The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, yesterday listed measures for ending Boko Haram insurgency, terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Gen. Buratai said a combined holistic approach by the countries of the Lake Chad was the surest way to defeat Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The army chief spoke at the Nigerian Military Cantonment in Jaji, Kaduna State, where he flagged-off the 2019 First Quarter Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Conference and Combat Arms Training Week.
He said the media and other stakeholders must stop glorifying criminals for the military and other security agencies to win the war against kidnapping, robbery and banditry in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto states.
Religious and traditional leaders, security analysts and the media, he claimed, portrayed armed robbers, kidnappers and ethnic militias as stronger than the military and other security agencies.
The army boss said: “The criminals and bandits are only as strong as the society paints or view them and further propagated by the media.”
He added: ”There is no doubt that we are engaged in asymmetric operations against terrorists side by side with the resurgence of kidnapping and armed banditry in the North West and the North Central.
“The strategy we used in the past to address such ugly trends in the South East and the South South must therefore be rejuvenated with new “out of the box” ideas to address the current security challenges.
“This has necessitated the launching of Operation Harbin Kunama III. The concept of this operation will require the combat arms as well as all combat support services working in synergy with other security agencies, the traditional institutions and other stakeholders to get rid of criminal elements.
“We must ensure information flow that will be converted into actionable and timely intelligence for troops to take proactive measures and to support and drive targeted operations. It is important that commanders in the field relate with the society and other security agencies in their efforts to bring the high rate of kidnapping, acts of banditry and attacks on villages leading to killings in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Katsina States to an end.
“At this point, I will seize this opportunity to caution the media and the general public not to glorify bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers and ethnic militias to the extent that they are seen as stronger than the military and other security agencies. The criminals and bandits are only as strong as the society paints or views them and further propagated by the media.
“It is important to state that information and intelligence flows from the people and indeed from the press and the public. Such criminal activities are intelligence based and the people, are in this regard to provide timely information and clear identifications of the perpetrators.
“Undue publicity and praise singing of the bandits and other criminal elements would only motivate them to commit more criminal acts at the detriment of the society. Therefore, the press, the general public, security analysts and public commentators are advised to show more maturity and due diligence in this collective effort of ridding the country of criminals and criminalities.”
Gen. Buratai said Boko Haram had aligned with ISWAP to make northern Borno and the general area of the Lake Chad Basin an enclave straddling the four countries in the region.
To ensure the defeat of both Boko Haram and ISWAP, the fight requires a combine holistic approach by the countries of the Lake Chad Commission.
“That is why Operation Yancin Tafki was launched to effectively ensure the total destruction of the insurgents hibernating and operating from the ‘tumbuns’ with a view to crippling their ability and capability to wage any form of war.
“The operational successes recorded in this first quarter 2019 in this fight have further underscored the Nigerian Army’s resolve to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“It is gratifying to note that the army within the first quarter 2019 has performed creditably well starting with the seizing of initiatives and turning the battle momentum against the Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast and rounding off with the professional manner with which the army supported the civil authorities, as part of our constitutional role, to ensure the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections.
“I must also acknowledge the resilience and doggedness of our troops in reversing the ugly trends that almost marred our concerted efforts in the North East.
“As you are all aware, Boko Haram has aligned with the ISWAP to make Northern Borno and the general area of the Lake Chad Basin an enclave straddling the four countries in the region.
“Thus, the fight requires a combined holistic approach by the countries of the Lake Chad Commission to ensure the total defeat of both Boko haram and ISWAP,” he stressed.
The conference is being attended by senior army officers, including serving and retired Generals. It is designed to appraise the activities of the army in the first quarter of 2019 and design strategy for future operations.