Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Nigerian military has made a final push for Boko Haram terrorists as it launched Operation Last Hold to uproot the group from their known enclaves in and around the Lake Chad Basin.
After the group was uprooted from the Sambisa Forest about a year and a half ago, they regrouped and turn many of the islands in the Lake Chad region and part of Northern Borno State into their new stronghold.
From there, they launched many attacks in some parts of the Northeast and they were believed to have held abducted kidnapped women and girls, among them the 105 abducted Dapchi schoolgirls.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, yesterday said the military was now ready to uproot the terrorists from the area and allow for quick return of Nigerians to return to their homes.
Many of those who fled the area at the heights of Boko Haram expansionist agenda are displaced both within Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
The COAS, who was represented by Major General Abba Dikko at the launched of the new operation against Boko Haram in Maiduguri, said it was aimed at uprooting the terrorists from the extreme northern part of the state.
Dikko, who is the Commander of the new operation, said it is aimed at reinforcing the ongoing operations in the theatre command of Operation Lafiya Dole in the troubled Northeast to clear the areas, provide an enabling environment for the returning of displaced persons, allow for farming, fishing and security of lives and property as well as return of normal life to the people.
He said despite the complex and adaptive nature of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has resulted in the dissident group still sometimes engaged in abductions, attacks on soft targets, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and suicide bombings, “the Nigerian army is undeterred by the mutating posture of the Boko Haram.”
The COAS added that the Nigerian army was determined to consolidate on its recent gains in the ongoing push, especially in the extreme Northern part of the state.
He added that this is part of this year’s Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL).
Buratai said the operation was designed to deploy personnel and equipment to showcase the combat efficiency of the army and thereafter conduct operations to totally destroy Boko Haram locations in the Lake Chad basin general area.
He added that the operation was also expected to last for four months and would entail deployment of additional maneuver brigades and other critical assets in the state which will facilitate the clearance of the Lake Chad waterways of sea weeds and other obstacles obstructing the movement of boats and people across the water channels.
The army general further called on the public to remained vigilant and be security conscious as suspected terrorists may be fleeing from military operations in the Northeast in search of safe haven amidst communities.