By Oladipupo Awojobi
A team of international journalists, Nigerian journalists, humanitarian workers and a coalition of Civil Society Organisations at the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance in North East Nigeria led by Mr. Daniel Furnard have said that the activities of Boko Haram have been greatly reduced in the country.
The researchers toured communities of Gundumbali, Damasak, and Garshigar in Borno State for nine days.
Addressing journalists on Friday, Furnard revealed that the team observed that most of the news emanating from the North East were fake news and a direct opposite of the actual situation on ground.
“As a group conversant with the activities of the Nigerian Army in North East Nigeria, it should be stated that if this trend is not arrested, it could affect humanitarian works in the area.
“Also, it was observed that the fake news emanating from the theatre of operation in North East gives the Boko Haram Terrorist a psychological boost and the audacity to make attempts at regrouping and launching attacks in communities.
“It could also send the wrong message to the international community about the efforts of the Nigerian government in confronting the Boko Haram threats to our sovereignty as a nation,” he said.
He consequently advised that citizens must interrogate news content “before circulating some as the terrorists thrive on the gullibility of reasonable persons who do not cross-check their facts to reach out to the rest of the world with their falsehood.
“It was also observed that the troops are in high spirit and well-equipped with arms and ammunition. The fighting forces also stated that the Chief of Army Staff is a regular guest in the theatre of operations.
“The Nigerian Army deserves special commendation as well as other sister security agencies. The presence of the Army is well felt everywhere and recent political activities across the country are clear indications that Boko Haram has lost control of the fight which they were practically in charge sometimes in 2015,” he said.
Furnard stressed that the overarching objective of the tour was to put paid to speculations about Boko Haram occupying territories in some communities in North East Nigeria after some attempts by the terrorists to invade Nigerian communities under the control of the Nigerian Army.
He revealed that the team was on ground for one week beginning from 25th September to October 4th, 2018.
According to him, “in the course of the trip, the members of the group were divided into clusters and each with a local tour guide that assisted with language barrier challenge.
“Each cluster visited communities and observed their daily activities whilst all the activities were recorded on video and pictures collected.
“The team discovered that there is no territory under the control of Boko Haram terrorists anywhere within the geographical entity called Nigeria.
“Using the case of Garshigar as an example, the town enjoys relative peace. Here, indigenes went about their regular businesses, but for the presence of military personnel in strategic locations.
“The team also interacted with soldiers from Nigeria Army’s 145 battalions on the ground, and they gave insights into their operations in these communities.
“In the case of Garshigar, it was gathered that Boko Haram terrorists have made several attempts to gain entry into the town, but were repelled by the Nigeria Army.
“One of the commanders of the 145 Battalion also hinted that some years back, Garshigar used to serve as one of the training bases of the Boko Haram terrorists until the Nigeria Army dislodged them, hence the repeated attempt to attack the community, but the Nigeria Army has always repelled them.”
The leader of the researchers explained that in the case of Damasak, indigenes went about their regular businesses without fear.
He added that the visible signs of unrest were the buildings that were demolished in previous attacks, and stressed that farming and fishing activities are ongoing in large scale.
“Damasak is bustling with economic activities, so much so that people from neighbouring communities of Dogomolu, Douro, and Chemba frequent Damasak to trade. There was also a strong military presence in the town at strategic places. Upon interacting with the people, they heaped praises on the efforts of soldiers in the military base stationed in Damasak,” Furnard stated.