- Emir calls for deployment of indigenous soldiers to man the hills
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, wednesday visited the Nigerian Police Force Training College in Laminanka-Gwoza and climbed to the peak of the rugged Gwoza Hill, a notorious enclave of terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Gwoza, became the Headquarters of Boko Haram after they killed over 300 people in 2014 and proclaimed the town, where it hoisted its flag, headquarters, forcing the Emir and many of his subjects to flee the town, leaving over 600 people.
The 600 people were trapped in the hills before they were rescued after troops retook the town located in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. The hill is said to contain many caves which served the purpose of the insurgents.
This is coming as the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu Idris Timta, called on the Nigerian Army to deploy indigenous soldiers and officers to the area to enable it rid the place of remnants of terrorists.
Buratai visited the Police Force Training College located in Limankara village. The college and the entire Gwoza LGA were under the control of the terrorists for months before troops of Nigerian Army recaptured the area in 2015.
He climbed to the peak of the rugged mountains as part of an operations visit to the north-east.
He also visited 144 Task Force Battalion in Madagali on his way to Gwoza township for the historic Nigerian Army Social Activities (WASA) and Medal Parade 2019.
“During the visit, Buratai observed that normalcy has since returned to the town even as residents chanted in excitement during his visit while the reconstruction work at the college has reached advanced stages of completion,” an army statement said.
The army chief was conducted round the college by the police officers in the college.
Speaking at a parade held in Gwoza as part of his tour of the North-east, Buratai said: “I am here for Nigerian Army Medal Parade and Nigerian Army Social activities (WASA) 2019. “The parade is usually organised to honour our gallant officers and soldiers who have participated in Operation Lafiya Dole and have done exceptionally well in the efforts to secure our beloved country from terrorists and this time around, we brought it to Gwoza, in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State and it’s quite symbolic the misadventures of the Boko Haram terrorists that were here sometime, and attempted to declare it their headquarters this is now history as they have been flushed out since and peace has returned”.
He stated further that “clearly now the federal government of Nigeria is in firm control of every territory of our country and we are here to conduct this medal parade to honor our officers and soldiers who have been working tirelessly and patriotically in order to keep our country secure and united”.
In his remarks, the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Shehu Idris Tima, said that the presence of Nigerian Army personnel in the emirate boosted the confidence of the people in the military.
He boasted that with the presence of the Nigerian Army, Boko Haram remained defeated.
“I have been saying if Boko Haram wants to die, they should come to Gwoza. Honestly the action of the Nigerian military motivated me and most of us to come back to my domain and stay with my people.
“I must confess that the officers that the Army sent here are giving us confidence. They are doing a very nice job, they are going everywhere on patrol including the hitherto dreaded Sambisa forest,” he said.
He said tackling insurgents required concerted efforts.
“Yes they are defeated. They were sent packing and they were degraded badly that they had to go on the run. Initially, we were the ones running but now they are the ones running”, he said. He commended the Nigerian Army for community service rendered to enhance civil/military relationship in the emirate.
“I praise our gallant officers here in Gwoza. They have cleared my own farm house land in Jaji. I must commend the Nigerian army because of the relationship with them and my people is very cordial, we are working as a family.
“Initially, Gwoza was the headquarters of Boko Haram because of the terrain of this place, we are in the middle of the Sambisa Forest in the Western part, the Mandara Mountain, the hidden area of the Boko Haram in the Eastern part”, he said.
The Emir said: “definitely, they have been degraded that they will not be able to fight even our hunters with the complete support of the Nigerian military”, he said, urging the army to engage local hunters who know the terrain to guide them in their patrols.
“But we need more because the terrain of the mountain cannot be accessed without an indigenous person that will show the hidden places.
“In the mountain, there are many caves, the Nigerian military alone cannot achieve this because they don’t know the terrain but I believe if one of the Nigerian Army will know this terrain, Boko will have become a thing of history,” he stated.