The Nigerian military has downplayed reports that a border town in Borno State has been recaptured by Boko Haram insurgents, saying it is a mere case of fleeing terrorists discovering a deserted town and deciding to shelter there.
According to the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, Marte has been deserted before the recent infiltration by insurgents after the military retook the town from the terrorists in February.
“There has not been any static deployment of troops in Marte for quite some time in line with the need to emphasize more aggressive patrol of many threatened isolated communities while the assault on the forests and mountain hideouts of terrorists is on-going,” Olukolade said in a statement.
“Only occasional patrols and surveillance have been undertaken towards the area, as the bulk of troops are engaged in the operation to clear the terrorists from all identified enclaves in the forest.
“Besides, Marte had been deserted by citizens, most of whom had fled to other towns while others are in IDP camps located in Maiduguri and other places.
“It is understandable that those terrorists escaping from the offensive operations in Sambisa and other enclaves are looking for place of respite. They must have found the Marte deserted and decided to harbour there.
“Now that their presence is reported, the issue will definitely be addressed in a very short while.
“There is really no cause for alarm in the way some reports are presenting this situation, as if it is a meaningful resurgence of terrorists.
“There will, certainly, be no respite for terrorists anywhere in Nigeria. Wait and see,” he said.