The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, has restated his unalloyed confidence in the country’s armed forces, saying the fact that they cannot summarily bring the Boko Haram insurgency to an end does not mean that they are now overwhelmed by it.
Badeh disclosed this yesterday during his visit to the scene of the Tuesday bomb blasts in Jos that killed many and caused inestimable damage to properties.
He told journalists that the insurgents are moving away from the North-east because of the pressure the military was mounting on them.
“So, the North-east is no longer a safe place for them to operate and they are moving to other softer targets. That is what is happening and we will follow them,” he stated, adding that the Boko Haram insurgents are very cowardly because they are going after softer targets.
According to him, “Coming to the market to kill people who live day-by-day as the poorest of the poor in the society, is really unfortunate. What they are trying to do is just to intimidate us. But you know that terror will not deter us from being Nigerians. We will continue to do what we are doing. We will continue to live our lives. Terror will not succeed. We will eventually overcome.”
On the possibility of having some improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden that had not yet exploded, Badeh praised the security agencies in the country, saying they are doing so much that “if we tell you the number of arrests and the number of things we thwart, you will always be scared. We have been catching these people (insurgents). You know that in a game of football, no matter how many goals the goalkeeper catches, nobody will remember. It is that lone goal that has been scored that people will not forget. That is exactly what has happened here.
“All we can say is that Nigeria has a military that is capable. Fight against insurgency is not something you win in one day. But we will eventually overcome. Some people have fought for over 40 years. They are still at it. In Nigeria, we started our own, we declared a state of emergency, just over two or a year now and we have already done so much in the North-east region that the insurgents are running from the region and finding go softer targets.
“Nigerians should be patient and everybody must contribute to give information, no matter how little. Find somebody and give him information. Call emergency number 112 on your GSM even if you don’t have call credit. Report it. Somebody will take action,” the defence chief stressed.
He instructed the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Olakpe, to discourage those who are trading near the roads, adding that the casualty figure would not have been much if there were no road side trading.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has debunked the recent allegation by a Kaduna-based Muslim cleric that the Nigerian military was involved in unrestrained killing of civilians and turning Borno State into a killing field.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, in a statement yesterday, described the allegation as untrue, disappointing and a calculated attempt to divert attention from the main goal of routing the area of Boko Haram terrorists.
Olukolade said the DHQ “found the latest allegation of genocide against the Nigerian military by the cleric as not only diversionary, but unfortunate.
“The DHQ wishes to unequivocally dissociate the Nigerian military from any involvement in the alleged genocide as depicted in the graphic pictures which appeared in the front page of Blueprint newspapers of 22 May edition entitled, ‘Alleged Killing field in Borno:.
He stated that while the military would continue to respect freedom of expression of Nigerians, it would not submit to desperate blackmail and propaganda aimed at diverting attention and pitching public opinion against the armed forces.
He said even though the real motive of the report and presentation with the apparent intention to impute military complicity in the event depicted in the pictures was yet to unfold, “the DHQ sees this allegation as the manifestation of yet another grand design to tarnish and denigrate the image of Nigerian armed forces.”
The Defence spokesman further said Nigerian military remains a professional force whose operations are guided by high standard of professional ethics and would not be party to such dastardly act.
According to Olukolade, at no time or event in the course of the counter-insurgency operation have the troops embarked on the extra-judicial killing of civilians as exhibited in the gory pictures.
He said: “The location and occasion where the events captured in the pictures were taken is unknown and has no bearing whatsoever as insinuated in the report by the Blueprint Newspaper.