Nigerian Army Press Briefing By Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander, Maj. Gen. I. Attahiru

Nigerian Army Press Briefing By Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander, Maj. Gen. I. Attahiru
Nigerian Army Press Briefing By Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander, Maj. Gen. I. Attahiru

Nigerian Army Press Briefing By Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander, Maj. Gen. I. Attahiru

Press briefing by Major General Ibrahim Attahiru theatre commander Operation Lafiya Dole on thursday 6th July, 2017 in Maiduguri

1. Gentlemen of the press, it is my pleasure this afternoon to welcome you all to the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) for an update on the progress of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. Let me start by once again reassuring you that the fight against BHT by officers and soldiers of Operation LAFIYA DOLE remains on course in spite of the recent changes of some commanders within the Theatre. The troops have been relentless in sustaining the tempo of the operation to win the peace, as they continue to clear remnants of the BHTs. Today’s brief, will highlight some of the on-going operations in pursuit of fleeing BHTs with the sole aim of neutralising and consequently defeating the threat. It will also feature some other occurrences which have relationship with BHT activities within the theatre. The brief will therefore cover the period since the last press briefing to date.

ONGOING OPERATIONS

2.​Update on Chukun Gudu Operations. Troops commenced the Chikun Gudun operations in northern Borno particularly Marte LGA to clear remnants of BHT using some islands in the area as enclaves. So far, the operation has made meaningful progress with the clearing and destruction of BHT hideouts at Baranga and Katikima during which 9 BHTs were killed and 17 motorcycles destroyed. Troops also cleared Chukun Gudu, Tumbuma Karami and Tumbuma Baba where 13 BHTs were killed while the troops recovered 3 AK 47 rifles, one pump action, 4 FN magazines, 3 AK 47 magazines, 19 rounds of 7.62mm special, 287 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, one barrel of anti-aircraft gun and 4 BHT flags. Other items captured are one tool box, 2 x 10 units of machine gun links, one Toyota Land Cruiser van and 5 Toyota Land Cruiser tyres. Troops also destroyed 2 Toyota Land Cruiser van, one Toyota truck, 2 motorcycles, 6 bicycles and 3 BHT flags in situ.

3.​Operation Deep Punch. Operation DEEP PUNCH was flagged off on 8 Apr 17 after the completion of the NASAC 2017 which was conducted within the Sambisa Forest. It was designed to further consolidate on troops’ domination of the Sambisa Forest. During the operation, troops progressively cleared Modube, Yiwe, Tokumbere, Lokwansa, Angwa Lawal Nmusa, Tulatuge and Parisu. The successful conduct of these operations denied BHT freedom of action and further consolidated troops hold of the Sambisa Forest general area. Two notable events during Operation DEEP PUNCH were as follows:

a.​On 27 Apr 17 troops on Operation DEEP PUNCH encountered 2 Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) followed by BHT sporadic fire in the general area of Mangusum in Damboa LGA. This was a futile attempt by the insurgents to slow down or completely halt the advance of own troops engaged in the Operation. Own troops successfully repelled the attack and killed 2 BHT including Abu Fatimah, the Commander of BHT in Buk – Talala – Ajigin axis. Abu Fatimah belongs to the Abu Musab Al barnawi faction of the BHT and one of the 3 trusted commanders of the factional leader. Many other injured BHT and the casualties were evacuated while other members of the group fled the scene. Own troops captured 64 rounds of 7.62mm cartridge material link, one empty magazine of AK 47, a bandolier and one 36 hand grenade amongst others.

b.​Also, on the same day, troops had another encounter with BHT at the Abu Ali Range site in Bama LGA, killing 15 BHT and destroying one VBIED. Troops also recovered one Buffalo gun truck with a long barrel Shilka gun, 2 GPMG, one PKM gun, 2 mortar tubes, 3 AK 47 rifles, 2 FN rifles, one G3 rifle, 5 mortar bombs (60 mm), 3 GSM phones, one 36 hand grenade, 12 rifle magazines, 12 vehicle batteries, 3 Quran, one AGL gun, 3 AGL bombs, 2 BHT banners, 5 mortar charges, one switch cable, one Shilka fill tray, 750 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition (NATO) and 106 rounds of 32mm (Shilka).

