Arrest 40 mercenaries
Recover Shekau’s Qur’an, flag
30 surrender to Nigerien Force
By Sadiq Abubakar
The Nigerian Army has arrested 1,240 Boko Haram terrorists, as well as 40 mercenaries within the much dreaded Sambisa forest in the last one week.
Similarly, 30 members of the group have also surrendered to the neighbouring Nigerien troops, Theatre Commander of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Major-General Lucky Irabor, has said.
He made the disclosures yesterday at the Theatre Command Headquarters, Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri, during a parley with journalists.
Of the captured 1,240 insurgents, he said 413 were adult males, 323 (adult females), 251 (male children), and 253 (female children), while the 30 others that surrendered to the Nigerien troops were made up of 20 males, 6 females and 4 others.
He, however, said the operation was still ongoing at the Sambisa forest and other parts of the North-east to ensure total extinction of the Boko Haram remnants across the sub region and even the entire North.
General Irabor further called on individuals and organisations, to, as a matter of national interest and security, assist by coming to the aid of the military with useful information about the remnants of the criminal elements in their midst, in order to end the insurgency completely and permanently.
He commended efforts of the media and all stakeholders in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the region and the country at large, while disclosing that already plans had reached an advanced stage by the military for the construction of roads into the Sambisa forest to make it a training ground for the military.
The army general said the military now expects other security agencies to take over the liberated areas and even Sambisa forest and allow residents to return to their various communities.
In a related development, more than 40 hired mercenaries were arrested within the same period in the forest .
Blueprint gathered through multiple sources that “the profiling of the foreigners which has started, is to determine whether or not they were working in cahoots with Boko Haram insurgents, who are fleeing their former stronghold.
“The military has blocked all known entry and exit points into the forest for effective mop-up.”
According to a top military source, the identities of the foreigners and their missions in S ambisa Forest will not be revealed until after a thorough screening has been completed. “Intelligence officers are profiling the foreigners, who are suspected to be providing “back-up” for Boko Haram. “In the last one week since we launched massive operations in Sambisa Forest, we have arrested over 40 foreigners.
“We will come up with the details later after the profiling of these suspects. They are all being debriefed. But we discovered that there were so many foreigners in the midst of Boko Haram. We have also rescued a lot of people who are being screened too,” explained our source.
Responding to a question, the source explained the significance of the military routing of the insurgents in Sambisa, saying the troops’ success was no fluke.
“As for the operations in Sambisa Forest, our gallant troops have successfully taken over Camp Zero and Camp S (Shape) which are the headquarters of Boko Haram.
“The success of the operations is significant because there is no habitation beyond these areas in Sambisa Forest. The area is about 66,000 sq kilometres and there are so many parts uninhabited.
“Many insurgents, including their leaders, were killed and many were captured. Many insurgents are now fleeing. The situation now is that Boko Haram insurgents have been dispersed and dislocated.”
On the fate of the remaining Chibok girls, the source said: “The fleeing Boko Haram insurgents must have relocated them from Sambisa Forest but we are already hunting for them.”
Also speaking on the development, Director of Defence Information, Brigadier-General Rabe Abubakar, said: “The operation in Sambisa Forest is still ongoing. Troops are not relenting. We are now all over the place. We’ll ensure no entry to Sambisa Forest; no exit.
“We have advised Nigerians to be wary of fleeing insurgents who may likely disguise.”
Another top security source also told our correspondent that the successful invasion of Sambisa Forest had entered the second phase, which is the pursuit of the fleeing insurgents.
The source, who admitted that the operations in Sambisa were both intelligence-driven and military onslaughts, said the elimination of the insurgents from the forest was 90 per cent completed.
The security chief added: “We have finished almost 90 per cent of the job with Boko Haram. We are now in the second phase which is the most difficult. We are pursuing the fleeing Boko Haram insurgents.
“The good thing is that we prepared for this fallout (the fleeing of the insurgents) long before the takeover of Sambisa Forest. We are trained professionals to curtail the effects of Boko Haram insurgency, especially the fallout of routing them out. We are apprehending the fleeing insurgents. Even yesterday, we took some of them in.”