Nigerian troops have flushed out Boko Haram ragtag forces from their long held fortress, Sambisa Forest, an emphatic indication that Nigeria has dealt a crushing blow on the seven-year-old insurgency.
President Muhammadu Buhari broke the news himself in a special message to Nigerian troops fighting under Operation Lafiya Dole.
“I am delighted at, and most proud of the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army, on receipt of the long-awaited and most gratifying news of the final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest.
I want to use this opportunity to commend the determination, courage and resilience of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at ‘Camp Zero,’ which is located deep within the heart of Sambisa Forest.
I was told by the Chief of Army Staff that the Camp fell at about 1:35pm on Friday, December 23, and that the terrorists are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide. I urge you to maintain the tempo by pursuing them and bringing them to justice.
I, therefore, call on all Nigerians to cooperate and support the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies by providing useful information that will expose all the terrorists hiding among the populace.
Further efforts should be intensified to locate and free our remaining Chibok girls still in captivity. May God be with them.
I also want to congratulate and commend the able leadership of the Nigerian Army in particular and indeed, that of the Armed Forces in general, for making this possible.
This, no doubt, will go a long way in improving the security situation not only in the North East, but the country in general. But we must not let our guards down.
Once more, congratulations to our troops and all who, in one way or the other, contributed to this most commendable and momentous effort. May the Almighty continue to be with you.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a most rewarding and peaceful Year 2017 ahead,” the president said.
According to Dailytrust, a ‘white man,’ whose nationality is not yet disclosed, was arrested after the operatiob.
“The man is under custody and providing positive information,” said a soldier, who just returned to Maiduguri from the liberated forest.
The soldier stated that while hundreds of Boko Haram fighters were killed during the offensive that began about a month ago, many others were captured alive while attempting to flee.
“Hundreds of Boko Haram captives, including men, women and children have been freed and taken to safety.
All I can tell you is that no big Boko Haram commander is alive in the Sambisa; we are in control of the forest.
It took months of planning and mapping because of the size, difficult weather and other factors in the Sambisa Forest,” the soldier said.
The source said that one of the major factors that delayed the capture of the insurgents’ hideout was the thousands of people, including those living in villages around the vast forest that were being held as human shield by the Boko Haram leaders.
It was gathered that the 4,200 troops were deployed to the Sambisa Forest through various fronts, including Ngurosoye, Konduga/Aulari, Bama, Fulka and Damboa.
“The 151 Battalion of the Nigerian Army advanced into Sambisa through the Banki-Darul Jamal axis, the 27 Battalion advanced through Mafa, the 152 Battalion advanced through Pulka, while the 222 Battalion approached the dreaded forest through the Maiduguri axis,” another soldier, who participated in the operation, said.
He said the operation was carried out day and night.
“When mine detectors cleared the way, troops moved in to confront the insurgents, who were equally well armed with sophisticated fighting equipment,” the source added.