4.​Operation RAWAN KADA. Op RAWAN KADA is MNJTF operation involving our troops as well as Chadians and Nigerien forces. It commenced about 3 months ago with the objective of clearing the general area along the fringes of the Lake Chad and the areas around the Nigerian-Nigerien border from Gashirgar – Abadam – Arege – Metele up to Kangarwa. Operation RAWAN KADA troops cleared 11 villages along the axis, namely Douma, Kilewa, Damara, Abaga, kilikali Bori, Kalibowa, Karo, Kumaguma, Gashigar, Bogum – Gashigar, Jugula Kura, Giri Jabulam and Menaregi in Mar 17. The troops as at 24 Jun 17 have also successfully cleared Abadam and Arege with many BHT killed and a large cache of weapons recovered during the operation. However, not without 2 personnel from the allied forces paying the supreme price.

CLEARANCE OPERATIONS​

5.​In the period under review, our troops conducted several clearance operations to rid the hinterlands of fleeing BHT elements. An aggregate of 860 settlements were cleared of BHT by troops and 404 Boko Haram insurgents were killed. Some of the major clearance operations are as follows:

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a.​On 5 Mar 17, troops conducted clearance operation in the outskirts of Maiduguri through Wanori and Kofi to dominate Ayuti, Nguwo Fato, Alou dam, Kayamla, Ali kamari and Ungurongwu general areas. Other villages cleared by the troops during the operations are Ajiri Molai, Umarari, Maiborti, Alajiri, Gala Ngabori, Bala, Bulama Jidda Ndolori and the operation terminated at Njimtilo.

b.​In another clearance operation involving bilateral forces, the combined troops of Op LAFIYA DOLE and Cameroonian Defence Forces cleared areas along the Nigeria/Cameroun border particularly around Bama LGA. Some of the settlements cleared include Sirsya, Kote and Sigawa villages as well as Bula Bundiye, Adeleke, Tchatile and Lanukura villages. The operation led to the capture of 5 BHT, 7 dane guns and 2 motorcycles.

c.​On 9 March 17, troops with the support of CJTF and vigilantes also cleared Gumuldi, Gama, Muyile and Lamboshe villages along Road Dikwa – Gulumba Gana. They recovered 11 dane guns and one solar panel at Lamboshe. The troops also successfully cleared Jaje, Gori and Chakawa villages during which 38 suspected BHT families were intercepted and currently undergoing investigation. In the same vein, troops cleared Deima, Artano, Saduguma, Duve, Bordo, Kala, Bok, Magan, Misherde, Ahisari, Gilgil, Mika, Hiwa, Kutila and Shirawa settlements within the general area of Kala – Balge LGA. At Kutila village, troops came under heavy BHT attack which was successfully repelled. Troops captured one gun truck, one Canter truck and one civil vehicle from the BHT. At Shirawa, the troops neutralised a BHT camp and recovered 2 newly prepared suicide vests and a grinding machine. A total of 455 inhabitants held hostage were rescued from the cleared villages and taken to Rann IDP camp.

d.​On 16 Mar 17, troops on clearance operation to Bushari village in Mafa LGA encountered fleeing BHT. Two BHT were killed during a fierce battle while troops recovered one Rocket Propelled Grenade bomb, 3 dane guns, one double barrel pump action gun, 2 bandoliers and 23 empty cases of Shilka rounds used for making IED. Other items recovered include 2 water containers, one motorcycle battery, one search light, 4 knives, one solar panel, two 25 litres of automated gas oil, one sewing machine, 12 food flasks, foodstuffs, beverages, 8 pairs of women shoes and several clothes. Similarly, troops conducted clearance operation to clear Adamari and Tsulala villages in Dikwa LGA. Troops came in contact with BHT at Tsulala village and 5 x BHT were killed while 1,018 civilians held captive were rescued by the troops.

e.​On 23 Mar 17, troops successfully cleared Gombole and destroyed one IED factory. Three motorcycles, 4 primed suicide vests and 4 desert camouflage uniform were recovered from the site. The troops also rescued 4 women and 6 children. Furthermore, troops encountered IED between Bitta and Tokumbere to which one of our soldiers fell casualty and 3 others were wounded in action. The troops however discovered and detonated 5 other primed IEDs. Additionally, troops cleared Mastafanamari, Talbari, Busugu and Nglameri where contact was made with BHT. During the fire fight, the insurgents fled abandoning 2 motorcycles, several bicycles, drums filled with grains, a Lister generator and a grinding machine. Also discovered were 4 dane guns, 2 white banners, 8 Quran with other Islamic books, 7 slates with Arabic inscriptions, mechanical tools, a spare tyre, 3 yards of cloth, a pair of shoes, some pain relievers and a hospital card of Cameroun Republic belonging to one Fana Modou.

