Gentlemen of the press, I welcome you all to the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) for yet another live press conference. It is in line with our determination to keep you and by extension, the general public well informed of our activities in Operation LAFIYA DOLE. The last one month since the last press conference has been characterized by intensified operations against the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) group. Major coordinated air and land operations were conducted to further degrade the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) within the period witnessing series of ambushes against BHT, fighting patrols, clearance operations as well as cordon and search operations. While many of the BHT surrendered to own troops following the highly effective and successful operations, others resorted to desperate bid to remain afloat by callously engaging in suicide bombing and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. There were also cases of BHT carrying out ambushes on own troops as a form of reprisal to prove their perversity. To this end, the Mobile Strike Teams (MSTs) which are a highly mobile group of Special Forces teams were inaugurated to secure the Main Supply Routes (MSRs) in addition to conducting limited clearance operations. Notwithstanding the few setbacks recorded, troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE remain undaunted in the accomplishment of their mandate. This brief will thus, shed light on the operational activities of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the last one month.
OWN OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Troops have continued to conduct fighting patrols, clearance and ambush operations to rid the hinterlands of fleeing BHT elements and totally dominate the Theatre. A total of 82 BHT were killed in combat, 630 settlements were cleared while 468 persons were rescued and handed over to various IDP camps within the period under review. Some of the operational activities embarked upon by own troops will be highlighted.
As the first half of the year wrapped up, troops conducted ambush at suspected BHT route along Logomani–Gamboru axis on 29 June 2017. Five BHTs were killed in the ambush operation and troops recovered one AK-47 rifle with registration number: 565203290, one AK 47 magazine, 3 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunitions, 27 bicycles, 15 machetes and 4 daggers and 2 fuel hoses. The following day, precisely on 30 June 2017, troops conducted clearance operations at Musule, Bazanna, Turbuna, Goneri, Muburashe, Murya, Ajira and Durme villages in Dikwa LGA, where 30 persons were rescued and 11 Dane guns, 2 pairs of old camouflage uniform and one Army raincoat believed to have been abandoned by fleeing BHT elements were recovered.
On 5 July 2017, troops at Baale in Damboa LGA carried out an ambush targeting fleeing elements of BHT rummaging for food and logistics. In that operation one BHT was killed. Troops also recovered 2 x bicycles and 2 x Jerry cans filled with guinea corn. In the same vein, on 6 Jul 17, troops on fighting patrol laid ambush for fleeing elements of BHT along Road Gwoza–Pulka. Troops made contact with BHTs and killed one of them, while others fled with gunshot wounds. On 7 July 2017, troops on patrol along Road Monguno–Marte recovered a truck conveying food stuff and other logistics earlier captured by BHT elements from civilians at Kumbulewari in Monguno LGA after a fire fight. The vehicle and its content were subsequently handed over to its owners.
Again, on 8 July 2017, troops on patrol along Road Banki–Bula-Yobe, killed one BHT and recovered one automatic machine gun, one Rocket Propelled Gun, 48 rounds of belted 7.62 mm ammunition and 58 rounds of 5.5 mm ammunition. Other item recovered are 20 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, one FN magazine, one locally made hand grenade, 2 prepared IEDs, 3 pressure plates and one 9V battery. However, the other BHT escaped with gunshot wounds. In another development, troops on fighting patrol engaged fleeing BHTs at Dawashi Gari Village in Baga LGA on 10 July 2017. Four of the BHT were killed while others escaped with gunshot wounds abandoning their motorcycles. Similarly, on 14 – 15 August 2017, troops following a tip off, conducted a fighting patrol to Badu, Dana, Kororon and Moro villages of Baga LGA in pursuit of BHT. The BHT fled on sighting troops. One blanket, 3 solar panel, provision, 2 yards of cloth and 50 cows among others were recovered by the troops.
