Gentlemen of the press, welcome to year 2017 maiden press briefing. It is our first interaction to review our last year training and operational activities which led to the final fall of Boko Haram terrorists headquarters in “Camp Zairo” and subsequent Presidential commendation on achieving that noble feat. It will also enable us to project our plans for year 2017 with a view to defend the territorial integrity of our beloved country Nigeria.
The Nigerian Army last year conducted many training activities at all levels, this is in addition to other training exercises conducted by the various Nigerian Army training institutions across the country. Some of the major exercises include; Exercise SHIRIN HARBI and Exercise HARBIN KUNAMA. The exercises were apart from improving troops proficiency, testing of equipment, they also sought to address the prevailing security challenges in Bauchi and Zamfara States. The exercises were tremendous success. The continuous raid operations and patrols conducted by troops have seriously reduced these activities and resulted in the arrests of a large number of cattle rustlers and recovery of arms, ammunitions and rustled cattle.
Additionally, as part of deliberate efforts to clear the region of the menace of cattle rustling and armed banditry, Exercise HARBIN KUNAMA conducted at Dansadau Forest, Zamfara State as part of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2016. The exercise has further helped in reducing the menace posed by bandits and cattle rustlers in the state and its environs. About 9,865 rustled cattle were recovered and handed over to the owners through local civil authority. Many armed bandits and livestock rustlers were also arrested during the operation. It is believed that the menace of the criminal gangs and bandits in the North Central and North West zones of the country would be reduced to the barest minimum due to such field training exercises.
Furthermore, the increasing violent activities of militants, pirates and militia groups across the Niger Delta Region coupled with the agitation from secessionist groups in some parts of South East Nigeria re-emphasised the need for continuous training. Accordingly, the COAS directed the conduct of a Field Training Exercise in the Niger Delta Region. The exercise nicknamed “Exercise CROCODILE SMILE” was conducted from 5 – 10 September 2016. The main objective of Exercise CROCODILE SMILE was to sharpen the skills of Nigerian Army personnel to be proficient in Internal Security duties in riverine operations. The NA also conducted Exercise PYTHON DANCE in the South East Region from 28 November – 27 December 2016 to further enhance the capacity of NA troops deployed in the region to cope with contemporary security challenges within the region.
In the North east, the remnants of Boko Haram Terrorists were pushed into Sambisa forest during Operation CRACK DOWN which was conducted from 26 April to 17 May 2016. Those terrorist holed up in Sambisa forest were further defeated during the Operation RESCUE FINALE which penetrated deep into Sambisa forest and dislodged the terrorists from their Headquarters in Parisu and “Camp Zairo”.
The fall of Boko Harram terrorists Camp Zairo in Sambisa forest to our gallant troops have continued to attract commendation for the NA worldwide. We are going to consolidate on these gains, therefore Nigerian Army will not rest on its oars in 2017. We will continue to accord high priority to training, regimentation and welfare of the troops. The COAS have directed that next Nigerian Army Small Arms Competition (NASAC) 2017 would be conducted at Sambisa forest. Already, effort are on by the NA Engineers to open more routes and construct bridges into the once Boko Haram haven to facilitate easy access to the forest.
The attention of Nigerian Army is drawn to the activities of some unscrupulous and unpatriotic elements who extort money from unsuspecting prospective applicants for recruitment into the Nigerian Army. Members of the general public are reminded that Nigerian Army recruitment is free of charge. Therefore, interested applicants and parents should be wary of any person or group of persons that demand for any form of payment or gratification to facilitate their recruitment.
Additionally, the public are advised to use only the Nigerian Army approved portal for their application, which is www.narecruitment.org. You are also enjoined to call the help numbers 08038575725 and 08061541440 for enquiries. This is to avoid any form of exploitation in the recruitment process.
Gentlemen of the press, let me use this opportunity to commend the support of the media in 2016. I urge you to be professional in your task, objective and unbiased in your reportage. Remember that national security is a collective responsibility of every Nigerian. To the general public, we thank you for your continued support. You have defied terrorists’ propaganda and supported your troops; we will never let you down. We must ensure united, peaceful and prosperous nation which will be a source of pride to all.