by Musa Abdullahi
Boko Haram gunmen killed at least 43 people and burnt down three villages in Borno state residents said Thursday, the latest in an upsurge of attacks by the Islamist militants.
Dozens of the rebels on motorcycles stormed Matangale, Buraltima and Dirmanti in restive Borno state on Tuesday, opening fire on villagers and then looting and burning homes, fleeing residents said.
Meanwhile the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant Keneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah, paid an operational and morale boosting visit to troops in the frontline fighting war against Boko Haram terrorists groups in Borno and Adamawa States. During the visit, he addressed and encouraged the troops of 7 Division Strike Group (7 DSG) and 121 Special Force (SF) Battalion that comprised the Armed Forces and Nigerian Army Special Forces located in Pulka, 26 Task Force Brigade in Gwoza, 28 Task Force Brigade and 174 Battalion in Mubi.
In Pulka, the Commander, 7 DSG, Lieutenant Colonel Umar Faruq Abubakar and the Commanding Officer of 121 SF Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Murtala Danjuma Abdulsalam briefed him on their respective commands. He commended them for their performances. The COAS thereafter addressed the troops in which he said that he came to thank and commend them for their valour, courage and bravery, which turned the tide against the Boko Haram terrorists and their accomplishments thus far. The COAS informed the troops that the President and indeed the whole nation are proud of them. He reiterated his determined effort to continue to support and encourage them and enjoined them to maintain the momentum. He also urged the gallant soldiers to be more dedicated, disciplined, professional and continue with the same zeal and determination till attainment of the set objective of locating and destroying Boko Haram camps and enclaves.
The exploits of these troops are quite numerous; apart from recapturing most Boko Haram terrorist held territories such as Pulka and Gwoza, they were able to destroy quite a number of the terrorists’ camps in Kirawa and Kinene, as well as their workshops, training camps and arms stores, weapons and equipment. They also recovered a T-55 Battle Tank, 2 Armoured Personnel Carriers, various calibres of arms and ammunitions from the Boko Haram.
At the headquarters of 26 Task Force Brigade Gwoza, the COAS was received and briefed by the Brigade Commander, Colonel Irenuma Irabor who was accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Chidozie Amoha, Garrison Commander of 26 Task Force Brigade. In his brief, the Brigade Commander stated that due to recapture of Gwoza and the presence of the military, life has gradually been getting back to normal. He stated that his Brigade is working with Borno State government and youth vigilantes for screening of returnees and preventing infiltration of fleeing terrorists from Sambisa forest. He also said that his Brigade has embarked on measures to enhance cordial relationship with the civil populace.
The COAS thanked him for the brief and the wonderful efforts of the troops, which gave the Nigerian Army and indeed the nation victory over Boko Haram terrorists. In his address to the troops of Brigade Garrison, elements of 82 Battalion, 121 Special Force Battalion and 122 Special Battalion, he also informed them that he was very proud of them for changing the tide of the battle against the terrorists adding that Nigerians are proud of them as attested to by the renewed positive attitude and accolades being showered on the military.
It will be recalled that it was in Gwoza the purported Boko Haram terrorists leader, Abubakar Shekau shot a video in flowing gown conducting special Friday prayers proclaiming the town the headquarters of his phantom ‘Caliphate’.
While in Mubi, the COAS was received by the Commander 28 Task Force Brigade, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu and the Commanding Officer, 174 Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel MA Sadiq who briefed him respectively. In his address to the troops, he told them that he was in Mubi to inform them that the Nigerian Army is proud of them for their unprecedented accomplishment that also turned the public opinion and perception of the military among Nigerians after humiliation by the terrorists. He also stated that the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria being a retired senior Army officer, was embarrassed by the cowardice behaviour of some soldiers, but today, he is pleased with them. Adding that what they accomplished in recent weeks had brought international recognition and rekindled national pride.
The Chief of Army Staff was accompanied on the visit by Corps Commander of Nigerian Army Engineers, Major General SJ Davies, Provost Marshal Army, Major General PAT Akem, Director Military Intelligence, Major General LW Wiwa, General Officers Commanding 3 and 7 Divisions, Major General FO Ali and Major General LO Adeosun, the Coordinator of Nigerian Army Aviation Service, Major General LEO Irabor, Chief of Staff, Office of Chief of Army Staff, Brigadier General SE Oduonwa and the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel SK Usman.