TROOPS ENCOUNTER WITH BHT
In the period under review, troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE had series of encounters with the BHT in the hinterlands and on fringes of the Lake Chad. Some of the major encounters involved troops deployed at Gulumba Gana recording a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attack on 3 Jul 17. The troops neutralized the attack and killed 3 BHT and recovered one AK 47 with registration number 562703141 and a magazine. Also on 10 July 2017, troops encountered BHT at Kwatara-Kasa village along Road Gwoza-Limankara. Troops killed 4 BHTs and recovered one 36 hand grenade, one VHF Motorola, one empty cylinder, one IED primer, 2 electrical cables and 2 detonating cords during the encounter. Additionally, 3 IEDs were discovered and detonated in situ by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team (EOD). Regrettably, 2 soldiers fell casualty, while 5 soldiers were wounded in action.
On the same day, troops encountered BHT at Mayanti in Bama LGA while the terrorists were foraging for logistics and food. The troops’ firepower subdued the terrorists causing them to flee. The troops pursued the BHT to Chongolo Village within the same LGA, where scores of them were killed after a sustained fire fight. Troops captured 2 gun trucks mounted with Anti-Aircraft guns, one AK 47 rifle, one locally made gun, 1,211 rounds of Anti-Aircraft gun, one Rocket Propelled Gun bomb, 2 AK-47 magazines, one FN magazine, 3 Hilux tyres, one vulcanizing machine, IED materials, one sleeping kit, 5 bags of beans and a BHT banner. Unfortunately, 2 soldiers lost their lives in the encounter. Also, on 31 July 2017, troops deployed at Gulumba Gana in Bama LGA had an encounter with BHTs, killing one BHT and recovering 1 damaged AK-47 and an empty magazine with registration number 562703141. Two soldiers were however wounded in the encounter and are receiving medical attention.
In another encounter, troops on clearance operation to Gashigar and Asaga in Mobbar LGA engaged fleeing BHT killing 2 BHTS in the fire fight and capturing 2 others alive. Troops also captured one AK 47 rifle with registration number 58008971, 4 AK 47 rifle magazines with 89 rounds of 7.62mm (Special), one magazine carrier, one handset, 4 motorcycles and the sum of one hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand Naira (₦138,000.00) only. Sadly, on 25 Jul 17 troops escorting NNPC oil exploration team entered BHT ambush around Borno Yesu Village in Magumeri. The exercise had held for 3 weeks without any hitch and the day of the incident was supposed to be the last day of the exercise. Although reinforcement was dispatched as soon as the information got to the nearest unit, the difficult communication experienced by troops on that day compounded the situation. Regrettably some members of the exploration team are still missing in addition to other casualties recorded. May I at this juncture use this opportunity to commiserate with the families of the deceased and also reassure the public that operations are still on-going to rescue the missing individuals and all other persons held captive.
It is also worthy to mention that the reinforcement team dispatched to the scene of the incident had an encounter with some of the BHT that carried out the dastardly act. Many of them were killed in the process with troops capturing 3 Toyota Hilux vans, one Buffalo pickup, 4 rocket propelled bombs, 6 AK-47 rifles, one Anti-Aircraft gun and its spare barrel. Other items recovered are one Rocket Propelled Gun, 4 Dane guns, 122 PKM ammunition, 213 GPMG ammunition, 1,255 Anti-Aircraft ammunition, 8 tyres, 2 rims, one pumping machine, 2 jacks, one car battery, 5 reflective jackets, one Motorola radio, one Global Positioning System (GPS), 2 shovels, and working tools among others.
Also, on 5 August 2017, troops successfully neutralized BHT at a known BHT crossing point along Road Mayanti – Banki Junction, killing 12 insurgents in the encounter. Troops recovered among other things 18 bicycles, 30 bags of flour, one bag of groundnut, 2 bags of salt, 2 baskets of kolanut, one carton of mixed juice, 4 rolls of Shadda material, 2 packets of candles and one carton of detergent. Other items recovered include 5 packets of tyre cold-patch, 2 packets of seasoning, 5 torchlights, 2 pairs of slippers, 2 packets of yeast, 4 packets of Vedan seasoning, 2 rolls of thread, 4 kegs of herbicide, 14 packets of insecticide, 20L gallon of groundnut oil, one bag of pepper and the sum of four thousand naira.
ARREST OF SUSPECTED BHT
During the period under review, troops intercepted fleeing BHT attempting to seek refuge in IDP camps and other communities within the Theatre. This vigilant posture by troops and Civilian Joint Task Force members as well as some clan heads resulted in the arrest of 313 insurgents who are currently undergoing investigations.
