Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Paul Obi in Abuja
With tension building up in the North-east, especially in Borno State, as a result of the increasing deadly activities of Boko Haram, military chiefs arrived in Maiduguri, the state capital, Tuesday to tackle the terrorist group.
The arrival of the military chiefs was in line with the recent directive of the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to the security chiefs to relocate to the theatre of the insurgency to assess the deteriorating security situation in the North-eastern part of the country.
Those on the ground are the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
The acting president had met with the service chiefs and heads of all security agencies last week, following the resurgence of Boko haram attacks on the North-east, particularly Maiduguri.
The terrorist group recently ambushed and killed about 48 members of an exploration team, including geologists from the University of Maiduguri, staff members of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), civilian JTF and soldiers prospecting for oil in the Chad Basin. Boko Haram had also carried out about 90 separate, multiple suicide attacks within and around Maiduguri in the past few months.
The services chiefs led by Olonisakin arrived the Air Force base in Maiduguri about 11 am Tuesday and immediately drove in a heavy convoy of armed soldiers to the headquarters of the Military Command and Control Centre, where the Theatre Commander met and briefed them.
The military chiefs, THISDAY Defence sources said Tuesday would review the tactical situation and decide on the next strategy for containing the terrorists who appeared bent on disproving the federal government’s claim that it had defeated and cleared them from the country.
But speaking in Maiduguri Tuesday, the Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, said the service chiefs had commenced the command and control of the operations from the Military Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri.
He said the Chief of Defence Staff held a briefing session with the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, the Theatre Commander and senior principal staff officers of the military high command at the Military Command and Control Centre, and reviewed strategic direction and operational plans of the war against terror in compliance with the directive of the acting president.
Enenche explained that the move and action were expected to give impetus to the military efforts in the North-east operations.
“Consequently, the Defence Headquarters hereby appeals to the general public and the people in the areas affected directly, by this negative acts of terrorism and criminality, to come forward with credible information, that will further assist the security and response agencies, to tackle this menace,” he said.
He explained: “It is necessary to point out some of the key information required, which include the following — terrorists sleeper cell locations, terrorists concentration areas and outpost locations, collaborators and informants to the terrorists.
“Suspicious habitations and living quarters within the rural and urban centres. Suspicious isolated settlements and camps outside normal living areas.
“In conclusion, the Armed Forces of Nigeria reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that, peace and tranquillity is restored to the North-east. Thus, the cooperation of the general public, particularly those in the affected areas is highly solicited.”