Army releases 128 B’Haram suspects to Shettima
• Arrests 16 in Yobe • ‘Terrorists not in control of any territory’
THE Nigerian Army yesterday released 128 Boko Haram suspects to Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State for reintegration into the society, after the “security intelligence cells” have absolved them of involvement in any terror activity in the North east zone.
According to military authorities in Maiduguri, the “security intelligence cells” that cleared the suspects comprised the military, police, Immigration, Customs and a representative of the Borno State government.
Presenting the released suspects at the Maimalari Cantonment Parade Ground, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the Nigerian Army regarded the released suspects as free from any accusation on Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.
His words: “I’m pleased to publicly notify all of you here today (yesterday) that one of the roles of the Nigerian Army in humanitarian activities is to exonerate any suspect that has not been involved in terrorists’ activities. And this has been meticulously carried out by our security intelligence cells, comprising various security agencies and a representative of Borno State government.”
According to Gen. Buratai, the released suspects were arrested during joint military operations. He said out of the released suspects, 109 are men, seven women and 11 children, including three Chadians and a Cameroun national. He noted that the Nigerian Army has maintained the dignity of individuals and the defence of the nation’s territorial integrity against any foreign aggression.
“The Operation Lafiya Dole is to defeat the insurgents, facilitate observance of human rights, and to restore the functions of all the liberated towns and villages in the Northeast sub-region of our country, Nigeria,” Buratai said.
Yesterday’s release of the suspects by the military brought to 310 the number of those arrested who have regained their freedom, as 182 were also released to Governor Shettima on July 6, 2015.
Responding, Shettima thanked the Nigerian Army for releasing another batch of cleared Boko Haram suspects for reintegration into the society. He said the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) will be in Maiduguri for the integration of the released suspects into the society.
Also yesterday, the 27 Military Task Force Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Yobe State announced arrest of 16 Boko Haram suspects and informants, after attacking two communities recently on the outskirts of Damaturu, killing two villagers.
Parading the suspects at the Damaturu military base yesterday, the Acting Commander of the task force, Col. Dahiru Bako, said the suspects were arrested from different locations across the state.
“Some of these Boko Haram suspects were arrested shortly after we carried out an operation on the outskirts of Damaturu, the state capital. Those arrested include informants of the insurgents.
Their collaborators were involved in supply of logistics such as foodstuff, fuel, cigarettes, among other intoxicants,” Bako said.
According to him, items recovered from the suspects and their collaborators include 16 jerry cans of 25-litre of petrol, eight cans of cooking oil and two bags of cannabis, among large quantities of assorted drugs used in terrorists’ activities. Others items recovered are 10 bags of rice, two bags of sugar, 12 bags of millet and six bags of potash, as well as 12 bags of fertilizers believed to be used in the production of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).
Meanwhile, the military has dismissed the claim in some quarters that the Boko Haram terrorists are still in control of some towns in the northeast, saying the insurgents lack the coordination and capacity to hold fort.
The Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col. Rabe Abubakar, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at his maiden media interactive session, said the insurgents have been incapacitated by the ongoing military onslaught to the extent that the terrorists are now disoriented.
The military had earlier this year told Nigerians that all territories captured by the insurgents were completely recovered, but last week, the Defence information unit, through the media, announced that Gamboru Ngala in Borno State was retaken from the terrorists, precipitating questions as to whether other towns were retaken or some territories are still being controlled by the insurgents.
Col. Abubakar said: “On the issue of whether they are in control or not of a town, people should know that Boko Haram is no longer strong enough to hold any town, because of what we are doing.
“We have a formidable force both on ground and in the air, we are making sure that the terrorists are not in control, not only in Gamburu-ngala but everywhere. They will never recapture any town taken by the Nigerian military, with the level of intelligence, the morale among the troops, equipment acquired, our soldiers are ready to face anybody,” he said.
Abubakar said the frequent operational visits to the war theatre by the current leadership of the military is a demonstration of loyalty and commitment to the deadline given by the President, noting that the frequent visits have boosted the morale of troops, coupled with the sophisticated weapons, and has brought in a new motivation to end the war.