The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai has called on displaced people in Borno North to return home to restart their lives as their communities are now safe and secured.
Buratai made the call at the inauguration of nine gunboats for the Amphibious Task Force Detachment at Baga, for patrol and clearing the remaining Boko Haram terrorists from the Lake Chad waterways.
“Let me use this opportunity to call on the good people of Northern Borno to please, leverage on the deployment of operation last hold to return to their communities which have long been liberated by our gallant troops.
Buratai said: “All roads linking communities within these areas have been cleared of improvise explosive devices (IEDs) as well as insurgent activities as they can no longer pose any credible threats to your daily routine,’’ he said
Earlier, the army chief, represented by Maj.-Gen. David Ahmadu, the Chief of Operation and Training, Army formally launched the ongoing “Operation Last Hold’’ at Gudumbali in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno.
The four-month long operation began on May 1 and was designed to flush out remnant of terrorists in Borno North and Lake Chad region as well as facilitate the return of IDPs to their communities.
Buratai said that the operation was meant to achieve three objectives.
“These are clearance operations to further decimate remnant of the Boko Haram terrorists, ensure return of IDPs to their communities and provide safe and secured environment for the resumption of farming, fishing and other economic activities in Northern Borno.’’
On gunboat and other platforms being delivered to the amphibious task force, he said that they were to enable the unit to immediately commence clearance of the Lake Chad waterways.
“The amphibious task force detachment is expected to work in conjunction with the ongoing naval operations to have a collective increased number of gunboats and capabilities.
“This is to ensure adequate patrols and force projection for clearance operations to provide security and safety for fishing as well as free use of the Lake Chad by our people,’’ he said.
According to him, the Lake Chad Basin provides water to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it, the bulk of which are Nigerians.
The chief of army staff noted that the Lake had the potential to provide over 300 metric tons of fish protein annually, representing about 12.2 per cent of the total fish demand of Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at Gudumbali, Buratai symbolically set fire to the bush (Sharan gona) to signal the commencement of the 2018 clearing and farming activities in the area.
Buratai appealed to the people not to provide “hiding place’’ for terrorists fleeing the ongoing last onslaught against them.
“They deserve no respite as they chose to bring this hardship on the North East of Nigeria.
“Operation last hold has the mandate to provide you adequate protection at home, farms and other places of business,’’ he said.
Buratai said that ongoing efforts to clear the terrorists and other criminal elements from the Sambisa forest had achieved tremendous success, adding that the insurgents were on the run.
“I want to also reaffirm the commitment of the Nigerian Army not to lose any ground in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in our country.’’
NAN reports that during the four-month ongoing operation, the following communities in nine local government areas in Borno North are expected to be cleared of terrorists: Malam Fatori, Gashigar and Damask.
Others are Gili, Zari, Gudu, Malumshi, Gudumbali, Gerere, Arege, Melete, Cuskawa, Kukawa, Kekeno, Ngole, Marte and Keremoa.
The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Roger Nicholas, Chief of Military/Civil Affairs, Maj.-Gen. Nuhu Angbazo, Commander, Operation Last Hold, Maj.-Gen. Abba Dikko and Acting General Officer Commanding – GOC 8 Division Task Force, Maj.-Gen. Steven Olabanji accompanied the chief of army staff.