f.​On 18 Apr 17, own troops conducted clearance operation to Dissa and Patawe villages in Gwoza LGA where they encountered pockets of fleeing BHT. In the ensuing fire fight, 6 BHTs were killed and 6 AK 47 Rifle, 22 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, one AK 47 magazine with 9 rounds, 3 bicycles and one BHT banner.

g.​Following credible intelligence, troops cleared BHTs converging in the Jarawa general area of Kala-Balge after an encounter on 11 Jun 17. The clearance operation left 35 BHTs dead, including one Abu Nazir identified as the Amir of Jarawa village. Troops also recovered one AK47 rifle with Registration number: NX 9321, one Russian made double barrel, one IED and 3 motorcycles.

h.​On 4 July 2017, troops conducted clearance patrol to Katara Gidan Dutse along Gwoza – Limankara Road, where 8 BHT were killed in an encounter while one was captured alive. Troops also destroyed an IED factory ran by the insurgents and recovered cans of fertilizer for making IED, 1 tool box, 11 rounds of 7.62 mm (NATO), 6 rounds of fabricated 7.62mm (NATO),11 rounds of fabricated 7.62mm (Special) ammunitions and 4 BHT banners.

TROOPS ENCOUNTER WITH BHT

6.​A number of encounters were attempted by elements of fleeing BHT against own troops during the period under review. Most of the attempts were unsuccessful and promptly defeated by own troops. Some of the details are as follows:

a.​On 15 Mar 17, troops location at Magumeri was attacked by elements of BHT. Though the attack was repelled, it was not without a cost. Regrettably we lost an officer and 4 soldiers in the attack. Unconfirmed number of BHT were killed in that attack and troops captured one gun truck, 1 anti-aircraft guns, 2 anti-aircraft spare barrels, 2 Rocket Propelled Gun bombs, 31 pieces of explosives, one roll of detonating cord, one 60mm mortar bomb, 160 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) links and 172 rounds of anti-aircraft gun links. Others are 3 spare tyres with rims, one vulcanizing pumping machine, one motorcycle, assorted foodstuffs and drugs, 3 pairs of camouflage uniforms and 12 blankets. Also, on 17 Apr 17, at about 1815 hours, troops deployed at Forward Operational Base Sabon Gari had an encounter with BHT. It is quite unfortunate that during the fierce engagement to quell the attack. Sadly we lost 5 of our soldiers who fought gallantly to defend the location. 9 soldiers who were wounded in the encounter are still receiving medical attention.

b.​On 7 Jun 17, troops had an encounter with BHT elements who sneaked into Jadari Polo, a community in Maiduguri town. In the process, they set some houses ablaze and attempted to attack an IDP camp in the area. In the ensuing encounter with own troops that went for reinforcement, 3 BHT were killed, one AK 47 rifle and 2 mortar bombs were recovered while normalcy was immediately restored to the area.

c.​On 20 Jun 17, civilian convoy being escorted to Damboa was ambushed by BHT elements at Abari village along Maiduguri – Damboa Road. Reinforcement was dispatched to the scene to extricate the convoy.

SUICIDE BOMBERS AND IED ATTACKS

7.​Current developments indicate that the BHT having been decimated, have callously resorted to use of innocent women and children to carry out suicide IED attacks on soft and vulnerable targets. They have also used this category of people as human shields when attacking own troops, in a show of utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and incorrigible disregard for International Humanitarian Law and fundamental human rights. In most of their morbid attempts, the suicide bombers blew up themselves as our troops responsively engage them before they reach their targets.

8.​On the whole, 97 IED incidents including PBIEDs and VBIEDs were recorded during this period. Aside employing physical security measures, troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE have also made it a point of duty to sensitize the public on these developments through various media. This is to increase awareness and bring about certain behavioural changes that will shore up public alertness to counter the BHT IED campaign. It is pertinent to once again use this opportunity to call on the good people of the North East, particularly Borno State to work hands in glove with the security forces by being vigilant and report suspicious persons and activities to security agencies.

