Boko Haram has been degraded – Army Chief
Chief of the Air Staff Sadique Abubakar Monday reiterated the federal government stance that Boko Haram terror group has been degraded.
“Boko Haram is caged in a section of Northeast and we are fighting them on a daily basis,” Abubakar said in Ibadan on Monday.
“I can tell you that they are substantially degraded,” he said.
“Yes, from time to time, there may be a soft target here and there because we can’t be everywhere. