Text of Live Press Briefing of Operation Lafiya Dole By Maj. Gen. Irabor
I am delighted to be with you again this afternoon to acquaint you with developments within the Theatre of operation. The troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE have continued with the ongoing operations to clear the remnants of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). Since our last interaction, our troops have conducted many operations with immense successes. Within the period, there were some command changes. Let me use this opportunity to introduce some of our Commanders who assumed duty recently. As you know, in Operation LAFIYA DOLE, we have a value-addition command philosophy. The pedigree of these officers speaks to their readiness to key into the philosophy for greater effectiveness.
Furthermore, the Theatre has witnessed visits by several personalities to further support the peace efforts already being enjoyed today. Therefore, this brief will touch on some of the activities and operations as follows:
Visit of the Chief of Defence Staff. The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, visited the Theatre of operation between 20 – 21 Nov 16. During the visit, the CDS among other things inspected some modified military vehicles that would be inducted into our operations. The CDS also launched the posters of Batch 3 Wanted BHT Suspects and thereafter presented it to all heads of other security agencies in BORNO State.
Visit of the Chief of Army Staff. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, had a working 2-week visit to the Theatre of operation between 8 – 21 Nov 16. The COAS later visited soldiers and officers that were wounded in action and now hospitalized at the 7 Division Hospital and University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital on 14 and 15 Nov 16 respectively. On 16 Nov 16, the COAS received and inspected 3 types of 4-wheel drive vehicles that were manufactured locally in Nigeria and donated by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company. The vehicles were to be tested for use in the counterinsurgency operations here in the Theatre. Furthermore, COAS also inspected some modified military vehicles in the theater’s Main Repair Group, including some other equipment that has been repaired for future operations.
Visit by Team from Africa Centre of Atlantic Council and Nigerian Guild of Editors/Publishers. The COAS visit coincided with those of a team from Africa Centre of Atlantic Council USA and a delegation of Nigerian Guild of Editors/Publishers on 8 – 9 Nov 16. The Nigerian Army Resource Centre sponsored the visits. The visitors were taken on a tour of parts of the Theatre in addition to a very useful exchange of ideas on the fight against terrorism.
Visit of SRSG. On 16 Nov 16, the COAS received the Special Representative of United Nations Secretary General Mohamed Ibn Chambas at the Headquarters Theatre Command. During the visit, the COAS and the NA were commended for keeping to Global best practices in the conduct of operations. A lot of issues were discussed including the need for improved humanitarian assistance for the Internally Displaced Persons in North East.
Operation KARYA GWIWA. On 28 Oct 16 at about 0935hrs, own troops commenced clearing operations on 2 axes to clear and destroy insurgents along GOLGORE, DOKSA, AJIGIN and environs. By 1800hrs, own troops had cleared DOKSA 1, 2 and 3. On 29 Oct 16 at about 0700hrs, own troops continued their advance and later came under BHT ambush at UGUNDIRI where 5 soldiers sustained gunshot wounds. Two anti-air guns were recovered from the BHT and a gun truck was destroyed. Later, on 1 Nov 16 at about 1354hrs, own troops in conjunction with members of vigilantes conducted a fighting patrol to BULABILI AJIGIN village around DOKSA – AJIGIN general area. The troops located a BHT camp and on sighting the team, the BHT fled the camp abandoning 7 motorcycles, 5 bicycles, a desert camouflage and a large quantity of drugs. All items were destroyed in situ. During the operations, a total of 37 BHT were killed while 2 officers and 5 soldiers of own troops were wounded in action. Unfortunately, a member of the vigilante died during the offensive operation.
Clearing Operations. Clearing operations were conducted as follows:
On 28 Oct 16 at about 0900hrs, own troops conducted clearing operations to GONGON and GONGON KOLORI. During the operations, troops came in contact with BHT and the terrorists fled their camp. Several huts, 3 motorcycles, foodstuffs, a bicycle and a Mikano generating set were burnt in situ. Own EOD team also detonated two IEDs. Again, a solar panel and an unserviceable Steyr Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) were also discovered.
On 29 Oct 16 at about 0642hrs, the operation continued to ALAGARNO 1, MARKAS and GUJERI. During the operation, several BHT huts, 7 Datsun pickup, 16 motorcycles, 21 bicycles, 8 solar panels, 4 generating sets, 3 Volkswagen cars, 3 unserviceable Nigerian Army Toyota Hilux vehicles that were carted away by BHT in 2015 were discovered in one of the camps. All equipment and items found were thereafter destroyed in situ.
