The Nigeria military has destroyed the last stronghold of Boko Haram in Gwoza, Borno State, on Friday, March 27
| By Olu Ojewale | Apr. 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
PROMISE kept. Those two words aptly summarise the situation in the war-torn Borno State, which is apparently in consonance with President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise. On Friday, March 27, the last stronghold of Boko Haram insurgents in Gwoza, was recaptured by the Nigerian military which announced that troops had retaken the town from the Boko Haram terrorists group, which declared the place a caliphate city in August last year.
Announcing the victory, a Nigerian Defence Headquarters tweet said: “Troops this morning captured Gwoza destroying the headquarters of the terrorists’ self-styled caliphate.” In effect, the military claimed that it had driven away the insurgents from all three North-Eastern states ravaged by the group.
Chris Olukolade, a major-general, Nigerian Defence Headquarters spokesman, later in a statement, disclosed how the military accomplished its task. The statement said in part: “Just this morning, the gallant troops of the Nigerian military in a concerted and well-coordinated land and air operations have liberated Gwoza, the headquarters of their so called caliphate which they renamed ‘darul hikima’.
“This was preceded by successive sack of terrorists from towns and villages leading to Gwoza, the main objective. Several of the terrorists have died and many of them captured in the process. A lot of arms and ammunition have been recovered and the administrative headquarters completely destroyed. A massive cordon and search has commenced to locate any of the fleeing terrorists or hostages in their custody.
He said further that “As at yesterday, the military has been able to take over virtually all the enclaves and hideouts where the terrorists were marauding. It is observed that some of the terrorists are currently fleeing towards border areas. The fleeing terrorists will expectedly run into subsequent encounter with contingents of partners in the Multinational Joint Task Force who have been mandated to contain them accordingly. The mop up operation in Gwoza and other liberated areas will continue in order to ensure that no vestiges of terrorists or terrorism remain in our country.
He assured that the military was also working assiduously to continue to restore law and order in the region. The Nigerian military and security agencies used the occasion to thank Nigerians and sub-region partners in the fight against the insurgents and assured that the military was more than ever before determined to once and for all stamp out every trace of terrorism and insecurity in the country. “All citizens are urged to remain vigilant and report every movement or assemblage of suspicious characters to the security forces so that “NEVER AGAIN” shall the evil elements re-group to terrorise or cause mayhem in our country,” the statement said.
There was no mention of the Sambisa forest, where the Islamic extremist group is believed to have several camps. Warplanes have been bombing the area for weeks. The forest starts about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Gwoza town, 130 kilometres (80 miles) South-East of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
It should be recalled that President Jonathan on Wednesday, March 26, in Abuja, assured that Gwoza would be liberated by Friday to pave way successful conduct of general elections in all states of the federation.
Jonathan, who gave the assurance when he received four international election monitoring groups in Aso Rock, said already the Nigeria soldiers had successfully liberated Adamawa and Yobe from the menace of insurgency. He said not only Gwoza would be retaken, but Sambisa forest in Borno State would also be liberated from Boko Haram in the next few weeks. He said already soldiers had intensified efforts to drive away the terrorists from the forest.
“If we take over Gwoza it will not take us more than one week to clean up the whole remaining part. For now, they are not in the position to come out and disrupt elections. We are very hopeful that when we conduct elections on March 28, elections will be conducted across the country,’’ the president said.
The president’s optimism seemed to have been reinforced by the Defence Heaquarters’s statement that the military had been pursuing “a final onslaught” that would dislodge the insurgents from towns and communities in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states. Olukolade made the disclosure while speaking at a news conference on Friday, March 20, that “Not even the strategy of mining over 1500 spots with land mines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops.”
Indeed, analysts and diplomats said there had been a lot of serious military activities in Borno State in recent times that dislodging Boko Haram insurgents from there was only a matter of time but terrorists would still be able to perform hit and run attacks and suicide bombings.
With the fall of Gwoza, Nigerians have expressed optimism that the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram insurgents would be liberated soon from Sambisa forest.