By Joseph Erunke, with Agency Reports
Maiduguri—The Nigerian Army yesterday said it had recovered Abubakar Shekau’s Qur’an and flag in Camp Zero, the Boko Haram’s Headquarters in Sambisa forest.
The Army also said it arrested about 1,240 suspected Boko Haram terrorists during a mop-up operation by troops inside the Sambisa forest.
This is even as Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, who represented Imo North senatorial district between 1999 and 2003, described the fall of Sambisa forest to fighting Nigerian troops in the North East as a fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral promise.
Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, disclosed this while giving newsmen update on “Operation Rescue Final” in Maiduguri.
“We believe that the Holy Book and the flag were abandoned by Abubakar Shekau while he escaped.
“The Book will be taken to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Burutai, for onward presentation to Mr President.
“We have also made a lot of arrests. Our troops in Damboa arrested about 15 Boko Haram members. We also arrested one Musa from Potiskum on Christmas day which was Dec.25.
“On Dec. 26 our troops also intercepted two Boko Haram suspects in Maiduguri.
“We, therefore, warn residents of the state to be wary of people coming to hide in and around their houses.
“We are also warning residents to report any suspected Boko Haram members hiding in their houses to relevant security agencie. Any failure to do that would tantamount to supporting and sympathising with the sect’s activities,” Irabor said.
The Army said it arrested about 1,240 suspected Boko Haram terrorists during a mop-up operation by troops inside the Sambisa forest.
Maj.-Gen. Irabor, who also disclosed this, said 413 of the suspects were adults; 323, female adults; 251, male children; and 253 female children.
He said the suspects were apprehended during a mop-up operation against the sect members in the forest.
“We are interrogating them to know whether they are Boko Haram members, because there is no way somebody that is not their member would live inside Sambisa forest.
“We are still on the trail of the terrorists and I want to assure you that all escape routes have been blocked. Within this period, also, about 30 fleeing suspected Boko Haram members have surrendered to the Niger Multinational Troops on the shores of the lake Chad and we learnt that they were taken to Difa in the Niger Republic.
“The suspects include; 24 male and six females.
“We would like to use this opportunity to encourage the terrorists to give up the fight because the window is still open,” the commander said.
Meanwhile, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume has described the fall of Sambisa Forest to the hands of fighting Nigerian troops in the North East as a fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral promise.
He expressed optimism that the country’s ailing economy would bounce back fully in no distant time, following the defeat of Boko Haram and subsequent take over of Sambisa forest by the military.
Araraume, now a chieftain of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, described the liberation of Sambisa forest as a landmark achievement for Buhari’s administration, insisting that the development would propel economic recovery in the short run.
The former lawmaker said in a statement yesterday: ‘“President Muhammadu Buhari has accomplished a major electoral promise to defeat Boko Haram and enforce national security.”
Araraume, who is also commissioner at the National Communications Commission, said: “The take over of Sambisa forest is a symbolism of a new dawn in the security sector, which will now prepare ground for economic recovery. Enhanced security will create enabling ground for flourishing of economic activities.
“Booming economic activities will result in new jobs and controlled inflation. Pain of recession will be gradually eased off and Nigerians will bountifully reap dividends of democracy.
“I call on Nigerians to support the Federal Government as it now focuses on economic recovery after it has crippled and wiped out that devastating insurgency. A Buhari who delivers on security promise will also deliver on economic recovery.”
He said with the fall of the forest, investments, both local and foreign, would be attracted by a more secured investment environment, adding that the 2017 budget, tagged Budget of Recovery, would now have peaceful environment for implementation.
“We must commend the officers, men and women of the armed forces for their gallantry . The Commander-in-Chief, President Buhari, deserves accolades on this historical occasion, “ he said.