Boko Haram WAS a true terror – killed and maimed tens of thousands of Nigerians(some of which were recorded), quickly overtaking ISIS with exploits that ISIS envied. Boko Haram at its peak declared a Boko Haram state in North-east Nigeria, bombed UN and Police Headquarters in Nigeria, abducted Chibok girls and thousands of children and women, following their running over several major administrative districts that included major towns and villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. The final chapter of Boko Haram started on Saturday 24th of December, 2016 with the capture of the last known stronghold of the group in Sambisa forest.
The Final Fall
No fewer than 4,200 officers of the Nigerian Army, Air Force and other special forces took part in the operation to uproot the Boko Haram terrorists from their Sambisa Forest, a 60,000square-kilometre forest equivalent to the combined size of several states and more than 15 times larger than Lagos state alone.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday broke the news of the capture of Boko Haram’s last stronghold in a goodwill message to soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole over the victory.
Buhari said he had received the long-awaited and most gratifying news of the final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest.
The president said he was delighted at the news and was most proud of the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army.
“I want to use this opportunity to commend the determination, courage and resilience of troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at ‘Camp Zero’, which is located deep in the heart of Sambisa Forest.
“I was told by the Chief of Army Staff that the camp fell at 1:35 pm on Thursday, December 22 and that the terrorists were on the run and no longer have a place to hide,” the president disclosed.
According to Nigerian Military, prior to the build-up to the operation to storm Sambisa, the United States donated five mine detecting armoured vehicles to the Nigerian Armed Forces, which enabled the military to clear “thousands of improvised explosive devices” that laced the vast Sambisa Forest.
Other powers like Germany also contributed “vital information and logistics” that led to the capture of the forest, sources said.
Operation Camp Zero
“The operation to take over Sambisa Forest did not start overnight,” one of the sources said.
Among other places, the Sambisa Forest had been used as a fortress by the leader of the Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau and members of the Shura (Supreme Council) since 2003, after they were dislodged from Maiduguri and environs, shortly after the declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
The source, a sniper, who returned to Maiduguri from the fringes of the liberated forest on Friday, said while hundreds of Boko Haram fighters were killed during the offensive that began about a month ago, many others were captured alive while attempting to flee.
He said: “A ‘white man’ was also arrested in the forest. “The man is under custody and providing positive information.
“Hundreds of Boko Haram captives, including men, women and children have been freed and taken to safety.
“All I can tell you is that no big Boko Haram commander is alive in the Sambisa; we are in control of the forest.
“It took months of planning and mapping because of the size, difficult weather and other factors in the Sambisa Forest.”
The source said that one of the major factors that delayed the takeover of the insurgents’ hideout was the thousands of people, including those living in villages around the vast forest that were being held as a human shield by the Boko Haram leaders.
It was gathered that the 4,200 troops were deployed to the Sambisa Forest through various fronts, including Ngurosoye, Konduga/Aulari, Bama, Fulka and Damboa.
“The 151 Battalion of the Nigerian Army advanced into Sambisa through the Banki-Darul Jamal axis, the 27 Battalion advanced through Mafa, the 152 Battalion advanced through Pulka, while the 222 Battalion approached the dreaded forest through the Maiduguri axis,” another soldier, who participated in the operation, said.
He said the operation was carried out day and night.
“When mine detectors cleared the way, troops moved in to confront the insurgents, who were equally well armed with sophisticated fighting equipment.
“Luckily, we always had an edge over them at night because there were fighter jets with night vision devices that were deployed. And whenever the insurgents attempted to flee, there were booby-traps in all the exit points, and we caught or killed them like chickens,” he said.
The political class, the military high command and the Nigerian soldiers celebrated the capture of the infamous ‘Camp Zero’ at the heart of the Sambisa forest.
The Fall of Boko Haram Final Fortress
A source said though the ‘Camp Zero’ comprised a cluster of dreaded camps and cells, the strongest and most fortified of all of them was a huge structure with underground cells and armoury built for the disbanded National Guards in the 1980s.
“The building has about two layers of underground buildings. It was actually built by the military government in the 1980s for the training of the National Guards. Unfortunately, the place was left like that after the National Guards were disbanded.
