Army: We’ve Degraded Boko Haram To Band Of Thieves | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Army: We’ve Degraded Boko Haram To Band Of Thieves

Posted: Jul 16, 2015 at 7:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Hassan Zaggi, Abuja

Outgoing Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Kenneth Minimah, has said that during his tenure the Nigerian Army was able to frustrate the efforts of Boko Haram and reduce the terror group to a band of thieves and criminals.

He added that the strength of Boko Haram was at its lowest ebb and the group would soon be defeated.

Minimah stated this while handing over the mantle of leadership of the Nigerian Army to the new Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Tukur Buratai, in Abuja, Thursday.

The new COAS promised that he would sustain and maintain the standard of discipline already restored in the Army by his successor.

Minimah said, “During my tenure, we were able to reclaim all territories earlier lost to the terrorists, sufficiently degrade their potency and reduced them to a band of criminals and petty thieves and we were also able to stabilise the situation in the North-Central zone.

“This success did not come cheap; it came through the sweat and blood of all of us, and in the face of unusual events we had to take unusual actions. Some may adjudge us as being too strict, especially in dealing with cases of cowardice and indiscipline in the field, but we had to do what we must to arrest the drift towards chaos that the Army was heading.

“I am happy that the result in the field today justifies our actions, as today, I am leaving behind an Army that can hold its own against any adversary without batting an eyelid, an Army that has vowed ‘Never again’ to concede any inch of Nigeria to terrorists, and it is a legacy I am leaving behind, and I implore you to sustain it.”

Minimah, however, regretted that during the push to flush out Boko Haram insurgents, barracks were sacked at random, weapons and ammunition were carted away and vulnerable civilians were killed by the terrorists.

He noted that at a point during the fight, the morale of the troops was at its lowest ebb, as “soldiers regularly fled the battlefield on the slightest indication of an approaching adversary.”

“The situation was no less grim in the North-Central and northwestern regions, where armed bandits, cattle rustlers and ethnic militia held sway,” he said.

These, according to him, were some of the obstacles the Army had to surmount under difficult circumstances to deal with the menace of terrorism and criminality across the country.

The outgoing COAS applauded Nigerians who, he stressed, “stood up at very critical times to support their Army and military, particularly during the difficult days when the terrorists appeared to be gaining the upper hand over our military.”

“I wish to, in a very special way, thank our gallant troops who are on the frontlines, day and night, and under all conditions to ensure that no harm came our way and they are the reason Nigeria is still on its feet today as their courage, perseverance and sacrifice have inspired us in no small way.

“I remain indebted to their selfless service, nationalism and great sense of duty and patriotism,” he said.

Minimah expressed joy that he was handing over to Buratai, whom he described as “a seasoned infantry general” whom he had worked closely with in the recent past.

“I am confident that he will take the Nigerian Army to greater heights, and I urge you to extend the same or even greater measure of support to him for a better future for our Army,” he said.

In his response,  Buratai vowed to sustain the discipline that his predecessor had restored in the Nigerian Army, and to also to build on the legacies he inherited.

Buratai, the 20th COAS, disclosed that his posting to command the Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the Lake Chad Basin Commission exposed and prepared him for his current position.

He said that the task force, which was billed to take off fully at the end of the month, has an established office, appropriately staffed and all other necessary operational details are being coordinated for full takeoff, before his appointment as COAS.

“I have already issued out my operational directive to all the sector commanders. We are waiting for the 30th of this month for all the national contingents to come under operational command of the MNJTF.

“The posting to the Multi-national Joint Task Force is the posting that really brought me out. And I must appreciate you, sir (Minimah), for recognising me to hold that international assignment,” Buratai said.