AFRICANGLOBE – With the federal government gaining the upper hand against the terror group Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday made another unannounced visit to Baga, Mubi and Vintim in Borno and Adamawa States, respectively.
The president’s whistle stop trip to the North-east came one day after the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Kenneth Minimah, visited troops in Baga and about a month after he (Jonathan) visited troops in Maiduguri.
The president, who arrived Yola airport at about 11 am in the company of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh, other service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, proceeded by helicopter to Mubi where he met with troops of 155 Special Task Force battalion and residents of the town who had returned after its recapture by Nigerian troops.
The president then paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Mubi, Alhaji Abubakar Isa, to sympathise with him and the people of Mubi over the loss of their loved ones and property destroyed by the insurgents.
Mubi is the second largest city in Adamawa and was among those recaptured from Boko Haram by the military late last year.
The president was also reported to have visited Vintim, the hometown of Badeh, which was recovered from the Islamist group about the same time as Mubi.
Speaking on the president’s visit, a resident of Mubi, Idris Buba, said there was heavy security in the town during Jonathan’s visit.
“When the president and his entourage left the emir’s palace, they headed to Vintim village, the hometown of the Chief of Defence Staff who was also in the president’s entourage,” Buba said.
According to him, the president also held a closed-door meeting with the service chiefs who had driven ahead of him to Vintim.
After the meeting, the president flew to the Maiduguri air force base, from where he proceeded to Baga, Borno State.
In Baga, the president also met with the troops to boost their morale and thanked them for their courage and gallantry in the prosecution of the war against terror.
A source said he told the troops that their efforts would not be in vain and their victories in recent weeks had made Nigerians proud.
He was reported to have told them that the federal government would not relent in ensuring that their welfare is taken care of and promised to keep giving them all the necessary support in their push to rout the insurgents.
Prior to the town’s recapture by Nigerian troops last week, Baga was attacked for three successive days by the terrorists early last month, leading to its occupation and death of hundreds of residents.
Satellite imagery released by Amnesty International (AI) last month showed the level of destruction in Baga after the onslaught by the Islamist group.
In a statement by the president’s spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, the presidency confirmed Jonathan’s trip to Baga and Mubi where he commended the troops for proving their mettle once again through the rapid recapture of territories formerly held by insurgents.
Jonathan, Abati said, conveyed his pride and that of all Nigerians for their bravery, competence and patriotism in their efforts to expel the insurgents from all parts of the North-east.
“The president said with their recent successes, which overwhelmingly turned the tide against Boko Haram, the Nigerian military had proven beyond any doubt that it remains fully capable of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria,” the statement said.
The military’s recent victories against Boko Haram, according to Jonathan, had also proven conclusively that all those, within and outside the country, who had cast aspersions on Nigerian soldiers and questioned their ability and willingness to overcome the insurgents were misinformed and wrong.
He assured the troops that the federal government would ensure that they receive all the equipment and logistics they require to complete the ongoing mission to reassert government’s effective control over all areas formerly held by Boko Haram.
Jonathan equally promised the soldiers that all issues pertaining to their welfare would be properly and expeditiously addressed.
He assured them that they would be duly rewarded for their bravery and patriotic service to the nation after the successful conclusion of ongoing operations against Boko Haram.
Families of soldiers who have sadly lost their lives in battles against Boko Haram would also be well provided for, the president also informed the troops.
The soldiers responded to the president’s address with chants of “never again” and assured him that insurgents and terrorists would never again be allowed to take and hold any Nigerian territory.
While in Mubi, President Jonathan, accompanied by the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala Ngilari, and the Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Bonnie Haruna, paid a courtesy call on the Emir, Alhaji Isa Ahmadu.
He assured the emir that the federal government would do all within its powers to ensure that normalcy is speedily returned to Mubi and other towns and settlements recently recaptured from Boko Haram to enable displaced persons return to their homes in the shortest possible time.
Jonathan also undertook an aerial inspection of other towns and areas recently recaptured from Boko Haram including Monguno.
Before returning to Abuja, the president met and conferred with the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Security Agencies Trailing Sect Members
But as bombers continue to wreak havoc in towns in northern Nigeria, the Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC) and Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri, has said that intelligence agencies are on the trail of dispersed Boko Haram members.
This is just as the government revealed that children of influential Nigerians were being recruited into ISIS.
“The reports show that these youths who are mostly children of the rich and affluent are being recruited into ISIS. We therefore call on parents and guardians, especially those whose wards are schooling abroad, to closely monitor the activities of these students who may be susceptible to the antics of the promoters of the ISIS ideology,” he said.
Omeri also said that government was more interested in arresting Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau alive, but said he could be overrun through other means, if arresting him proved impossible.
“Intelligence is on the trail of dispersed Boko Haram members and their leader. Also, the order was clear, capture Shekau alive until that proves impossible,” he said.
According to him, “Remarkable success has been recorded by the Nigerian military in the ongoing war against terror in the North-eastern part of the country.
“There is also stiff resistance to insurgents’ incursions into the country at several border points and the recapture of several towns and settlements which had Boko Haram presence earlier.”
The settlements include Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso, Wanti, Jeram and Karisungul, he said.
By: Jaiyeola Andrews, Adebiyi Adedapo, Michael Olugbode, Daji Sani and Seriki Adinoyi