The army has taken over operations in the battle against Boko Haram in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
The states have been under a state of emergency since May 14, following the lingering insurgency by the fundamentalist sect, which seeks to islamise Nigeria.
The sect has been responsible for the deaths of almost 3,000 people, the maiming of others and dislocation of hundreds of thousands.
The sect members have also claimed responsibility for killing of students and burning of schools. In Borno, no fewer than 800 classrooms have been burnt, according to Governor Kashim Shetima. The attacks on schools and killing of pupils are in furtherance of the meaning of the sect’s name – “Western education is a sin”.
A new division of the Army purposely set up for counter insurgency will today take over the control of the three states. The Joint Task Force (JTF), which has operated in each of the states, will be scrapped. The JTF was composed by troops drawn from the three services of the Armed Forces as well as other security agencies that conducted the operation.
Director of Defence Information Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade said the Army Headquarters will assume command of the troops with immediate effect.
He said the change of baton was in line with the plans laid out for the conduct of the operations to execute the mandate spelt out in the May 14 declaration of State of Emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The operation is now code-named Operation BOYONA, an acronym derived from the names of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
“The effort was meant to constitute the first phase of the counter-terrorists operation. The Nigerian Army will now be solely in charge of the operations, but still under the routine guidance of the Defence Headquarters.
“A General Officer Commanding (GOC), in the rank of Major General, is being proposed to command the new Division which will have its Headquarters in Maiduguri. He is due to take over Command and the assets of the Headquarters of the Joint Task Force”, Brig. Gen. Olukolade’s statement added.
In spite of the appeal for peace and ceasefire by government through the amnesty committee, the sect has refused to bulge.
It remains divided, with some of its leaders opting for the olive branch while its leader Abubakar Shekau insists there is no deal.
In another video posted on the You Tube last week, Shekau even boasted that he could not be caught and dared United States President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to arrest him.
He vowed that insurgency would not stop.
There has been no let-up in the killings by the sect. No fewer than 18 people have been killed in recent clashes between government troops and the Boko Haram sect.
Eleven were killed on Thursday in a fresh attack perpetrated by suspected sect members in Damboa, Borno state according to sources said.
Earlier Friday, seven Boko Haram members were killed in an exchange of fire with policemen in Gombe state,.
In Damboa, residents alleged that foreigners, who spoke Arabic and were mostly fair in complexion, were among the attackers.
Ayamu Lawan Gwasha, representing Damboa at Borno House of Assembly, told Chinese news agency Xinhua, that his people were still living in “perpetual fear.”
Damboa is located in the southern part of Borno. It is a major base of Boko Haram which launched its insurgency in since 2009.
A total of 50 people were killed last Sunday when suspected sect members launched an attack on Konduga Community, located not far from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital
- Boko Haram: Shekau’s Deputy, Father Die In Encounter With JTF (transformationwatch.com)
- Boko Haram Kill 14 in Borno, Lose Seven Mujahideen In Gombe (ebijeisrael.wordpress.com)
- Several Female Boko Haram Suspects Arrested As JTF Now Hunts Women (kokoma360.wordpress.com)