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Sambisa Forest Under 24-Hour Watch – Presidency

Posted: Sep 7, 2015 at 12:05 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Rotimi Akinwumi Abuja

Against the backdrop of criticism that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has not done enough to end to terrorism in his first 100 days, as promised during the electioneering, especially with recent regular attacks on villages within the fringes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the Presidency said on Sunday that the sect had become heavily decimated.

General Muhammadu Buhari

General Muhammadu Buhari

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, restated the Federal Government’s determination to ensure that the estimated 219 girls adopted from Chibok Secondary School over 510 days ago are rescued.

Shehu said Sambissa Forest was under a 24-hour observation to forestall any movement of the girls.

“It is because of the girls,” he continued, “that the military is undertaking a systematic bombardment of the Sambisa Forest, just as there are drones, unmanned aircraft that fly around the place at night and during the day.”

The presidency said that the soldiers were being careful in the onslaught against the group while launching attacks on certain locations to ensure that the kidnapped victims of the sect, especially the Chibok girls, are not cut down as collateral damage.

He said: “To be fair to President Buhari, did he ever say he will bring back the girls on the second day of his administration?  What he has always said is that we don’t even know where the girls are and that we need to go in there and get the intelligence and situation of things and then act. Without meaning to endanger what is left of those girls, you know that the Sambisa Forest is being degraded right now.

“In the last few days, you even saw the Chief of Army Staff leading the troops and I am aware that in the last few weeks, very interesting pictures have been shown to the President on the basis of which we will say to Nigerians, don’t lose hope on the Chibok girls. I am not saying they have been found or that they have been seen. But it is not yet time for Nigerians to say we have lost them.”


Also reacting to the three-month deadline given by President Buhari for the military to end Boko Haram terrorism in the country, Shehu said: “From my conversation with these commanders, what they are saying to themselves is that they are not going to wait for three months, but do their best to beat the target given by the President.

“So, there is so much going on and I can assure you that the spirit is very high. The Army Chief was there with the soldiers for about nine days. That is leadership, because you see him leading the soldiers from the front. If the chief himself is there, who are you to drop your gun?  A lot is happening and Boko Haram has been degraded, they have lost central command and are now in splinters.

“What you have now is bits and pieces carrying out distractive actions because they don’t want to go down alone. So, they are looking for very soft targets such as churches, mosques, markets. The Air Force is clearing this place for the ground troops to move in. They are looking for bomb making structures and moving convoy of these insurgents.

“But they are being careful about certain locations with the hope not to harm these Chibok girls that are in those locations.”

Based such assurances and the resolve of the nation’s military, Shehu also said that the days of the sect members are indeed numbered, as they would be totally annihilated soon.

The Presidency’s assurance is coming days after about 30 traders were reportedly killed and several others critically injured on Friday afternoon, when a suicide bomber attacked a weekly market at Linmakara village in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno.

According to a local vigilante in the village who spoke to journalists on phone, ‘’a middle aged man pretended to push a cart and exploded it at centre of the market at noon while trading was going on.”

“We are having network problems in this part of the state; so it has become impossible for us to connect with the rest of world,” he added.

Friday’s attack came a day after members of the terrorist group killed another 30 people, wounding 145 others in a market and infirmary in northern Cameroon.

The terrorist group’s members reportedly “came in from across the hills in Nigeria,” where Boko Haram is based, and struck a crowded market in the town Kerawa, said Col. Didier Badjeck, a spokesman for Cameroon’s military.

The militants also attacked an infirmary near a Cameroonian military camp, a situation that suggests a change of tactics with more quick raids striking civilians, than battling with government troops.

“They find it hard these days, coming face-to-face with our forces. What they do now is come in from Nigeria, attack border areas, and then run back to Nigeria,” he added.


The Presidency’s optimism is coming just as the Vanguard Newspaper quoted Senator Shehu Sani who represents Kaduna Central in the National Assembly and had been deeply involved in negotiations between the sect and the Federal Government to rescue the girls, that he was certain the Chibok girls were alive.

Sani was quoted as saying: “I have the belief they are alive because if they were not, certainly, the group in their own criminality and violence, would have announced that they had killed them.

“Don’t forget they have been very honest in the past in telling the world who they have killed or not. If they are not alive, certainly, we would have known but they are actually alive and I believe it is an issue which the government needs to thrash out before we go into the final phase of ending insurgency in the North-East.”

Continuing, he recalled: “A number of things went wrong with previous efforts to broker peace between Boko Haram and the Federal Government.

“First, some of the demands made by Boko Haram were such that the government was not ready and willing to oblige.

“The group has always insisted that it is willing to agree to peace provided its members are released by the government. But the government had never been ready to do that. That has been the sticking point where all previous negotiations had always crashed.”