On 2 Jul 17, troops on stop and search operations along Road Nguru – Kano arrested 19 years old suspected BHT, Momodu Lamin who claimed to be returning from Togo through Chad with a black Honda motorcycle. On the same day, troops arrested Haruna Audu at Fish Dam, Baga while trying to infiltrate troops’ defensive position. Troops also arrested BHT, Ibrahim Alkali Musa aka Ba-Abba with gunshot wound in Mobbar following a tip off. The suspect was also found in possession of one AK 47 rifle loaded with a magazine of 30 rounds. Additionally, a BHT logistician Musa Mamman was arrested on 12 July 2017 by troops in conjunction with CJTF at Baga. The suspect was charged with ferrying food items to BHT enclave around the Lake Chad. In another development, Ari Mustapha, a fleeing BHT of about 30 years old was arrested on 12 Jul 17 while trying to gain access to Government Girls Secondary School IDP Camp, Monguno to seek refuge.
Also, on 15 July 2017, Husseini Musa who is popularly known among the BHT ranks as Abdulkadir Abubakar was arrested at Ngelzarma Village in Fune LGA while fleeing to Potiskum under the pretext that he was a scrap dealer gave useful information to troops during investigations. This information bordered on how the group operate and locations of key commanders with whom he has operated with. Similarly, BHT Ibrahim Bako Umar (aka Abu Ibrahim) was arrested at Tashan Kano Motor Park, Maiduguri on 8 August 2017 and is now also cooperating with our investigation team and giving useful information on Abor Mainok, the suspected mastermind of the ambush of the NNPC exploration team. We are factoring all the information from the investigations into on-going operations and I want to assure you that our successes will continue to speak for itself.
The on-going clearance operations as well as the coordinated air and artillery bombardments being conducted by troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE are yielding positive results. Many of the BHT foot soldiers are abandoning the futile struggle and senseless ideologies of the group to surrender to own troops. During the period, a total of 69 insurgents have denounced terrorism and surrendered to own troops. In line with the Federal Government de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, the surrendered BHT have been moved to Operation SAFE CORRIDIOR camps for further action. However, this is not without having obtained useful information from them. The Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE is once again calling on the insurgents to surrender to any military location nearest to them, as there will be no cessation of the on-going offensive until BHT are completed defeated.
RECOVERY OF WEAPONS
Closely related to the recent cases of BHT surrender is the discovery during patrols and clearance operations of weapons and ammunition abandoned by BHT. In the last one month, 17 automatic weapons and 1,471 rounds of ammunition have been recovered by troops either along bush paths or under the rocks. An instance was the recovery of a machine gun under a rock at Bakin Duste Village in Madagali LGA by troops on 10 July 2017. Another, was the recovery of 1 AK-47 rifle with registration number AN 50658, 1 magazine loaded with 12 x rounds of 7.62mm (Special) on 11 July 2017, by troops on patrol along Road Gwoza – Pulka. It is pertinent to state that the BHT ranks are been depleted by members who are abandoning their weapons to either flee the theatre of operation or surrender to troops. So, members of the public are once again advised to be very vigilant and report any suspicious or strange person(s) in their area to the nearest security agency or military location as they may be part of the fleeing BHT.
BHT IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE ATTACKS
The BHT have continued to undermine International Humanitarian Laws and fundamental principles of human rights through the forceful use of women and children to carry out suicide attacks on soft and vulnerable targets. During the period, 2 cases of children donated by their parents to BHT for them to be used for suicide missions were recorded. One involved a female named Zainab Abubakar of about 11 years from Geidam who was arrested during a suicide mission in Konduga. The other involved 16-year-old Abba Bor Kura of Sabsawa Village in Bama LGA who was arrested by the Cameroun Defence Forces along our borders while on a suicide mission and subsequently handed over to own troops. The 2 cases are currently being investigated. I wish to once again urge parents not to allow themselves to be cowed by the terrorists into submitting their children for suicide mission. Any person having information on such nefarious activities within the Theatre is please advised to report same to the nearest military location.