“Therefore, after they were forced out of Maiduguri, the Boko Haram found the place as an excellent fortress because everything was there, including water, tunnels for escape and fertile land for farming,” a soldier familiar with the terrain, said.
The National Guard was established by a decree in 1989 by a former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, to combat crime and terrorism.
The Sambisa Forest stretches across six states in the North-East and North-West parts of Nigeria, including Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa and some parts of Kano state.
It got its name from the village of Sambisa in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State, which shares borders with the Republic of Cameroon.
President Buhari’s Congratulatory Message To The Troop
In his message, President Buhari urged the troops to maintain the tempo by pursuing the terrorists and bringing them to justice.
He also called on all Nigerians to cooperate and support the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies by providing useful information that would expose all the terrorists hiding among the populace.
The president said further efforts should be intensified to locate and free the remaining Chibok schoolgirls still in captivity, praying: “May God be with them.”
He congratulated and commended “the able leadership of the Nigerian Army in particular, and indeed, that of the Armed Forces in general, for making this possible.”
Buhari added: “This, no doubt, will go a long way in improving the security situation, not only in the North-East but the country in general. But we must not let our guards down.
“Once more, congratulations to our troops and all, who, in one way or another, contributed to this most commendable and momentous effort. May the Almighty continue to be with you.
The Rise of Boko Haram
Gone are the days when Abubakar Shekau’s massacre videos made our days into nights. We have compiled documentaries on the rise, fall and demise of the Boko Haram group, more important is the courageousness of our troops and Civilian JTF who stood between the peace we enjoy now and the hell of the past. While we pray the safe return of the abducted children, girls, women and Chibok girls in the Northeast, our prayers will always be with families who lost loved ones in the North-east crises.
Vice News Video
Fisayo Ogunfuyi: Report from Konduga
Rogo at Large: Report from Mubi
Aerial Bombardment: Military Footage
Nigerian Airforce Hitting Boko Haram Ground Targets
Destruction of Boko Haram Camps in Sambisa Forest
Boko Haram referred to by themselves as Wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyyah (Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP), and Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad “Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad” is an Islamic terrorist group based in northeastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. Boko Haram has also been translated as “Western influence is a sin” and “Westernization is sacrilege”. The group’s leader is Abubakar Shekau. The group had alleged links to al-Qaeda, but in March 2015, it announced its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Since the current insurgency started in 2009, it has killed 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015.
After its founding in 2002, Boko Haram’s increasing radicalization led to a violent uprising in July 2009 in which its leader was summarily executed. Its unexpected resurgence, following a mass prison break in September 2010, was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated attacks, initially against soft targets, and progressing in 2011 to include suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja.
In April 2014 Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. Shekau announced his intention of selling them into slavery. More than 50 escaped. The incident brought Boko Haram extended global media attention. In mid-2014, the militants gained control of swathes of territory in and around their home state of Borno, estimated at 50,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi) in January 2015, but did not capture the state capital, Maiduguri, where the group was originally based.
Starting in late January 2015, a coalition of military forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger began a comprehensive campaign against Boko Haram. And with the arrival of new military hardware from East-Europe including the T-72 tanks, Helicopter gunships(Mi-171Sh, Mi-35 Terminator Assault Helicopters), Nigerian Military was able to effectively change the narrative in the battle against Boko Haram. On 7 March 2015, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIL via an audio message posted on the organisation’s Twitter account. Nigerian army spokesperson Sami Usman Kukasheka said the pledge was a sign of weakness and that Shekau was like a “drowning man”. On 12 March 2015, ISIL’s spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani released an audiotape in which he welcomed the pledge of allegiance, and described it as an expansion of the group’s caliphate to West Africa.
By March 2015, Boko Haram tally of lost Nigerian towns included Mubi, Bama and Gwoza to the Nigerian army. The Nigerian Security authorities said that they had taken back 11 of the 14 districts previously controlled by Boko Haram. In April, four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest were overrun by the Nigerian military who freed nearly 300 females. Boko Haram forces were believed to have retreated to the Sambisa Forest and the Mandara Mountains, along with the Nigeria-Cameroon border, where they have been facing a continuous onslaught from the Nigerian Military. The rebuilding of several reclaimed towns from Boko Haram sect started in 2015 with Assistance from EU, World Bank and the United States. Estimates of total infrastructure cost for the North-east is around $2.1 billion.