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Update: Nigerian soldiers recapture Boko Haram headquarter, Gwoza

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Sequel to the violent and heinous crimes perpetrated by terrorists in North Eastern Nigeria, the Armed Forces of Nigeria was tasked to halt the carnage and restore sanity in that region. This resulted in the deployment of land and air forces.

Boko Haram
Boko Haram

The deployment denied the terrorists the freedom of action they had hitherto enjoyed and they resorted to diversionary tactics known with terrorist groups around the world by carrying out isolated attacks and bombings. The series of deployment and operational effectiveness of the military were however challenged by the porosity of the borders, which gave the terrorists leverage to operate in Nigeria and retreat into safe havens in neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The recent reinvigoration of a partnership between Nigeria and these neighbouring countries under the auspices of Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) provided the desired response to the challenge, as these border areas that hitherto served as hideouts for the terrorists have been actively dominated by troops in the MNJTF. This development decimated the fighting capabilities of the terrorists, as the Nigerian military carries out a final onslaught on the nation’s enemy within the country. These successful operations have culminated in the dislodgment of terrorists from towns and communities in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.

Just this morning, the troops of the Nigerian military in a concerted and well-coordinated land and air operations have liberated Gwoza, the headquarters of their so called caliphate which they renamed ‘darul hikima’. This was preceded by successive sack of terrorists from towns and villages leading to Gwoza, the main objective. Several of the terrorists have died and many of them captured in the process. A lot of arms and ammunition have been recovered and the administrative Headquarters completely destroyed. A massive cordon and search has commenced to locate any of the fleeing terrorists or hostages in their custody.

As at yesterday, the military has been able to take over virtually all the enclaves and hideouts where the terrorists were marauding. It is observed that some of the terrorists are currently fleeing towards border areas. The fleeing terrorists will expectedly run into subsequent encounter with contingents of partners in the Multinational Joint Task Force who have been mandated to contain them accordingly. The mop up operation in Gwoza and other liberated areas will continue in order to ensure that no vestiges of terrorists or terrorism remain in our country.

The Nigerian military and security agencies therefore thank Nigerians and our partners in the sub-region who have consistently encouraged and supported us in the course of these operations. The military is more than ever before determined to once and for all stamp out every trace of terrorism and insecurity in our country. All citizens are urged to remain vigilant and report every movement or assemblage of suspicious characters to the security forces so that NEVER AGAIN shall the evil elements re-group to terrorize or cause mayhem in our country

Earlier this month, residents who fled the town in Borno state told AFP that militants had been massing in Gwoza and killing local people who were unable to flee.

That led to speculation that the group, which has been pushed out of a number of towns in three northeast states in recent weeks, was preparing for a final assault.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared on August 24 last year that Gwoza was “part of the Islamic caliphate”, adding to speculation the militants were imitating the Islamic State group.

– ‘Final onslaught’ –

Shekau had the previous month praised IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but stopped short of pledging allegiance. He has since formally allied himself to the group in Syria and Iraq.

Nigeria’s national security spokesman Mike Omeri said last week that troops had begun the “final onslaught” against Boko Haram, saying Gwoza was one of three areas yet to be retaken.

A four-nation coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has claimed a number of successes since the turn of the year to end the insurgency which has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2009.

The ongoing operation was cited as a reason to delay Nigeria’s general election on February 14 to this Saturday, as soldiers would not be able to provide security nationwide.

In a televised address broadcast on Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan hailed troops for having “successfully stemmed the seizure of Nigerian territories”.

“I heartily commend the very courageous men and women of our Armed Forces for the immense sacrifices which they continue to make in defending the nation and protecting its citizens,” he added.

But Chad’s President Idriss Deby accused Nigeria of failing to cooperate with the regional coalition battling the jihadists, saying there had been zero contact between their armies.

“The whole world is asking why the Nigerian army, which is a big army… is not in a position to stand up to untrained kids armed with Kalashnikovs,” Deby told French magazine Le Point, in an interview published this week.

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