The Nigerian military has again reiterated its commitment to reclaim Sambisa Forest and bring the Boko Haram insurgency to an end.
The military, which stated this through Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, the theatre commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, also said the proposed swap deal involving the missing Chibok schoolgirls with some captured Boko Haram members should not be seen as a sign of failure.
Irabor said if President Muhammadu Buhari in his wisdom, decided it was right to go with the swap deal on the missing Chibok girls it should not be seen as a sign of failure on the part of the President or the military to rescue the missing girls.
Irabor, who spoke at the 23rd Armoured Brigade Jalo Cantonment in Yola on Wednesday, after he received operational briefing from Brig. Gen. Benson Akinroluyo, the Brigade Commander 23rd Armoured Brigade, and other military officers involved in the counter-insurgency operation from the Adamawa axis.
He said Nigerians ought to commend President Buhari for his wisdom to opt for the negotiated release of the missing schoolgirls held in captivity by the Boko Haram sect.
He said, “The operative objective of the military in its counter-insurgency operations derives from the President’s statement that the war against insurgency would not be said to have been won without the rescue of the Chibok girls.
“If in the wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief, he believes that the swap for the release of the Chibok girls is what is best, that doesn’t mean failure. How does it amount to failure?”
President Buhari, in his inauguration statement in May 2015, had said until the Chibok girls were rescued, the war on Boko Haram insurgency could not be seen to have been won.
Irabor argued that the military could not now be adjudged to have failed in carrying out that mandate if it opted for negotiations.
He said, “There are other countries where this had been done and so we don’t need to go into any contention with that. Don’t forget that these people that we are talking about are Nigerians. Mr. President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He’s the President of every Nigerian, both good and bad. Thus, it is not good to say that the military has failed if there’s a swap.”
He added that the military would do the needful to bring the insurgency to an end and if that entailed hunting down the insurgents until the last man, it would do so.
He said, “Regarding Shekau; we have had a series of Shekaus that had been killed. And I can confirm to you that the original Shekau was actually killed, the second Shekau was also killed. That, I can also confirm to you.
“The man that now presents himself as Shekau, I can also confirm to you, was wounded a few weeks back. I am yet to confirm whether he is dead or not.”
He pointed out that the current divisions within the Boko Haram sect was proof that the sustained military clampdown on the insurgents had brought the sect under pressure and strained their cohesion as those who had felt the heat were now on the verge of surrendering.