RESCUED CIVILIANS​

9.​The period under review has witnessed a lot of operations to extricate locals who were held hostage or escaping from fleeing BHTs who are seeking refuge in far flung villages in the hinterland as our troops intensify their clearance efforts. Unfortunately a developing trend indicates that some fleeing BHTs are now melting into groups of locals in an attempt to stealthily join up in IDP camps as IDPs. A good number of them have been identified and arrested as own troops in collaboration with other para military agencies meticulously screen the locals before they are admitted into the IDP Camps. A case in point was on 7 Mar 17 when troops uncovered and arrested 5 BHTs who had disguised as Internally Displaced Persons among a group of 474 persons intercepted by troops when approaching Dikwa from Muliye and Masa villages along Road Dikwa- Gulumba Gana. On the whole 19, 642 persons were rescued, screened and handed over to various IDP camps during the period under review.

ARREST OF BHT SUSPECTS

10.​Several suspects were arrested during the period in connection with BHT activities. Put together, 810 BHTs were arrested during the period under review. Some of the details are as follows:

a.​On 27 Mar 17, following intensified surveillance activities, 2 suspected BHTs Alhassan Jibir and Mustapha Salihu were arrested at Kalshingi and Gombe Line motor park respectively. The suspects gave information leading to the arrest of Mustapha Salihu, a high profile BHT, identified as Serial 239 on third edition of images of wanted BHTs published by the Nigerian Army. Also, on the same day, troops deployed at Gire intercepted 3 persons namely Alhaji Ali Adamu, Mohammed Dauda and Hajiya Hadiza Bello in Blue 406 Peugeot with registration number Abuja, BWR 604 GL, enroute Mubi – Kano who were conveying fake One Thousand Naira bills to the tune of Five million, Five Hundred and Four Thousand naira. All the notes were bearing a single serial number (A/16,776544).

b.​ On 3 Apr 17, troops in Monguno arrested 2 foreigners suspected to be key BHT informants. The suspects, Kolo Adam (Cameroonian) and Matta Francois (Chadian) were arrested while on espionage mission in Monguno town. The suspects disguised as scrap metal dealers when arrested but later confessed to be from Faliya village close to Sa’ada in the fringes of Chukun Gudu. The suspects are still been investigated.

c.​On 12 Apr 17, troops deployed at Gasarwa arrested one Modu Kellu conveying logistics meant for BHT. Troops found in his possession 40 motorcycle tubes, 10 clutches, 20 engine rings, 2 mobile phones, 12 wrappers, dressing mirrors and food items. The suspect confessed to be carrying items for Mallam Kori, a BHT member at Garere village. In a related development, troops deployed at Wulgo apprehended 15 BHT fighters from the Maman Nur faction of BHT who had earlier attacked troops in Chukun Gudu, Hausari, Malawaji, Saada and Abbaganaram. The suspects namely, Mohammed Sani (Maikudi), Umar Inusa, Abdulkadir Musa (Amir of Bulankasa), Angini Mustapha, Akura Abubakar, Bukar Kadi, Malam Modu, Yau Idris, Abdulraheem Abubakar, Abba Dugursi, Kaka Umar, Mallam Jugurum, Bakari Mustapha, Bakura Abba Nuina and Alhaji Abba are still being investigated.

SURRENDERED BHT ​

11.​It may interest you to note that some BHTs have willingly surrendered following our robust and aggressive patrols, as well as troops’ blockading of logistics replenishment for the insurgents. A total of 67 BHTs have so far surrendered to our troops. There are indications that there are still a good number of them out there who are willing to give up the irresponsible and criminal activities perpetrated by BHT. I call on them today to be bold and reject the hypocrisy of the Boko Haram leadership, who live in affluence while their foot soldiers die in hunger, to surrender to any military location closest to them. I assure them of protection and safety of their lives. Details of some of the surrendered BHTs during the period under review are as follows:

a.​On 15 Mar 17, four BHT suspects from the Abubakar Shekau faction escaped from Falafala village in Dikwa Local Government Area and surrendered to troops in Monguno.

