• Military ramps up attacks on terrorists, arrests 20 bandits
• Air Force chief charges personnel to step up air strikes
By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday charged soldiers in the North-east to redouble their efforts and end the war against Boko Haram terrorists.
He said this was necessary for them to be able to quickly reunite with their families in the barracks.
The COAS made the charge at the interdenominational service jointly held by the Headquarters of Counter-insurgency operation in the Northeast (Operation Lafiya Dole) and 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri to mark the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2019.
He said: “I urge you all officers and soldiers of Operation Lafiya Dole to remain focused and redouble your efforts in the war against terrorism and insurgency.”
Buratai, who was represented by the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Benson Akinroluyo, said: “The NADCEL is an annual event, which culminates on July 6 every year. It is an occasion used as a platform for the Nigerian Army to reflect on our performance and celebrate our achievements, as well as highlight our operations as key instruments for national power, unity, integration and development.”
He added: “The Nigerian Army has been leveraging on the event to showcase our commitment as a professionally responsive force. On the other hand the Combat Support and Arms Training (COSAT) is an important training activity, which provides a platform for combat support arms to reappraise their performance in providing combat support to the Nigerian Army operations.”
He said the NADCEL and COSAT 2019 will be held jointly this year and is designed to focus on the Nigerian Army’s commitment as a professionally, responsive force in the discharge of it’s constitutional role.
Buratai said: “It will be recalled that the NADCEL 2018 afforded the participants and guests the opportunity to be embedded in the real time military operations code named Operation Last Hold. The benefits we derived from the exercise were quite enormous as it enable us to test virtually all aspects of our logistics and operational activities, as a fighting force.”
He said: “In the period of insecurity and insurgency, security is a collective responsibility and as soldiers, clerics and parents what shall we do? Clerics and parents should pray for us, while as soldiers we should rededicate ourselves and have the courage to fight.”
He urged the troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole to redouble their efforts and be courageous in the fight against insurgency, as victory is certainly theirs, noting that “God is always with them. So finish this war and go back to your barracks.”
In his sermon, Rev. Haruna Godiva said: “What shall we do as congress, tax collectors and as soldiers, we should know that what we do on earth, is what we see in heaven. If we are not doubting heaven, we should also not doubt about hell.”
He told them that: “When soldiers asked John the Baptist what shall we do as a soldier, he replied them that you should not intimidate, you should not accuse people falsely and be contented with what you have, your salaries and allowances. If we do these, surely victory is ours.”
He, therefore, urged soldiers not to intimidate, accuse people falsely or take what does not belong to them, like collecting bribe and extorting motorists on the highways.
Military Ramps up Attacks on Terrorists, Bandits
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military weekend ramped up attacks on terrorist hideouts in the North-east. While the Nigerian Air Force launched air strikes in Gbogara and Bakassi in Borno State, the Army arrested 20 armed bandits in Sububu Forest in Sokoto and Katsina States.
This is coming as the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) denied capture of a naval base by the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) in Lake Chad.
The denial came as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, charged NAF personnel to sustain the tempo of attacks on terrorists and armed bandits in order to secure Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
The Air Force Chief spoke as the Nigerian Army arrested 20 armed bandits in Sokoto and Katsina States.
NAF conducted air strikes that killed several terrorists of the Boko Haram hue in Gbogara and Bakassi in Borno State.
“The attack on Gobara, a settlement in the Sambisa Forest area, was carried out by two Alpha Jets after Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions had identified a segment of the settlement being used by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) fighters to store their logistics and other equipment.
“The jets scored accurate hits in the target area, leading to the destruction of some of the structures and equipment as well as the killing of several terrorists,” a NAF statement said.
It said in continuation of Operation Green Sweet 2 the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole had destroyed terrorists’ hideouts and killed some fighters at Gobara and Bakassi, Borno State in separate air raids.
In a similar vein, another active camp belonging to Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) elements located at Bakassi on the fringes of Lake Chad in Northern Borno, was successfully attacked and several terrorists killed in air strikes carried out later in the day.
