.military widows

…The worst security threat is over-Information Minister boasts

… Claims 3,407 Boko Haram Terrorists surrender in one month

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor & Emmanuel Elebeke

Nigeria’s military establishment boasted on Monday that they had pushed rampaging terrorists and their commanders in the Northern part of the country to the brink, showcasing the sustained elimination of many ferocious elements and their collaborators as evidence of their success against the malevolent figures.

At a joint news conference in Abuja, the Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magaji, highlighted the recent successes recorded by the sustained bombarding of terrorist hideouts across the Northeast region and other operations conducted by the military in a bid to flush out enemies of state and ensure peace and stability in the land.

The minister, who disclosed some of the identities of the top terrorists and Islamic State of West Africa, ISWAP, killed in recent operations, pointed out that the target of the military is to ensure total defeat of the enemies of the country.

Bashir said, “The critical military objective of total defeat of the terrorists in the North East, is already being achieved. Synchronized ground and air operations have continued to inflict huge casualty on the terrorists and have been forcing many of them, including commanders and foot soldiers to surrender in droves, with members of their families.

“Whilst areas where terrorists hitherto had some freedom of action are being cleared, socio-economic life is gradually returning to most parts of the North East. Erstwhile Internally-displaced persons are now returning to their ancestral homes to start life all over, in dignity, under safer and more secure environment.

“Generally, in the past four weeks, more than 3,407 Boko Haram terrorists including members of their families have surrendered. Additionally, 66 terrorists were neutralized including one of the key ISWAP Commanders, Alhaji Modu Chaka Bem Bem and 20 of his fighters, while 55 were arrested and 52 civilians were rescued.

“Also troops recovered large quantities of ammunition and illicit drugs. The surrendered and arrested terrorists have been subjected to profiling and the relevant legal processes.

“During the operation, many terrorists were neutralized including a high profile terrorist leader who was on the wanted list of the military named Alhaji Abdulkareem Lawal (aka Abdulkareem Boss) and 27 of his gang as well as several others arrested while several bandits’ camps were cleared.

“Also, several kidnap victims were rescued and many rustled animals recovered. Military operations in the areas are now forcing hardened leaders of terrorists groups to surrender and embrace peace in the North West Zone. These operations would continue in greater intensity with the aim of restoring peace, security, law and order to all the operational areas

“Similarly, Operation WHIRL PUNCH, which covers Kaduna and Niger states, has been recently re-organized to also cover the critical Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, which had a defunct stand-alone operation codenamed Operation THUNDER STRIKE. It is pertinent to note that a huge volume of more than 30,000 vehicles ply the expressway on weekdays and about 50,000 vehicles during weekends, which highlights the socio-economic importance of the road.

“Additionally, as part of Operation WHIRL PUNCH, a subsidiary operation codenamed Operation FOREST SANITY has also been launched to flush out the terrorists from the forests that straddle Kaduna and Niger States. These efforts were geared towards flushing out criminal elements from the Kaduna – Abuja Expressway and its environs, and I am pleased to inform that the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway has been secured through a combined effort of the Armed Forces, the Police and other security agencies. In this regards, ground operations supported by air assets have resulted in several terrorists being neutralized including a notorious terrorist, Alhaji Shanono with 20 of his gang members with weapons and equipment destroyed while other suspected terrorists were arrested,” Magaji said.

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, boasted that going by the scale of success recorded by the military in recent weeks, it was obvious that the military was winning the war and that the days of terrorists and their collaborators were numbered.

The minister pointed out that although insecurity was not yet over, it was obvious that the malevolent elements in the land had been pursued vigorously to a point of weakness.

The minister said, “Today, we are here to tell you that while we may not be there yet, our military and other security agencies have succeeded – and are succeeding – in substantially restoring security across the nation. As far as the daunting security challenges we face are concerned, we can tell you that the worst is over. Never again will terrorists and bandits and their cohorts hold sway in our country.

“The security challenges we have faced, as an administration, have been daunting – from terrorism to banditry to kidnapping to separatist violence to crude oil theft to armed robbery and sundry crimes. It is undoubtedly the greatest challenge to the peace and security of our great nation since the civil war from 1967 to 1970. It is the kind of challenge that would have overwhelmed many nations. But thanks to the purposeful leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, we can say, I want to repeat, that the worst is over and peace and security are gradually returning to the land. Please do not misunderstand or misrepresent this assertion. We may still witness isolated cases of security challenges here and there, but it will not be on the scale that we have witnessed in the past.

“Please note that whereas in conventional warfare, the parties can declare a truce or cessation of hostilities, upon reaching an agreement, it is not the same for the kind of unconventional warfare that our military has been fighting in recent years.

“We are therefore not saying the battle is over. No. What we are saying is that our military and other security agents have been able to contain the daunting security challenges we face, and that the worst is indeed over. We have now put the terrorists, bandits and their ilk on the run and we will not relent until they have been crushed,” the minister stated.

On his part, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed that a total of 1,579,667 passengers were processed by the federal government last year. The number, according to the minister is made up of 163,091, which arrived by land, 993,508 by air and sea 195,219 by sea. Departure by land was 177,352, by air 1,093,518 and sea 88,459.

The minister also disclosed that within the same period, 148,711 applications for Nigerian visas were received; out of which 147,030 were approved while 1,681 applications were rejected.

Aregbesola said that in 2021, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS issued 1,041,537 standard Nigerian passports to Nigerians at home and abroad while it also issued 2,811 official and 895 diplomatic passports, 14,214 Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) and 150 refugee passports.

In spite of the gale of prison attacks, the minister boasted that the prisons have been fortified and warned that anyone who dares to attack any of them would not live to tell the story.

Aregbesola said, “Although a few of the custodial centres of recent have suffered a spate of unprovoked but cowardly attacks, thankfully, that is clearly behind us now. We have been able to strengthen the custodial facilities with very tough measures. They are now strong, well-fortified and impregnable. If anyone or group dares to test our will now, they may not live to regret it.

“There are a total of 75,601 inmates, including 1,271 military detainees, in all the nation’s custodial centres. These are made of 74,044 males and 1,557 females. Of this figure, only 19,064 (representing 25 per cent) are convicts. The rest are awaiting trial persons. Of the convicts, 3,150 are on death row waiting for execution because state governors have not assented their execution warrants.

“From the above figures, one of the biggest challenges we have in the custodial facilities therefore is the awaiting trial persons constituting a whopping 75 per cent of the inmates’ population and disproportionately usurping resources and space.

“Once again, I will like to appeal to state governments to speedy up the justice delivery system so that justice will be quickly delivered for them,” Aregbesola pleaded.

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