The Nigerian presidency has expressed confidence that the wave of Boko Haram attacks could end before the three months given to end insurgency.
Presidential aide Mallam Garba Shehu said that hope was not yet lost on the efforts by Nigeria’s security forces to secure the freedom of the Chibok school girls taken hostage by Boko Haram more than 510 days ago.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja on Sunday, September 6, Shehu said the terrorists were now in disarray, having lost their central command and had been broken into splinters due to the efforts of the Nigerian troops under the new leadership.
While reacting to criticism that the Buhari administration had not done enough to stop the insurgency, as promised during the election campaigns, Shehu said that on the contrary, the administration had been working hard to cripple the terror organisation.
He added that due to intensive military bombardments, Sambisa forest, their stronghold, was now being degraded.
The presidential spokesman said: “From my conversation with these commanders, what they are saying to themselves is that they are not going to wait for three months, but do their best to beat the target given by the president.
“So there is so much going on and I can assure you that spirits are very high. The army chief was there with the soldiers for about nine days. That is leadership because you see him leading the soldiers from the front.
“If the chief himself is there, who are you to drop your gun? A lot is happening and Boko Haram has been degraded, they have lost central command and are now in splinters.
“What you have now is bits and pieces carrying out distractive action because they don’t want to go down alone. So they are looking for very soft targets such as churches, mosques and markets.
“The air force is clearing this place for the ground troops to move in. They are looking for bomb making structures and moving convoys of these insurgents. But they are being careful about certain locations with the hope not to harm the Chibok girls in those locations,” Shehu said.
In speaking on the expectation that the administration will do something to free the Chibok girls, Shehu said the troops were being careful about certain locations so as not to harm the hostages.
He noted that the bombings were being carried out in a careful manner to avoid certain locations of interest as far as the Chibok girls were concerned.
The president’s spokesman, said that Sambisa forest was under observation at every moment of the day, adding that in the event somebody decides to move the girls and if there was any suspicious movement, there are drones that fly around the place at night and during the day.
He said: “To be fair to President Buhari, did he ever say he will bring back the girls on the second day of his administration? What he has always said is that we don’t even know where the girls are and that we need to go in there and get the intelligence and the situation of things and then act.
“Without meaning to endanger what is left of those girls, you know that the Sambisa forest is being degraded right now.
“In the last few days, you even saw the Chief of Army Staff leading the troops and I am aware that in the last few weeks, very interesting pictures have been shown to the president on the basis of which we will say to Nigerians, don’t lose hope on the Chibok girls. I am not saying they have been found or that they have been seen. But it is not yet time for Nigerians to say we have lost them,” he concluded.
The Boko Haram sect has been reported to be in utter disarray. The Jihadist group, which boasted of greater capacity to execute more terror acts, now seem to be disorganised, and have been forced to embark on hit-and-run attacks on remote communities in Borno.
Security sources who have been working on the activities of the Islamist group in the north-eastern part of Nigeria reveal report:
“The larger membership of Boko Haram is not particularly domiciled in Sambisa bush (the insurgents’ main camp) now because of the increasing bombing by military forces but now move around in smaller groups around the central part of Borno carrying out attacks on soft targets and sometimes fleeing to the northern part in the dead of the night.”
The Nigerian military has commenced air bombardment on Boko Haram’s Sambisa camp, targeting the insurgents’ stronghold, which is partly swampy.
It is believed by some residents that the nature is playing its part in the current counter-insurgency operation by the military, as the insurgents’ operational camp in Sambisa forest is being made inhabitable due to the increasing rainfall.
Officials say the flooded and partly swampy forest will be inhabitable even for Boko Haram. They further infer that the notorious sect will not be able to stay there, except maybe in a few building or huts initially built by the state government for the games reserve.
According to reports by Sunday Sun, some of the insurgents have fled their camps and are now scattered in the bushes. There are reports that some fleeing insurgents were caught in Maiduguri last week by members of the youth vigilance group while attempting to maneuver their way into the city.
Residents claim that the suspects alleged that the insurgents were often thrown into disarray each time they sighted an aircraft flying around as they reportedly feared it could be an Nigerian Air Force fighter jet on their trail.
Colonel Tukur Gusau, a deputy director of the army public relations and a spokesman of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, said the ongoing military operations in the northeast have crippled the activities of Boko Haram, stating that this has compelled the insurgents to resort to using donkeys and other unusual tactics to attack some remote communities.
Tukur said: “We have crippled their channels of supply both of fuel, logistics and everything and they’re now in disarray. That is why they have resorted to using donkeys to carry out attacks.”
He made this known on Friday, September 4, during the burning of over 2,000 cartons of smoked fish and dried beef confiscated from Boko Haram.
The army spokesman, however, solicited for the support and cooperation of the people to aid the military by giving useful information that could assist in tracking down members of the Boko Haram sect and ending insurgency in the northeast.
It is now the belief of many people in Borno that the sustained offensive by the military would help curtail Boko Haram’s activities and eventually end the insurgency.