On 30 Oct 16 at about 1301hrs, own troops in conjunction with some vigilante conducted fighting patrol to NJUBULLA village and they came in contact with BHT at about 1415hrs. The items recovered include 10 Dane guns, 2 APC rims, a locally made pistol, a gun barrel, 4 locally made swords, 2 machetes, a camp gas cooker, 22 arrows, a solar panel, 9 motorcycles, 3 grinding machines and a large mechanic workshop were all destroyed in situ.
BHT Attack of Mallam Fatori. Own troops deployed in Mallam Fatori, in the forward location along the Nigeria – Niger on 4 Nov 16 at about 2100hrs came under BHT attack. The insurgents who had been earlier dislodged by the troops regrouped to reclaim the location but were ruthlessly repelled after a fierce battle that lasted for about 2 hours. In the fierce battle, the troops killed 14 insurgents and captured one General Purpose Machine gun, one PKM, 7 AK47 rifles, 57 rounds of 7.62 mm, one hand grenade, 2 Nokia phones and chemical substances for making Improvised Explosive Device. Sadly, however, an Officer Lt Col M Abu-Ali and 6 soldiers lost their lives in the combat while 4 other soldiers’ sustained injuries (one, unfortunately, died later). The rest of the wounded are responding to treatment in the own medical facility.
BHT Attack on Kangarwa. Own troops deployed in Kangarwa came under Boko Haram attack on 6 Nov 16 at about 1640 hours. The attack, which lasted for about 4 hours, was successfully repelled and the insurgents were decisively dealt with. In the fierce encounter, the troops killed 13 insurgents, captured I Hilux vehicle while 2 other Hilux vehicles were destroyed. Additionally, the troops captured one Browning Machine Gun, one Anti-Aircraft Gun, 2 General Purpose Machine Guns, one Light Machine Gun, 2 Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, 4 x AK 47 Rifles, 5 Bombs for Rocket Propelled Grenade and 550 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition. Sadly, we lost one soldier and 4 others were injured. The injured soldiers are responding to treatment in own hospital.
Operation RESCUE FINALE. Operation RESCUE FINALE commenced on 2 Nov 16. It is the continuation of Operation CRACK DOWN and is aimed at rescuing all the CHIBOK School Girls and other hostages held in SAMBISA Forest. Preliminary bombardment of selected targets by own Artillery and Air Component is in progress. The subsidiary operations allied to Operation RESCUE FINALE, are ongoing and would be touched subsequently.
On 5 Nov 16 at about 1000hrs own troops conducted a decisive clearing operation into the BHT strategic hub town of CHUKUNGUDU on the southern fringes of the LAKE CHAD region. The troops successfully cleared and liberated GERAM, BULANKASSA and the BHT stronghold of CHUKUNGUDU. The troops rescued 85 people held hostage by insurgents and killed 5 BHT fighters in an encounter that saw several BHT running into the LAKE CHAD water. Also, an IED making factory was discovered and destroyed at GERAM. In the factory, several already prepared suicide bombers vest were recovered by the EOD team. Two BHT vehicles were destroyed while one was captured. Also, several newly acquired motorcycles were destroyed. A well-equipped BHT workshop for vehicle and motorcycle repairs, as well as a spare parts warehouse, was also destroyed at CHUKUNGUDU.
As a result of the concentrated Arty and Air bombardment, on 18 Nov 16, 7 x BHT with their weapons and ammo bandoliers were captured at Yemteke while they were running away from Sambisa Forest. Also, same day at Pulka, 5 x BHT (4 males and 1 female) were intercepted while escaping from Ngoshe.
On the 19 Nov 16, a ground clearance operation was conducted to Ngoshe and Gara to exploit gains of the Arty and Air bombardment. On sighting own troops approaching, the BHT fled. In the operation, am IED manufacturing factory was discovered and destroyed. Several of the equipment belonging to the BHT were equally recovered as shown. A total of 63 hostages comprising 40 Adult females, 20 x children and 3 Adult males were rescued. The rescued persons are presently in IDP Camp undergoing screening.
Yale Operation. On 19 Nov 16, own troops from 21 Bde carried out clearance operations to destroy Boko Haram economic hub at Yale market. The troops in conjunction with civilian JTF killed 11 Boko Haram insurgents and captured 2 x AK 47 rifles, 785 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 9 x AK 49 Magazines, 6 x Bandolier, one Binocular, 7 x Handsets, one Camera, 3 x Bundles of IED strip wires. The troops also successfully destroyed 11 Motorcycles, 400 Bicycles, Grains, and Condiments. Troops successfully cleared an ambush laid for them by Boko Haram on their way back to their locations.
