by Musa Abdullahi & Agency Reporter
Chadian and Nigerien troops fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East are reportedly begging their Nigerian counterparts to take over towns recaptured from the sect.
Nigerian authorities had announced that troops had recaptured all towns occupied by members of the terrorist group in Adamawa and Yobe states, remaining Borno, the last of the three north-eastern states mostly affected by the insurgency.
A report by The New York Times on Friday, entitled ‘Foreign troops beg Nigerian soldiers to occupy recaptured towns,’ said foreign troops had led journalists on a tour of the liberated towns without Nigerian troops on the ground.
Chadian authorities were reported to be angered by “the near-total absence of cooperation from the Nigerians in a crucial regional battle.”
The report said Chadian soldiers were wondering why they, and not the Nigerians, were holding towns like Damasak, several days after the last Boko Haram fighter has fled or been killed.
The Chadian Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, was quoted as saying, “The Nigerian Army has not succeeded in facing Boko Haram. The occupation of these towns, this is up to Nigeria. My fondest wish is that they assume their responsibilities.
“Our biggest wish is that the Nigerian Army pulls itself together — that it takes responsibility in the towns. We are ready to disengage, right away.”
Second Lieutenant Hassan of the Chadian Army was quoted to have berated the Nigerian troops as failing in their responsibilities.
He said, “We asked them (Nigerian Army) to come, to receive this town from us, but they have not come. It is because they are afraid.
“We fought on the night of the 14th, and the last attack was on the 15th. We called them on the 16th and told them to come; they didn’t believe we were here.
“It is up to them (Nigeria) to hold the town, not us,” said Lieutenant Hassan, referring to the Nigerians. “Our role is offensive. Our mission is to chase the terrorists.”
The Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, however, told PUNCH Newspaper on the telephone on Saturday that it was not true that Nigerian troops were not willing to take over such territories.
He said there was no town liberated by the Nigerian troops in the ongoing offensive against the insurgents that was not effectively cleared of terrorists’ presence and was not being well patrolled.
He added that the collaborating nations had warned against “irresponsible” comments involving the operation, stressing that the military would not join issues with anyone.
Olukolade said, “It is not true that our soldiers are not willing to take over such communities. There is no town that our soldiers have liberated that is not being well secured and well patrolled at the moment.
“We have always warned against irresponsible comments in this collaboration and we are not ready to join issues with anybody.
“We will do everything to sustain this collaboration.”