TEXT OF PRESS BRIEFING BY MAJOR GENERAL LEO IRABOR THEATRE COMMANDER OPERATION LAFIYA ON WEDNESDAY 7TH DECEMBER 2016 AT MAIDUGURI
It is my pleasure this afternoon to welcome you all to Headquarters Theatre Command in order to update you with the progress of our operations so far. The troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE have continued to clear several Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in their hideouts and recorded huge successes.
Since the last brief till today, own troops have moved deeper into Sambisa forest on many fronts. In order to fully understand the operational setting, I will give you a general overview of Sambisa forest and some other parts of the Theatre as shown.
Therefore, this brief will touch on some of the operations as follows:
Update on Operation RESCUE FINALE. As I told you the last time, Operation RESCUE FINALE is the continuation of Operation CRACKDOWN and is aimed at rescuing all the Chibok School Girls and other hostages held in Sambisa forest. Since its commencement on 2nd November 2016, our troops have continued to make progress into the heart of Sambisa forest. The current incursion into the Sambisa forest is on various fronts. The troops were briefed by the General Officer Commanding 7 Division prior the commencement of the offensive operations at the Assembly Area.
On one of the fronts, on 30th November 2016, the troops cleared Goneri before harboring at Goni Kurmi. While at the harbor at Goni Kurmi the troops were attacked by the Boko Haram terrorists with the hope of slowing down their push. The attack was successfully repelled with the Boko Haram terrorists suffering casualties. The troops recovered one AK 47 rifle, different calibers of ammunitions and magazines. The advance continued the following day and our troops successfully cleared Alfa 1, 2 and 3 respectively before harboring at Bula Bello. On 5th December 2016, the troops cleared all Boko Haram terrorists to delay positions before capturing Njimia. At Njimia our troops were attacked by the terrorists with Anti-Aircraft guns and small arms fire. The attack lasted for about 30 minutes but was successfully repelled with Boko Haram terrorists suffering heavy casualties in both men and equipment before retreating. However, one soldier and 2 Civilian JTF were wounded. The soldier and one Civilian JTF later died while being evacuated to the hospital. Yesterday, at about 4.00pm, Intelligence Surveillance, and Reconnaissance aircraft identified Boko Haram terrorists massing up to attack own troops at Njimia. Our Artillery and air assets were used to engage the Boko Haram terrorists which led to the destruction of 4 vehicles, a fuel tanker likely laden with Improvised Explosive Devices. The Air Force also strafed and killed many fleeing insurgents. All the incidents are as shown.
On the second front, the troops advanced and cleared all Boko Haram terrorist camps on their axis before harboring at Amdaga on the first day. At Amdaga the Boko Haram terrorists carried out a probing attack on our troops which was swiftly dealt with before the Boko Haram terrorists retreated.
The following day, troops cleared and occupied Dure and have been operating in the general area to intercept fleeing Boko Haram terrorists.
The third axis moved from Bitta through Sassawa to Tokombore. The troops cleared all Boko Haram terrorist camps on their axis and subsequently occupied blocking position towards Sambisa “S” Shape. The special forces continued with the offensive and entered the River Line “S” Shape in the heart of the Sambisa forest. However, our troops on this axis stepped on Boko Haram terrorists Improvised Explosive Devices which was immediately followed by Boko Haram terrorist attack. The attack was successfully repelled with several Boko Haram terrorists killed during the encounter battle. Unfortunately, we lost a soldier and 9 others were wounded from the Improvised Explosive Devices incident. The dead and wounded soldiers were evacuated by the Nigerian Air Force. The wounded are currently receiving treatment in our Hospital.
On the fourth axis, on 30th November 2016, the troops cleared Boko Haram terrorist camps at Jefe, Ndenema, and Turori villages and subsequently harbored at Kazalamari village. The advance continued the following day with our troops clearing the Boko Haram terrorists from Sambisa Gate 1. The troops successfully cleared and entered Sambisa Gate 1 at about 10.55am. During the advance, own troops encountered Improvised Explosive Device and had contact with the Boko Haram terrorists at Garin Dinya village. A total of 19 Boko Haram terrorists were killed while 4 AK-47 rifles and 8 magazines including other weapons of the Boko Haram terrorists were captured. However, one officer, a soldier and 2 Civilian JTF were wounded in action and were airlifted by helicopter for medical attention.
Subsidiary Operations. On 28th November 2016, own troops conducted a clearance patrol in Dogon Chukwu general area. During the encounter with the insurgents, one Boko Haram was killed, one wounded and others fled. The wounded, dressed in camouflage uniform, is receiving treatment and helping with useful information for the operation. On 1st December 2016 at about 1.00pm, own troops while conducting raid operation in Daban Giwa, Daban Masara, Gratte and other adjoining villages encountered Boko Haram terrorists coming out of the creek to mount their horses in the general area of Gratte. A firefight ensued and the Boko Haram terrorists fled into the creeks with gunshot wounds. However, 32 of their horses died in the crossfire. An officer was wounded in action by grenade fragments during that operation.
The arrest of Fleeing Boko Haram terrorist members. The tenacity of own troops has led to the arrest of many fleeing Boko Haram terrorist members. Some of the incidents include the following:
On 28th November 2016 at about 3.55pm, troops in conjunction with vigilante on recce/fighting patrol to Kadauri, Yuramti, and Mandari Villages intercepted and apprehended 13 Boko Haram terrorists/Boko Haram terrorists Sympathizers and 51 of their family members at Yuramti village.
