Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has surprised many by tacitly admitting that three local government areas are under the control of insurgent group, Boko Haram; and called on the Army to retake them.
Nigerians have been under the impression, created by government spokesmen, that no part of its nearly 923,000 square kilometres is under the control of any group.
Zulum’s revelation came as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) announced that it was drawing the curtains on Operation Rattlesnake that has helped in no small measure to neutralise the terrorist group.
Receiving the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) at the Government House in Maiduguri, Zulum named Marte, Kukawa, and Abadam as affected LGAs under the control of Boko Haram.
“Military operation has to be followed by stabilisation mechanism and, therefore, three local government areas are really key….We shall be happy if the Nigerian military and other security operatives will develop a modus operandi of re-establishing such businesses to boost the local economy.”
Zulum expressed worry that with thousands of idle hands in camps was a ready-made recruitment materials for insurgents.
He was optimistic that with the soldiers on ground with civil authority, the insurgents could be tamed.
Magashi said he was in Borno to appraise the operations that would shape future decisions in the counter-insurgency war in the North East.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has commended the Air Task Force (ATF) Operation LAFIYA DOLE for the successes recorded during the just concluded Operation RATTLE SNAKE.
The Operation, which was launched on 10 December 2019 against terrorists’ elements in the Northeast of the Country, targeted selected locations within the Northeast in order to further degrade the remnants of the terrorists as well as deny them safe havens and freedom of action.
The CAS was represented Tuesday, 17 December 2019, at the dinner to mark the end of the Operation by the Director of Operations, Headquarters Nigerian Air Force (HQ NAF), Air Vice Marshal Idi Lubo.
The CAS stated that the 7-day intensive operation had been necessary to build on the gains of previous air interdiction operations by the ATF.
According to him, “From what I have seen, we have achieved the objectives outlined before the commencement of the operation”, he said.
While appreciating the efforts of participating aircrew and troops for the successes achieved so far, Air Marshal Abubakar challenged them not to relent, noting that the war had not ended.
He stated that the ATF would continue to conduct its usual operations throughout the Theatre to ensure that there is no resurgence of terrorists activities.
He reminded them to maintain highest levels of vigilance and combat readiness to protect the nation’s critical assets within their area of responsibility as well as guarantee the security of the citizens during the festive season.
The CAS also used the opportunity to express the profound appreciation of the NAF to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the consistent support and provision of required resources to the Service to enable it perform assigned duties effectively and efficiently.
Earlier in his welcome address, the ATF Commander, Air Commodore Precious Amadi, noted that the operation was necessary to forestall the planned attacks by the terrorists on friendly locations as well as prevent the disruption of relative peace in the area, especially during the festive season.
He said the essence of the dinner was to ease-off the pressures from the hectic operation while also serving as a morale booster to energize the troops for continued enhanced performance.
He thanked the CAS for his physical presence in Maiduguri virtually throughout the period of the operation as well as for his consistent guidance and support to the troops of the ATF.
It would be recalled that prior to Operation RATTLE SNAKE, there were other air interdiction operations including Operations GREEN SWEEP 1, 2 and 3, which were conducted to neutralize terrorists targets around the Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest general areas.
The conduct of these operations have continued to shape the battle space whilst creating the enabling environment for ground troops to operate more effectively to ensure that the insurgents are unable to regroup to carry-out their heinous activities.
The sustained air strikes being conducted by the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE under the auspices of Operation RATTLE SNAKE have yielded further results with the destruction of another Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) Camp at Ngoske in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno State.
The operation was executed on 16 December 2019 after a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft had, over a series of missions, observed a scaling up of terrorists’ activities in some compounds within the settlement.
Accordingly, the ATF detailed an enhanced force package of attack aircraft to engage the location. Overhead the target area, a significant number of terrorists were observed.
The munitions from the attack aircraft hit the designated location, wiping out a part of the cluster of buildings in the area and neutralizing several of the BHT fighters.
The NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, will sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the Northeast.