The recent counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency offensives launched against the outlawed Boko Haram Islamic sect is yielding fruits, as scores of wounded terrorists who escaped from various camps under the fire of security forces have been captured in the fringes of Lake Chad.
This is just as the federal government has decided to increase the air border patrol as well as intensify aerial surveillance of the states under emergency rule.
According to the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, the captured terrorists some of whom were fatally wounded are already making useful statements to interrogators of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Olukolade, in a statement yesterday, further disclosed that other terrorists were also captured by troops in locations around Dikwa, Cross Kauwa, Kukawa and Alargarmo.
In their confessions, he said, it was revealed that some of the camps have been disbanded following the directive of their clerics who declared that the operation of the sect had come to an end as the mission could no longer be sustained.
The defence spokesman added that the terrorists who are giving useful information as to the locations of their remnant forces, were full of apologies and pleas for their lives to be spared, promising to cooperate.
“They confirmed that starvation was a major problem in addition to ceaseless bombardments on the camp locations even when they kept relocating.
“They also confirmed that several members of the group have been wounded and no treatment was forthcoming. Troops have continued their assault on other locations across the states covered by the state of emergency,” he said.
Olukolade warned members of the public against visiting (for sight seeing) the dislodged camps of the insurgents in some fringe communities and forests such as Sambisa and others, because operations are still ongoing.
He advised that “the general area still remains a theatre and movement remains restricted as the environment has to be cleared for safety of citizens.”
And in order to reinforce the capacity of the joint task force in taming the rampage of the insurgents, the federal government has disclosed that several strategies have been mapped out to ensure effective air border patrol and equipment including aircraft which are being appropriately deployed in the North-eastern part of the country to checkmate the infiltration of illegal aliens and terrorists, especially foreign elements of the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
To this end, the federal government has expressed its readiness to partner Dornier Aviation Management Nigeria Limited in order to resuscitate its aerial border patrol as part of its effort to end the insurgency and gain total control of the country’s borders.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, stated this yesterday in Abuja when he received in his office, a delegation from Dornier Aviation Management, led by its Managing Director, Mr. Mark Snoxell.
Moro said the porous nature of the country’s borders especially in the North-east had frustrated government’s effort to clamp down on the terrorists perpetrating the mayhem.
He noted that the visit of the company’s management had been long overdue because air-border surveillance was a very critical component of government’s overall desire to take proper control of its borders.
He emphasised that the step became necessary to take proper control of the countryâ€™s borders especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where the security challenge was high.
He said: â€œImmediately I assume office as the minister of interior, I felt then and I still feel that air border surveillance is a very critical component of overall desire to take proper control of our borders.
“As you are equally aware especially from the Northern front our borders are very porous, and the attitude we developed is by controlling our borders via vehicular border patrol, the construction of border plaza and level of obstacles of border drivers, the deployment of high-tech hub to be able to survey borders and of course the air patrol”.
“Since my visit to your office and inspection of our facilities, we have taken some other steps to see how we can resuscitate our air border patrol, I have to set up a committee to examine our existing preparedness to undertake border patrol against the backdrop of our existing aircraft; some that are serviceable and some that are not serviceable and the report have been submitted”, he added.
The minister noted that the visit of the company’s management had rekindled the hope of the government that something could be done immediately to start the air surveillance border patrol.
Earlier, the Managing Director, Snoxell, said there were a lot of troubles in the North-east of Nigeria and if the unit was active and prepared, it would have played a bigger part in controlling the current security challenge.
He further stressed that the air-patrol unit was important but for the past 10 years it had been under-funded, adding that though it was very active in the 90s and early 2000, “we know your unit very well and it has not been delivering the way it should do”.
According to him, “We are ready to provide good services in terms of training and technical support for the government of Nigeria, we will provide you the information you need for aerial survey.”