Also, on 29th November 2016, troops deployed at Buni Gari in conjunction with the vigilantes apprehended 14 Boko Haram terrorists escapees made up of 3 men, 3 women and 8 children from Gorobcha Village, North East of Ajigin. One of the men was found to be involved in the rearing of livestock for the insurgents.
Similarly, on the same day at about 1.20pm a Boko Haram terrorist suspect, Alhaji Saidu Mohammed was arrested at Helma Jibir village in Biu LGA by own troops. The suspect was arrested with provisions, drugs which are mostly analgesics/sedatives and 31 wraps of weed suspected to be cannabis. The suspect has since been undergoing investigation.
On 1st December 2016 at about 1.30am, own troops in conjunction with Civilian JTF arrested 2 Boko Haram terrorist suspects. The suspects were arrested while trying to move some items into the bush for Boko Haram terrorists. Items recovered include 5 packets of Trammol, 4 new wrappers, 14 pairs of slippers, a world receiver radio, 5 packets of Maggi star, 7 rolls of Klin detergent, a packet of 1.5v battery, 2 packets of matches, 2 sets of children wears, a bicycle tube, tyre/freewheel, really extra tablet, kola nuts and 2 half bags of salt.
On 3rd December 2016 at about 11.00am, own troops in conjunction with the local vigilante, while on fighting patrol along Kafa-Goniri road arrested 7 confirmed Boko Haram terrorist members. The arrested Boko Haram terrorists pretended to be Internally Displaced Persons in order to gain access into Goniri so as to escape the current military operations. They were arrested with 50 women and children. They are currently in own custody giving useful information necessary for our operations.
Likewise, on 4th December 2016 at about 1.35pm, own troops in conjunction with local vigilante intercepted 5 men, 29 women and children heading towards Goniri from Kafa. The men were screened by the local vigilante and 2 of the men were confirmed to be BHTs. They have since been taken into custody and are undergoing interrogation. In all the operations, a total of 801 persons were rescued from the Boko Haram terrorists from 23rd November – 5th December 2016. The breakdown is as shown.
The arrest of Cattle Rustlers. On 28th November 2016, 4 persons and a teenager were arrested by own troops deployed at Bulabulin Ngarnan with 4 cows. Arrested persons have been handed over to the Nigeria Police.
Recovery of Arms from Kidnappers. On 2nd December 2016, own troops while on fighting patrol at the general area of Gamji and Kafin Lemu villages in Ningi LGA of Bauchi State encountered some suspected kidnappers who engaged the troops in a gun battle. They were killed in the gun battle that ensued. The troops recovered several arms and ammunition which include 5 Dane guns, a locally made pistol, some cartridges, and charms.
Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device Explosion (PBIED). On 23rd November 2016, there was a loud explosion at gen area of Muna Garage. Troops dispatched to the scene discovered that a suicide bomber and his accomplice detonated their PBIED. Both the suicide bomber and his accomplice died in the process.
Boko Haram terrorists Ambush on Convoy. On 4th December 2016 at about 3.35pm, the rear element of the civilian convoy being escorted by own troops was ambushed by fleeing Boko Haram terrorists from Alagarno general area. Reinforcement from troops deployed at Komala and Musafanari immediately mobilized to clear the ambush. After the exchange of fire with the insurgents, own canter vehicle carrying a faulty motorcycle was carted away, while a civilian was injured and has been stabilized. Also, a white Hilux vehicle in the convoy was carted away while a Boko Haram terrorists buffalo gun truck mounted with Anti-Aircraft gun and spare barrel was captured by own troops. One soldier is currently missing following that encounter.
Escort Duties for Humanitarian Agencies. In the last 2 weeks, our troops have so far provided 38 escorts duties to several humanitarian agencies, staff, and logistics within the Theatre. Troops have equally carried out patrols along the main road to ensure the safe passage of logistics and commuters.
Additional Manpower and In-Theatre Training. During the period under review, 3 additional units were generated to improve on the manpower holding in the operations. Recently, additional special force battalion on completion of Theatre specific training was inducted. Furthermore, in-theatre training for troops is being conducted to boost the operational capacity of the Theatre.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Goodwill Message. The COAS, within the period, sent Goodwill Message to the troops titled “No More Time To Waste” which has been relayed. It has boosted the morale of troops.
Meanwhile, I can confirm to you that the BHTs are in total disarray due to our current military operations. Even the Maman Nur and Shekau factions clashed again recently which has further forced the Boko Haram terrorist remnants at Kafa to disperse in confusion and desperation. Let me, therefore, reiterate my earlier admonishment to the misguided Boko Haram terrorist elements to give up their ignoble adventure. They are advised to surrender to the military or other security agencies without further delay. I wish to re-assure them that they would be humanely treated in line with international best practices and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law. Failure to do so would be unpalatable for them. I wish to equally state that plans have been concluded to give those who surrender, a purpose-driven rehabilitation which will make them lead a responsible life with other citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to once again commend the invaluable support and contributions of all stakeholders in this fight against insurgency in the North East. To the members of the public, I urge you to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons and objects to the military or to the nearest security agencies. The support of President, Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari has been incredible. We in Operation LAFIYA DOLE are encouraged and remain grateful to His Excellency. The direction given by the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai in this operation is unique and we remain grateful. It truly reflects the support of the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Air Staff as well as the Chief of the Naval Staff. The Governments and good people of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States have equally been wonderful in their support to our operations. The Governor of Borno State, in particular, has continued to give additional support to aid our operations. We remain absolutely loyal and committed to the mandate of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. Thank you.
Major General LEO IRABOR
Operation LAFIYA DOLE