Meanwhile, other Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device (PBIED) incidents recorded during the period include suicide bombing attacks on UNIMAID between 6 and 7 July 2017 and an attempt by a 15-year-old female suicide bomber (Aisha Abdullahi) to attack Dalori IDP Camp 2, which was successfully foiled by troops. A PBIED incident was also recorded in Molai Kalmeri on 11 July 2017 when unsuspecting people gathered at a local tea joint were infiltrated by a female suicide bomber who joined the queue to buy noodles and in the process detonated her suicide vest. Regrettably, seven persons were killed in the incident while 2 CJTF members were killed by a second suicide bomber in the same area.
On 23 July 2017, troops deployed around Dalori IDP Camp-2 again foiled another suicide attack on the Camp. The suicide bomber had tried penetrating the Camp through the fence but she was sighted and engaged by troops which resulted in the detonation of her suicide vest killing only the suicide bomber. However, on the same day, a male suicide bomber was able to infiltrate through the fence at Dalori IDP Camp-1 and detonate his suicide vest killing himself and 2 persons while 7 others were wounded.
Two PBIED incidents of great concern were however recorded during the period. First was on 28 July 2017, when 2 suicide bombers pretending to be traders from Maiduguri went beside 20 Housing Estate Dikwa IDP Camp in Dikwa and requested to buy grains given as relief materials to the IDPs. They subsequently detonated their vest in the crowd that followed killing 14 IDPs while 29 others were wounded. The other suicide attack occurred on 15 August 2017 in Mandarari Market of Konduga LGA where 3 BHT suicide bombers detonated themselves within the market. Sadly, 16 innocent lives were lost in that incident while 82 others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
The increased vigilance by the military and other security agents around UNIMAID and Dalori IDP Camps have assisted greatly in stemming the PBIED incidents in the area. The on-going construction of a perimeter fence around UNIMAID would also go a long way in defeating the PBIED threats. Meanwhile counter IED network operations are been undertaken by the Theatre Command in conjunction with other stakeholders to address the PBIED incidence. The populace is equally reminded to be vigilant always as the terrorists are employing PBIED attacks to show relevance and collectively this should not be allowed to continue.
BILATERAL MEETING WITH CAMEROUN DEFENCE AND SECURITY FORCES
As a mark of commitment to the on-going war against terror, senior officers of the Cameroun Defence and Security Forces led by Brigadier General Nka Valere, the outgone Commander of the 4th Joint Military Region visited the Headquarters Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE on 10 July 2017. The joint security assessment meeting discussed the possibilities of re- opening Road Maiduguri-Bama-Banki junction–Mora among other things. The meeting was quite fruitful in proffering feasible lines of action to be taken by both parties to ensure the complete defeat of the BHT.
LAUNCHING OF MOBILE STRIKE TEAMS
In line with the operational design to further ensure the complete denial of freedom of action and final decimation of the BHT, 3 Mobile Strike Teams (MST) were operationalized within the Theatre to cover some major routes/axes. These selected Special Forces units which have been adequately equipped with firepower and mobility will form the first phase of the transition of most of the formations within the Theatre into mobile brigades. As such, more MSTs would be operationalized in the coming weeks to conduct long range patrols, ambushes and raids deep into the hinterlands in addition to ensuring the Main Supply Routes (MSRs) are adequately secured.
CORDON AND SEARCH OPERATIONS
Recent intelligence reports on the infiltration of fleeing BHT into some major towns and communities have led to series of cordon and search operations within Maiduguri and its environs as well as other major towns. The cordon and search operations are being conducted by own troops in conjunction with personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, as well as the Civilian Joint Task Force and it is still on-going. It was during one of these cordon and search operations that the unfortunate incident of 10 August 2017 where troops searched a building that was later reported to be UN Agency premises was recorded. It is gladdening to state that the incident has been amicably resolved and steps have been jointly taken to prevent a recurrence.
In drawing the curtain on this press briefing, I must state here that the final defeat of the BHT is imminent. Therefore, I call on all Boko Haram members to abandon their hypocritical leaders who live in affluence but deceive their followers by luring them to death through false ideologies. Boko Haram ideologies and its course are premised on falsehood and apparently a futile struggle. All insurgents who are willing to turn a new leaf are advised to surrender to any military location nearest to them. We guaranty your safety and rehabilitation as well as re-integration into the society if you surrender.
Thank you for your time and attention.
30 August 2017