Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has insisted that Boko haram has been decimated by the Nigeria Army despite the recent spate of attacks on Nigerian forces by the terrorist group.
The Minister insisted that Nigerian troops have succeeded in decimating the capacity of the Boko Haram terrorist group to carry out spectacular attacks.
This, the Federal Government said, was without prejudice to the fact that the group carried out occasional attacks on soft targets in the North-East.
The minister made this assertion during a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday as he debunked news making the rounds on social media that soldiers on the front line of the Boko haram conflict were fighting in poor conditions; he described the news as ‘Fake News’.
Lai Mohammed said Nigerians need to understand the scope of the Boko Haram insurgency, which grew from a local terrorist group into an international group that attracts funding and support from like minded groups like the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
“When the government says it has decapitated Boko Haram, what government means is that a time was, when even this capital city – Abuja – was not immune from attacks by Boko Haram.
You are all living witnesses to the attack on the United Nations Headquarters, the Nigeria Police headquarters, the ThisDay Newspapers, Nyanya Park twice; but since 2015, all that has become history,” he said.
Lai Mohammed said further that when President Buhari took over in 2015, 20 out of the 27 local government areas in Borno State were under the effective control of Boko Haram as well as four local government areas in Adamawa State.
“Today, we can say confidently that not an inch of our territory is under the control of Boko Haram. They have been repelled even from their spiritual headquarters.”
According to the minister, Boko haram has now been limited to the fringes of Lake Chad and the surrounding Islands between Niger, Cameroon and Chad where they launch attacks on soft targets.
Lai Mohammed further stated that every inch of Nigerian territory was now safe because Boko haram does not have the capacity to overrun towns and declare a caliphate as it did in the past.
Commenting on the welfare of troops fighting Boko haram in the North-east, Mohammed said the Federal Government has confirmed that the welfare of the troops was being properly taken care of contrary to speculations to the contrary on social media.
He asserted that the federal government had alerted Nigerians on the dangers of fake news before the publication that troops were starving on the front lines and were denied their allowances.
“On September 21st, 2018, an online publication reported alleged deplorable conditions of the troops who are fighting Boko Haram in the North-East. Quoting a phantom Corporal, with the pseudonym Gandoki, said to be serving with one of the Special Forces Units in the theatre of operation, the publication alleged that troops deployed in particular along Gubio Road and the Brig.-Gen. Maimalari Secondary School were begging for food to survive, were poorly kitted with some wearing slippers and were facing irregular/short payment of their allowances.” He said
Lai Mohammed stressed that President Buhari took the report seriously and ordered an investigation to determine the veracity or otherwise of claims made in the said publication, saying further;
“The investigation has since been concluded. The summary of the findings is that there is no case of hunger, starvation or begging among the troops fighting in the North-East and in particular in the Armed Forces Special Forces Battalion that was referenced in the publication.
There is also no irregular/short payment of allowances, while claims of poor equipment, inadequate kitting and accommodation are found to be ill-conceived and unfounded.
How then can soldiers who are fed centrally be starving or begging for food? Concerning the payment of allowances, the monthly allowances of troops of the AFSF Battalion are being paid directly into their various accounts from the Defence Headquarters; hence they cannot be shortchanged.
On the allegation of poor equipment and inadequate kitting, it was found that the inflow of logistics into the theatre in the past six months showed an enormous quantity of material was distributed to troops in the theatre. Needless to say, that no army in the world has all the requisite equipment to prosecute counter-insurgency operations.”