The Director of Defence Information, Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, yesterday said the war against Boko Haram is not yet over and the military will not slow down.
He also said current turn of the tide against the terrorists is an initiative conceived and being driven by the Nigerian military and not troops from Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.
He said the Nigerian military is, however, enjoying the backing of the reinvigorated Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which has troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
He, however, cautioned Nigerians and the media against acts that could dampen the troops’ morale of troops.
Olukolade made the clarifications at a briefing in Abuja on the ongoing battle against Boko Haram insurgents.
He said: “Be that as it may, we are conscious that the fight is not over and the Nigerian military will, therefore, not relent. Nothing will be taken for granted. All Nigerians are equally enjoined to maintain this posture.
“Indeed, there is no going back or slowing down anywhere. The air campaigns are continuing with a view to dislodging all the identified terrorist cells, enclaves or hideouts anywhere in the designated mission area.
“The mandate of working towards ensuring the restoration of normalcy for socio-economic, political and other activities to resume as quickly as possible is being given all it takes toward having the mission accomplished.
”So far, so good, things are working out in line with the strategic plans. A very significant number of identified terrorists’ enclaves have already been pounded and destroyed in the course of continuing air strikes.
“Ground forces are also conducting assaults along with necessary mopping up, cordon and search operations in communities and locations previously occupied by terrorists.”
Olukolade said troops were already set for subsequent phases of the battle against the insurgents.
He said all communities being occupied by the insurgents would be reclaimed and displaced citizens returned to their homes.
He said: “The stage is also set for the conduct of subsequent phases earmarked as part of the campaign. In the process, many communities have been sufficiently cleared to guarantee the return of citizens to their normal lives.
“The scope is being expanded to ensure that more communities are mopped up and cleansed of every vestige of terrorism. All the towns where the activities of the terrorists are still noticeable will be duly mopped up very soon.”
Gen. Olukolade denied allegations that foreign troops from Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic were behind the success recorded against Boko Haram.
He said: “The truth of the matter is that the current turn of the tide against the terrorists is an initiative conceived and is being driven by the Nigerian military, but enjoying the backing of the reinvigorated Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which has troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“The continuous aerial bombardment of identified terrorists’ cells and hideouts by the Nigerian Air Force and subsequent ground offensive by the Nigerian troops pursuing the dislodged terrorists is proving worthwhile.
“Our partners are entrusted with employing the instrumentality of the Multi-National Joint Task Force to contain any terrorists who heads towards our borders with neighbouring countries and preventing the formation of any new safe haven elsewhere.
”The forces have been working very hard in consonance with the terms and spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding that preceded this operation. They are effectively checkmating trans-border activities of the terrorists.
“There have been instances where these provisions for the operation of the MNJTF have afforded our partners the latitude required to pursue or beat back a retreating band of terrorists into Nigerian territory as was the case in Gamboru and other locations not far from the border.
“Unfortunately, some interest groups who seek to misinterpret this fruitful collaboration are seeking to drive a wedge between the Nigerian military and her supporting military formations or contingent by deliberately trying to denigrate and ridicule the effort of the Nigerian forces.”
Olukolade repeatedly said there had been no compromise of any aspect of Nigeria’s sovereignty or soil to any foreign force
He said: “If other militaries that have just joined the war against the terrorists would be described in some warped reports as “battle-hardened”, how would any sensible commentator or reporter describe the gallant Nigerian forces that have been battling these mercenary-ridden terrorists for over five years now say?
“The antics of some foreign media and their local collaborators who will stop at nothing to bring the Nigerian military to disrepute are no longer new or unusual. The Nigerian military will not be distracted or detracted from the current momentum which is geared towards stamping out terrorism not only in Nigeria but in the entire sub-region.
“It is of necessity therefore to reiterate that much as we value and appreciate the ongoing collaborative effort of the troop contributing nations of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), there has been no compromise of any aspect of Nigeria’s sovereignty or soil to any foreign force.
“This counter terrorist operation is comprehensively driven by Nigerian forces. Other members of the MNJTF have so far successfully denied the common enemy freedom of trans-border operations and this is in consonance with the idea of the multinational coalition initiated as far back as 1998.
”Be that as it may, we are conscious that the fight is not over and the Nigerian military will, therefore, not relent. Nothing will be taken for granted. All Nigerians are equally enjoined to maintain this posture.
“We must at all times remain vigilant and conscious of our environment and be on the lookout for unrepentant terrorists, their collaborators or sympathisers who will stop at nothing in their resolve to destroy our country and civilization.”
The DHQ spokesman pleaded with Nigerians to refrain from comments and acts which could undermine the morale of troops at the battle front.
He added: “However, while these support and show of love are being savoured, the attitude and activities of segments of the society who are still hell bent on undermining the morale of our fighting force by deliberately playing down the operational successes so far achieved remains very unfortunate indeed.
“In a bid to spitefully drown the efforts of our troops, this group of people have been mischievously and exaggeratingly reporting the supportive roles of foreign allies to the detriment of our operational success in the fight against terror.
“They go to every extent to ridicule, taunt or project every falsehood, purely to score some points in the clandestine sympathy for the terrorists. This unpatriotic posture is directly or indirectly undermining the esteemed status of Nigeria in the comity of nations.
“The need has therefore arisen for a call on the media to beware of the mischief and conspiracy by some theorists who are still bent on orchestrating a well-rehearsed smear campaign against the Nigerian military. They have been struggling to attribute the recent defeats inflicted on the terrorists to the invincibility of other forces or military outfits other than Nigeria’s. “
Olukolade praised Nigerians who had shown solidarity and support for troops in the Northeast.
He said: “Irrespective of the skepticism of ardent critics and cynics in and out of the country, this recent show of solidarity has proved to be a great morale booster. The sight of every segment of the Nigerian society coming out in unison to cheer and celebrate the modest achievement of the nation’s forces is inspiring indeed.
”We thank the President and Commander-in-Chief for the confidence he reposes on his troops and for the support and encouragement he has always extended to the military. We thank the cross section of the political class for their kind words of encouragement and equally appreciate the wonderful effort of the media and some civil society groups who organised rallies and marches both in Abuja and Lagos to express support for the military.”
The Nation news – culled from: http://thenationonlineng.net/new/no-retreat-no-surrender-against-boko-haram-says-dhq/