The arrest of a BHT Suspect. On 30 Oct 16 at about 1320hrs, own troops at PULKA arrested one BHT suspect named Kadiri Umate aged 35 yrs from JIMINI village. The suspect in the company of other BHT suspects was intercepted at FIRGI BHT crossing point while crossing from ZAWAN village towards SAMBISA axis. Troops pursued the insurgents but were able to apprehend the aforementioned suspect while others fled into the bush. Items recovered include 35 packs of 500ml Glucose Intravenous Infusion (drip), assorted painkiller drugs, clothes, slippers, insecticide, salt, kola nuts and a bicycle. The suspect has been undergoing interrogation.
The arrest of BHT Food Supplier. On 4 Nov 16 at about 1300hrs, own troops at BENISHEIK arrested a suspected BHT food supplier, one Abdullahi Abur at BENISHEIK market in KAGA LGA of BORNO State. The arrest was made possible based on intelligence gathered from a BHT suspect earlier arrested at SASSAWA village in DAMATURU LGA of YOBE State. The suspect, Abdullahi Abur was alleged to be responsible for purchasing logistics from BENISHEIK and covertly delivering it to BHT in TALALA and AJIGIN general areas of DAMBOA LGA of BORNO State. The Suspect is in custody undergoing further investigation.
The arrest of Suspected Weapons. On 13 Nov 16 at about 2130hrs, own troops at FOB POTISKUM arrested a trailer truck with registration number YOBE (XA 960 NGU) along POTISKUM – AZARE road en route KANO based on information from DSS. The truck was arrested with 22 sharpened new cutlasses, a knife, 7 catapults, 5 military belts, 41 iron rollers, 9 sharpened iron rods, 6 hollow irons, a first aid box, 2 tents and various black and red flags of IMN sect. The driver and 2 other persons were arrested with the truck. The suspects and items have been handed over to the NP for further action.
Ambush by Troops. On 20 Nov 16 at about 1810hrs own troops at KASASEWA village intercepted 2 BHT on a motorcycle. The troops immediately engaged and neutralized the BHT. The troops later recovered 2 FN rifles a motorcycle, 2 FN magazine and 18 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 3 pages of a medical shopping list, tablets, capsules, syrups and intravenous fluid were found in the pockets of the killed insurgents.
The arrest of BHT Logistics Supplier. A suspected BHT supplier was arrested with some motorcycles loaded in a pick-up vehicle. He has since been undergoing interrogation.
IED/Ambush on Own Troops. On 15 Nov 16 at about 0930hrs own troops while on patrol to MUBI encountered an IED explosion along Bitta–Pirang road and thereafter were ambushed by BHT. Troops successfully cleared the ambush after a fight and unfortunately the Commanding Officer; Lt Col BU Umar lost his life on the spot. Subsequently, Lt Muktar also died in the hospital where 8 others soldiers who are wounded in action were receiving treatment. The wounded soldiers have been responding to treatment.
Induction of Maritime Component in the Theatre. The advance party for the Maritime Component of Op LAFIYA DOLE has been inducted into the Theatre on 8 Sep 16. They will be deployed at Naval Outpost BAGA and will later operate around the fringes of Nigerian side of LAKE CHAD. However, they are now temporarily accommodated at the Federal College of Fresh Water Fishery Technology in BAGA awaiting the arrival of the main body and other logistics. Currently, they are conducting patrols in conjunction with troops of MNJTF brigade at BAGA.
Recent Suicide Bombings in Maiduguri. The impact of recent bombings in Maiduguri, though sad and unfortunate, was minimal due to the alertness of troops and other security agencies. Apart from the one wherein 2 CJTF personnel were killed and some others wounded, only the terrorists died, while one was captured alive. The captured suicide bomber is assisting in the investigation into cases of suicide bombings. The incidents are only indicative of a weakened and defeated BHT. Their ignoble adventure is destined to fail totally.
In all the operations, a total of 5,235 people were rescued from the BHT.
Meanwhile, I wish to remind the general public to be more alert and security conscious with their environment, especially when a strange face comes around. I also commiserate with all the victims of the recent suicide bombings by BHT within the Theatre. We shall continue to work to ensure the safety of lives of every citizen. Let me once again use this medium to remind the remnants of BHT that their miserable days are numbered because their future is going to be disastrous if they fail to surrender and lay down their arms. Let me, therefore; encourage them to take advantage of this window of opportunity now to surrender, as failure to do so would be hugely regretted.
On that note, let me sincerely thank the general public and other stakeholders for the immense support rendered to Op LAFIYA DOLE. We remain committed to our mandate and would not be distracted by whatever means. Thank you and God bless.
Major General Leo Irabor