MILITARY STEPS UP BATTLE AGAINST BOKO HARAM

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• Deploys more special forces, equipment to North-East
The military has begun a final battle to rid the North-East of Boko Haram insurgents to pave the way for the successful conduct of the general elections, which were pushed forward by six weeks based on security concern.
New Telegraph gathered yesterday that more specially-trained troops on counter-terrorism and heavy military equipment have been deployed in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Gombe in a determined bid to end the Boko Haram insurgency in the troubled region.
A top military officer said the military was resolved to end the war on terror this time around to prove to Nigerians and the international community, that the Armed Forces are still as competent to defend the nation’s integrity.
According to the source, the offensive will surely decapitate the insurgents before March 28, which is the new date the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed for the presidential and National Assembly elections. Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega had on Saturday night predicated the postponement of general elections earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28 on “advisory” by military chiefs that they could not guarantee security of poll officials and materials should the commission insist on the original timetable.
When New Telegraph sought to know the true state of affairs in the North-East and its correlation with polls’ postponement, the source said: “It is true that more serious attention is being focused on the operations in that area now than ever before.
“At the moment, there is additional deployment of our special forces, who have been trained on serious counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency offensives. “From what I see, between now and 28 of next month (March), when elections will take place, these Special Forces, who will join their colleagues on ground, will chase these rag-tag guys out of the region.
“This will happen because they will handle, with precision, the latest military hardware and other equipment brought from Russia to neutralise what the insurgents are parading. “Let me also inform you that there is no more room for any elder from anywhere, to come and beg us for restraint on the excuse that some of their kith and kin are being held, and that a total war will put them in the harm’s way. “Our well-trained Nigerian Air Force pilots are also pounding these elements through air strikes, with helicopter gunships fully equipped with night vision.”
On the content of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last Friday between the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh and his Chadian counterpart, Major General Brahim Mahamat, the source refused to disclose facts. He, however, said: “The only details I will give you are that about 2, 500 Chadian forces are currently engaging the insurgents around border towns such as Malumfatori and others while 5,000 of our soldiers will join the onslaught. “The two defence chiefs also agreed on the need for Chadian troops to restrict operations to border areas even as they are not to annex any Nigerian border town liberated from Boko Haram.”
He added that the new approach is for Nigerian troops to “sustain ongoing air and ground assaults on insurgents’ strongholds in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states; force them to attempt to escape through border towns, where the allied troops will complete the mission.” The essence of Badeh and Mahamat’s meeting in Abuja was to make additional inputs to the MoU signed in the Chadian capital, N’djamena, on January 18, and to also iron out some grey areas, the source stated.
Chad appears the first among countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to send troops following a multilateral agreement among Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Also speaking on the polls, the police said they started preparations for this year’s elections since late 2013 and so could not have been among the security agencies INEC said advised against holding the elections as earlier scheduled.
Responding to New Telegraph’s enquiry on INEC’s position, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, an Acting Commissioner of Police, said via text: “There was no claim by INEC that the police lack of preparedness necessitated a shift in election date. “No. Not the police.
We got prepared for all that may arise in the elections since late 2013. Don’t forget that the police were fully on ground at all the primaries, congresses and conventions of all the political parties. There is no fault on our part please.” Meanwhile, scores of Boko Haram insurgents were said to have been killed yesterday while trying to overrun Damboa town, the headquarters of Damaboa Local Government of Borno State.
A resident of the area, Aisami Bukar, who fled to Maiduguri, told reporters that troops of 195 Battalion repelled the insurgents who had launched their attack on the town about noon. According to him, the insurgents tried to attack Damboa from Kalla village just two kilometres from the town when the military ambushed them, killing many.
Source: New Telegraph

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