AFRICANGLOBE – Following the declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan last Tuesday, and the deployment of over 3000 troops and Counter Terrorists Squad (CTS) within 24 hours of the declaration, the military, yesterday, launched air and ground offensive in the thick forests of Sambisa, Borno State, an area which the Boko Haram sect was reported to have used as a recruiting and training base.
A curfew (6 pm to 6 am) has also been imposed in the three states while banks and other public and government businesses have also been instructed to suspend their operations. Some of the residents in Yola, welcomed the offensive with a trader in Jimeta Market, Audu John saying, “the state has been under the control of gunmen for so long, this state of emergency is long overdue.”
Soldiers Dislodge Boko Haram Members
A senior military officer who spoke under conditions of anonymity said that soldiers attacked the area and dislodged the sect members who fled following the heavy military onslaught.
The source added that the sect was yet to mount any serious offensive stressing that the Nigerian Army was backed by the Nigerian Air Force who are part of the operations. The source also said that soldiers are hunting down members of the Boko Haram sect in all their identified bases in Gashua, Yobe State.
According to the source, “in line with the directive from Mr. President and military authorities to immediately dislodge the sect members, who are terrorising the states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno in particular, as well as some other states of the federation since 2009 to date, our men raided some terrorist camps in the Sambisa Game Reserve, and other camps of the sect in the affected states, which I believe will have a positive outcome”.
Another source who corroborated this claim said: “So far, more than 2,000 troops have been deployed to Borno, and as I am talking to you, the massive operation and manhunt of Boko Haram members along Sambisa Game Reserve has started”. He, however, declined to comment on the forces sent to the other affected states of Yobe and Adamawa.
The commencement of the offensive has also affected telecommunication services in the affected states as calls could neither be made or received which was believed was aimed at giving the security operatives easy chance to embark on their mission without hindrance.
Defence Headquarters Deploy More Troops
The Defence headquarters also, yesterday, ordered the deployment of more troops to take care of new hideouts (bunkers) and escape routes recently discovered.
This followed intelligence reports that the Boko Haram terrorists and insurgents are now looking for ways to escape the expected bombardments on their hideouts.
It was further gathered that the new deployments would see units and military formations from the Southern flank of the country being airlifted by Air Force Hercules C-130 and the G222 medium range carriers to parts of the North as back up on standby.
This is as a result of the fact that over half of the standing troops of the Infantry, Artillery and Armoured Corps in the Northern flank have continued to flood the three terror-prone states whose land mass and mountainous terrain is expected to pose challenges.
A military source said: “These miscreants underestimated the capabilities of the Nigerian Armed Forces. What they are seeing now and running into their hideouts is just deployments and movement. Wait until we begin continuous bombardments, then they will realize that democracy doesn’t mean you take the country for a ride”.
The Director of Defence Information, Brig. General Chris Olukolade, when contacted, confirmed that more troops are being deployed from other divisions of the Nigerian Army.
According to him, more logistics are also being provided by the military authorities to back up the deployment.
Olukolade said that no amount of deployment of troops to the troubled areas would be too much until the terrorists are wiped out from the country.
He said that deployments have already commenced to all the border towns of the three states and that very soon the dividend of the operation will begin to manifest.
Gen. Olukolade declined to disclose the number of troops so far deployed but said that a sizable number are already on ground and if need be, more will be sent to the area.
“As I am talking to you now, we are not only sending troops but they are heavily backed up with equipment that can stand the test of time when confronting the insurgency”, he added.
Cameroon Agrees to Cooperate With Nigeria
Meanwhile, Nigeria and Cameroon have agreed to strengthen cooperation and collaboration on trans-border security following the declaration of a state of emergency in the North-Eastern states which share borders with Cameroon.
This was disclosed, yesterday, after President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan met with the Cameroonian Vice Prime Minister, Mr. Ahmadou Ali, who brought a special message from the Camerounian president Paul Biya to President Jonathan.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, yesterday, said the special message from President Paul Biya included an invitation to attend a summit on security and maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea to be hosted by Cameroon.
He said President Jonathan accepted the invitation, and said current global security challenges make it imperative for countries to cooperate maximally in order to protect their citizens.
“As criminality and terrorism have risen globally, it is important for countries to cooperate maximally, in order to protect citizens’, he stated.
President Jonathan briefed the Cameroonian Vice Prime Minister about the state of emergency declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States this week, and assured the special envoy that Nigeria would work with her neighbours to ensure security in the sub-region.
He requested Mr. Ali to convey Nigeria’s appreciation to President Biya for the cooperation he has extended and the warm relations between the two countries.
Earlier, the Cameroonian Vice Prime Minister, Mr. Ahmadou Ali, had told President Jonathan that his country was already identifying members that will form part of the committee on trans-border security.
By: Kingsley Omonobi, Ben Agande, and Ndahi Marama