Following threats of reprisals, Special Forces in Borno State have intensified their cordon-off and search operation in the last 72 hours leading to the arrest of 20 top leaders of Boko Haram.
The troops are also combing Maiduguri, Baga, Bama and Gwoza to fish out the insurgents.
But the Defence Headquarters has also put a control mechanism in place to check volunteers in Maiduguri trying to assist in trailing the insurgents.
According to investigation, the nine-man team sent for stock-taking on reprisal plot by Boko Haram in Borno had submitted its report to the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ibrahim Ola Sa’ad.
It was gathered that one of the key recommendations of the team was the sustenance of the ongoing land and air raid of Mandara Mountains, including Gwoza Hills, where the insurgents had relocated.
It was learnt that the raid or mopping up had yielded results in the last few days.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, more than 20 insurgents had been arrested in the last few days due to intense cordon off and search of hideouts of the insurgents.
The source said: “The Special Forces have isolated Maiduguri, Baga, Bama and Gwoza for cordon-off and search. So far, more than 20 deadly insurgents have been arrested, we are closing in on others.
“It is also curious that more weapons and IEDs had also been retrieved from the bases of these insurgents in the forest, hills and homes. In spite of the heavy presence of the Special Forces, these insurgents still disguise to live among the populace.”
Responding to a question, another source added: “We are employing pre-emptive strike by cordoning and searching cells and bases of the insurgents in order not to give them a breathing space. These insurgents have resorted to ambush but the Special Forces have risen up to the challenge.”
When contacted, the Defence Headquarters spokesman, Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said: “We have made substantial progress because more arms and ammunition have been recovered from the Boko Haram insurgents.”
Meanwhile, investigation also confirmed that the Defence Headquarters has also put a control mechanism in place to check volunteers in Maiduguri trying to assist in trailing the insurgents.
The volunteers, who branded themselves as “Civilian JTF,” had assisted the troops to locate Boko Haram members terrorizing Maiduguri.
But there were fears that they could be reckless and frame up innocent citizens.
But a top source added: “As a matter of fact, the DHQ has put control mechanism in place to regulate the activities of the Civilian JTF members.
“They provide intelligence and put the troops into confidence on their activities. We also conduct a post-operation analysis of the activities of these volunteers. As locals, they have assisted the JTF and now the Special Forces in place.”
However, the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe State yesterday claimed that it had smashed a Boko Haram group in Fune, recovering two vehicles, arms, ammunitions and other materials.
Although The Nation could not independently confirm this, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted Lt. Lazarus Eli, JTF spokesman in Damaturu as saying that the terrorists attacked a JTF checkpoint in Fune on Friday and took away a police vehicle conveying police items to Borno.
He told journalists while displaying the recovered items that “The JTF pursued and engaged them in a gunfight and they were overpowered, thereby recovering the stolen vehicle as well as a similar one used by the group. Other items recovered include one AK47 rifle, three Rocket Propelled Gun (RPG) bombs, three RPG chargers, one riot gun and 485 rounds of ammunition.”
Lazarus also said 42 police jackets, 44 police helmets, six AK47 rifle magazines, 80 fragmentation blades and illicit drugs were recovered.
He said some of the suspects fled with gunshots wounds and appealed to the public to report anyone found with gun wounds to security operatives.
Meanwhile, the people of the state have appealed to the federal authorities to lift the suspension of telephone services, to enable them to provide security operatives with useful and timely information.
Damaturu residents claimed that the attack on a college two weeks ago would have been averted, if there was telephone service.
“People noticed suspicious movements on that fateful day just about the commencement of the curfew, but one could not move out. Also, there was no telephone network for us to report to the security,” a source stated.