The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said Boko Haram has been “knocked down” in Borno and other parts of the Northeast.
It said the only battle ground left is the Sambisa Forest, a swathe of thick bush that stretches about 80 kilometres and said to be the sect’s last stronghold.
This is just as the Nigerian Army said it is conducting investigations into the recent attacks near Maiduguri, the Borno State capital by the insurgents.
The Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar was reacting to the claim by the senator representing Borno Central, Baba Kaka Garbai that half of Borno State is still being occupied by Boko Haram.
Gen. Abubakar said: “The situation is clear on how much we have decimated Boko Haram. Technically, we have knocked down these insurgents.
“The insurgents have been beaten and I stand by what I said. I can beat my chest that the insurgents have been decimated.
“All these attacks on soft targets do not mean that Boko Haram insurgents are occupying any territory. They are carrying out these attacks in order to remain relevant. The insurgents are pretending to be alive when in reality they have lost out.
“The attacks on soft targets by the insurgents do not translate to occupation of territories or some parts of Borno State or the North-East.
“The insurgents’ attacks on soft targets are not peculiar to Nigeria. These terrorists do so in the U.S. France, Britain, and many countries. We are doing our best to protect these soft targets”.
The Defence spokesperson maintained that “What is left is Sambisa Forest. That is the last battle ground with the insurgents.
“This Forest is about 80kilometres but I believe very soon, we will overrun the Forest and rout out the insurgents. We will certainly send them packing from the Sambisa Forest.
“For anyone to make a claim that half of Borno State is under the insurgents is not helping the military. It is just to get media attention. We have decimated Boko Haram. This is the reality.
“We want to appeal to Nigerians to appreciate and support our gallant troops to maintain the high rate of success we have achieved in the war against the insurgents.
“This is a Nigerian war versus the insurgents. Boko Haram is a national catastrophe which requires the support of all to address. Every Nigerian must be seen to be contributing morally to the war against these insurgents”.
In a related development, the Nigerian Army yesterday expressed concern over the recent unfortunate attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on communities close to Maiduguri, despite the gains made in the counter-insurgency war.
“The Nigerian Army has already commenced investigation into the attacks… All cases of indiscipline and related acts of misconduct including human rights abuse in the operations will be tried by the Special Court Martial”, said the statement, without clarifying what the probe was investigating.