The tight security restrictions imposed on Adamawa and Yobe States in the wake of the declaration of emergency rule may soon be relaxed, to allow Muslims resident in these states participate in the Islamic rites associated with the month of Ramadan.
This came as the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, yesterday said the troops of the Joint Task Force (JTF), which was deployed to enforce the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States have captured more leaders of the Boko Haram sect.
The decision to review the security situation, however, coincided with a move by the National Assembly to place defence and security budget on first line charge.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Afam Ogene, disclosed these while briefing newsmen on the outcome of a four hour closed door meeting between the House, service chiefs and heads of paramilitary agencies in the country.
The meeting had in attendance the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Immigration and Prisons.
The security team led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, was admitted into the chambers at about noon Tuesday, to brief the lawmakers on the security situation in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, where emergency was declared to combat the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Ogene said the meeting was designed to engage the security chiefs and obtain first hand information on the current situation in the emergency areas.
The spokesman of the House said the lawmakers had fruitful discussions with the security chiefs and applauded their gallantry in stemming the tide of terrorism in the country.
According to him, the security agencies operating in the region had been able to take over about 13 camps formerly occupied by the insurgents.
He, however, disclosed that the security agencies have had several challenges including the difficulty of differentiating between Nigerians and nationals of neighbouring countries in the conflict areas.
“One clear challenge was that it is quite difficult for them to distinguish between Nigerians and citizens of Niger Republic or Chad. This is because in the Republic of Niger, there are about six states or regions whose people are Kanuri-speaking. It is unlike a situation when you travel to Europe as a n African; you can be easily spotted in a crowd,” he said.
He explained that to further boost the capacity of the security agencies, the National Assembly had begun the process of amending the Constitution to place the defence budget on first line charge. According to him, this would ensure that whatever was budgeted got to the relevant security agencies.
Meanwhile, Olukolade, while receiving the nine-man Defence Headquarters Assessment Team, which returned yesterday from Yobe and Borno States, to update the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, on the situation of things in the affected states, said some notorious leaders of the sect have been captured, while some materials recovered in the camp have also provided useful intelligence for subsequent operations.
The DDI, who said the team was led by the Director of Operations in the Defence Headquarters, said the team was shown the various weapons, including rockets and locally fabricated weapon accessories, which were captured in the forest.
He stated that the assessment team also visited the troops’ location in various parts of Borno and Yobe States, including those in the notorious Sambisa forest, where they conveyed the greetings and commendation of the CDS, who was “very proud of the troops.”
Olukolade explained that other items recovered by the Special Forces, include a large number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), as well as other dangerous materials used by the sect members.
“Also, seized vehicles of different brands were shown to the team. Several vehicles destroyed by the terrorists as well as their tailoring equipment apparently used for producing fake uniforms were also shown to the team,” he added.
“Other items such as laptops, mobile communication equipment (mobile phones), used for shooting and posting online videos, locally made rockets and rocket launchers were among several items seized by the JTF from the arrested terrorists and displayed for the team to see,” he said.
Olukolade, however noted that the Commanding Officer said that despite the huge success, the unit also incurred some casualty in men and equipment.
According to him, the troops are currently engaged in night and day patrols of the area to dominate the forest and apprehend any terrorist who may be lurking around.
However, Ibrahim has vowed that the troops of the JTF would not relent in its offensive until the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents were routed out with peace and stability restored.
The CDS assured that the force was conducting operations, which was aimed at stopping terrorism in order for normalcy to return to the country.
“I am satisfied with the high level of successes so far recorded in the operation and thanked them for a job well-done, and urge you not to rest on your oars until the entire region was fully sanitised and cleared of all terrorist activities,” he said.