b.​On 19 Apr 17, two BHTs fighters named Nata Bunu and Abdulrahman Shugaba Kori surrendered to own troops at Wulgo, while on 22 Mar 17, fourteen years old Jidda Babangida, a member of the Mamman Nur faction surrendered to troops in Monguno town after he escaped from Arina. On 18 Apr 17, one Ali Bala (a.k.a) Ali Hassan aged about 15 years old from Sabon Gari also surrendered himself to CJTF office in Biu.

c.​On 3 July 17, a group of BHT insurgents numbering about 70 surrendered to Operation LAFIYA DOLE troops deployed in the fringes of the Sambisa forest. Another group of 700 insurgents have also indicated interest to willingly surrender to own troops and this is anticipated to materialise soon.

OTHER OCCURRENCES

12.​A handful of other activities took place in the theatre during the period under review. These occurrences include:

a.​Arrest OF Fish Smugglers. You will recall that a press statement urging the public to desist from fish smuggling activities was broadcast by the Theatre Command due to our findings that most of the proceeds of such activities ended up in the hands of BHT. On 20 Apr 17, troops deployed at Cross Kauwa arrested 4 suspects, with 59 cartons of fish around troops defensive location as they stealthily traversed Doro Naira- Daban Masara axis heading towards Monguno. There were other arrests made around Munguno and environs during the period. However, efforts to assist verified and authenticated genuine fish traders is ongoing.

b.​Arrest of Drug Peddlers.​On 24 Apr 17, Mallam Ibrahim Ali aged 33 years was apprehended by own troops with substance suspected to be drugs wrapped in 28 polybags and concealed in empty sacks. Suspect has been handed over to NDLEA after preliminary investigation. Troops also arrested one suspected drug dealer with 67 parcels of substance suspected to be marijuana/cannabis.

c.​Arrest of Suspected HumanTraffickers.​On 16 Jun 17, four suspected traffickers were intercepted by troops deployed at Katarko on routine check point duty. Suspects conveying 19 children (minors) from Potiskum to Garin Tuwo, Bungai, Buni Yadi in Gujba Local government Area of Yobe State and Galarabala in Biu Local Government Area of Borno state. Suspects and victims are now in custody of pending transfer to NAPTIP.

d.​Recovery of Stolen Property.​In the course of carrying out operations, troops recovered some property carted away by BHT. On 11 Mar 17, at Atamari village along Konduga troops rescued 2 herdsmen and recovered 1000 x cows stolen by BHTs. Also, on 24 Mar 17, troops recovered 2 Toyota pickup vans snatched by BHT elements at Balanga and Kindalkura among other cases.

e.​Military Efforts to Contain BHT Logistics Resupply.​ The recent efforts by the BHT to bypass military checkpoints with their logistics is being curtailed through the introduction of special waybills to monitor movement of goods within the Theatre. The public should therefore not see this as a bottleneck but as a security measure aimed at consolidating on the blockade on BHT logistics build up.

f.​Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship 2017. The Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship took place from 27 – 31 Mar 17 at the Nigerian Army Shooting Range in Sambisa, now renamed the Late Lieutenant Colonel Abu Ali Range by the Chief of Army Staff in memory of the deceased officer.

g.​The Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference 2017. The Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference was also held in the Theatre at Maiduguri from 2 – 4 Apr 17. The Conference provided a veritable platform to take stock and evaluate as well as project on all ongoing operational and administrative activities of the Army in the First Quarter of Year 2017. During the conference, a mobile health care facility was commissioned at Gubio by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, to provide free medical care for the inhabitants of Gubio community.

13.​In concluding this press briefing, permit me to use this platform to appreciate and commend the Maritime and Air Components of Operation LAFIYA DOLE as well as other security agencies for their untiring efforts to ensure that the insurgency is brought to an end. I also wish to remind all the good people of the North East, particularly here in Borno State, that we must work hands in glove as patriotic citizens, as a people with one destiny and as a sovereign nation, to win the peace. Therefore, I urge you not to relent in your support to keep the insurgents permanently defeated and never to rear its ugly head again. Our children and wives are our jewels, we must not allow them to be used by Boko Haram for evil missions. Protect your family always. And to members of the fourth estate of the realm, we must all bear in mind that as a very vital element of national security, we must deny our common adversary, the fuel of terrorism which is ‘Publicity’. Thank you for your time.

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