“Overhead the target area, the NAF ISR platform observed significant presence of ISWAP fighters who were attempting to flee the location, upon hearing the sound of the aircraft.
“The attack platforms were vectored to the area of concentration of the terrorists, unleashing their munitions on the target and causing significant damage to the camp and neutralising many terrorists”, NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said it was alerted to another mischievous video footage being circulated online by the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), insinuating the capture of a naval base in North-east Nigeria.
It said: “In its usual mannerism, after suffering major defeats in encounters with counter-terrorism and counter insurgency troops, the terrorist group has cloned another video, in an unwitting attempt to disseminate and propagate false information in order to gain accolades and present a public image of a virile force.”
It added: “It is crucial to recall that the terrorists group had earlier circulated a similar video, following an encounter with troops in Baga area of the Lake Chad region, where they claimed to have taken over the naval base, in Lake Chad.
“Apparently, this video, shows ISWAP occupation of a disused boat yard, which is still being mischievously circulated, after careful doctoring, to portray a phantom capture of a naval base in Baga, as if it were a recent victory in its insurgency campaign”.
The statement signed by Defence spokesman, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said “the video footage is undoubtedly an unclever and amateurish attempt to save face, having suffered enormous losses in several encounters with troops in the last seven months.
“It is also another failed ISWAP propaganda effort to project itself as a potent force with maritime capabilities”.
DHQ said both ISWAP and BHT have severally suffered defeat during fierce offensive operations and Air interdictions conducted by troops of the Multi National Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) and Operation Lafiya Dole in Doron Naira, Ngouma in Cameroun, Arege, Malkonory and Tumbun Rego, where several insurgents were neutralised, including an ISWAP Commander.
Nwachukwu noted that “the insurgents were equally, recently defeated in the battles of Goniri, Nbaga and Gero by the gallant troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
“Suffice to mention that huge cache of arms, ammunition and other weapon systems were recovered from the insurgents during the offensive operations”.
The statement urged “members of the public not to fall for the propaganda antics of ISWAP and Boko Haram terrorists and to discountenance the false video.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Air Staff has charged NAF personnel to sustain the tempo of attacks on insurgents and armed bandits
He said the current security challenges facing the country, if left unchecked, pose grave danger to the collective co-existence of Nigerians. He therefore urged them to re-double their efforts in order to make the service more relevant and effective in addressing the current and future security challenges in the country.
The CAS stated this while commissioning a renovated block of 30 x 2 bedroom apartments for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) at the NAF Base in Kaduna today, 29 June 2019. This is coming just a few days after he commissioned three newly renovated blocks of officers’ accommodation and a warehouse at NAF Base Bill Clinton Drive Abuja.
In a related development, the CAS said physical fitness was imperative for the military to win the war against insurgency.
Abubakar stated this during the NAF 2019 Second Quarter Route March Exercise, held in Abuja.
The exercise, which also held in NAF Units across the country, was led by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal Emmanuel Anabi, who represented the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at the event.
The aim of the exercise is to keep officers and men of the service physically and mentally fit for the effective performance of their various duties towards fulfilling NAF’s constitutional roles.
At the weekend, the Nigerian Army arrested 20 armed bandits in Sokoto and Katsina.
It said troops have in a renewed efforts arrested several gangs of bandits terrorizing Isa, Rabbah and Burkusuma communities around Sububu Forest in Sokoto State as well as in Batsari, Safana and Kankara in Dumburum Forest of Katsina State.
Similarly, troops deployed in Super Camp covering Bena, Jega, Danko and Wasagu encountered and annihilated uncomfirmed number of bandits and destroyed five bandits’ camps in Gando Forest of Kebbi State.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has appointed Prof. Omojo Omaji as the substantive Vice+ chancellor of Admiralty University.
In his address at the ceremony held at the Naval Headquarters, the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas charged the VC to position the university into a world class institution of higher learning reputable for uninterruptable quality education, research, academic excellence and discipline.
In his acceptance speech, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Omaji thanked the Chief of Naval Staff and other founders of the university for the rare privilege given to him to lead the institution.
Prof. Omaji pledged to discharge his duties in line with the vision of the proprietors and the business ideology of ADUN.