be no panic because the worst is over,” Mohammed said.
While commending the military for re-opening the Maiduguri-Gubio-Damasak road and the Maiduguri-Mungono-Baga road, which linked Nigeria with neighbouring countries, the minister hailed the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, for his unwavering support for the military and his administration’s determination to quickly restore normalcy across the state.
According to him, it was in recognition and celebration of the gallantry of the military that he decided to lead a contingent of local and international media to join the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen Mansur Dan Ali (rtd); the Service Chiefs and Shettima at the opening of the two strategic roads monday.
But the planned trip to Maiduguri was botched as the delegation could not depart Abuja due to bad weather after several hours of waiting at the airport. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, accompanied by top military chiefs, re-opened the two arterial roads which were closed due to the activities of the terrorists in the area.
The Maiduguri-Gubio-Damasak road and the Maiduguri-Mungono-Baga road are of strategic importance to the economy of the Lake Chad region.
Mohammed commended the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the much-needed impetus for the military’s victory in the North-east region, and urged Nigerians to continue to give their unalloyed support to the president in his untiring efforts to restore peace and security across the country and also revamp the economy.