Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said on Thursday that 80 members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, had surrendered to the troops of the Nigerian Army in Borno State.
Those who surrendered, the Army spokesman said, included Boko Haram commanders, foot soldiers and suppliers of logistics.
Usman said in a statement that those who surrendered had been confirmed to have participated in several attacks in Bama, Borno State.
He said, “In a landmark event today, 80 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered en masse to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, in Bama, Borno State.
“The terrorists, among whom were commanders, suppliers and foot soldiers, confirmed to have partaken in several terrorist attacks, especially on Bama town, Borno State, surrendered as a result of the intense heat and continuous offensive action embarked upon by troops.”
He said that the only option available to the insurgents was to surrender as the Army, the Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies were committed to the actualisation of the presidential deadline to the military to end the insurgency in three months.
He urged other suspected terrorists to “also surrender or face total elimination.”
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has said that since the change of its leadership, soldiers no longer flee from battle. It said troops now face terrorists squarely.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Col. Rabe Abubakar, said this when he paid a visit to The PUNCH Place, Corporate Headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited on Wednesday.
Abubakar added that the morale of the troops had been boosted since the military command centre was relocated to Borno State following the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari and that the fight against insurgency had turned in favour of Nigeria.
The defence spokesman said the presence of military chiefs in the terrorists’ enclave and the availability of equipment had given soldiers the needed impetus to fight terrorism and maintain discipline.
He said, “If there were no enough weapons, I believe that what used to happen in the past would be happening now, such as the desertion of soldiers and soldiers granting interviews to the media.
“One of the elements of fighting insurgency is purposeful leadership and as you know the military chiefs are all in Borno. When a commander is in the midst of soldiers in the frontline, the morale is at an all time high. When the Chief of Defence Staff is in the same place with you, eating with you, it boosts morale.
“Secondly, we have arms empowerment. The lack of arms led to desertions and court martial but that era is now gone. We now have equipment that can conveniently help us confront this menace of Boko Haram.
“We now have the combined efforts of land combats. And this translates to the achievements we have today. Most importantly is the re-orientation of soldiers. There is now a paradigm shift. There is no propaganda.
“Whatever happens, we will say it as it is. If you observe, since this leadership came on board, whatever we see, we say it because we want Nigerians to appreciate what we are doing. We will keep Nigerians informed of whatever is happening. Those who were dismissed were investigated, recalled and are now being retrained.”
He said that efforts were being made to improve the civilian/military relationship, adding that departments had been set up to look into civilian complaints and errant personnel were being dealt with.
The defence spokesman said the military had been able to destroy Boko Haram at its core and that was why the sect was hitting soft targets as opposed to when it seized territories.
He urged the media and members of the public to continue to assist the military with information that would lead to the arrest of terrorists.
In a related development, Usman also on Thursday said that troops involved in the ongoing counter-insurgency had raided another fuel depot of the Boko Haram insurgents at Abbaganaram in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Usman said the insurgents had been distributing fuel to their camps from the destroyed fuel dump, which he claimed was discovered following a tip-off by well-meaning citizens.
The troops had similarly destroyed a major fuel depot of the insurgents at Ladu Bumbawa Ward in the Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno on September 25, 2015.
The NA spokesman said, “Troops yesterday afternoon, following a tip-off by well-meaning citizens, discovered and raided yet another Boko Haram fuel dump at Abbaganaram in Maiduguri city, Borno State.
“During the operation, one Musa Abba was arrested and the following items were discovered and confiscated: 11 drums of AGO, one empty drum, 192 pieces of 25 litres jerrycans, (out of which 70 were loaded with AGO, PMS and DPK), a Toyota bus one Peugeot car. a motorcycle and an air conditioner.
“The fuel depot was used to stockpile petroleum, oil and lubricants by Boko Haram terrorists and their equally heartless collaborators for onward movement to the terrorists’ camps in Sambisa forest.”
He commended the members of the public for acceding to the request of security forces to be furnished with information on the activities of the insurgents.
“Over time we have been exhorting the public, especially the residence of the North Eastern part of the country which has been mostly affected by the acts of the Boko Haram terrorists to cooperate fully with the military and the security agencies.
“It is gratifying to note that the call is being heeded to by the overwhelming majority of the people as exemplified by the courageous and patriotic efforts of the good citizens that exposed this fuel dump in their midst. It is important that people should see the fight against the Boko Haram terrorism as a collective responsibility,” he added.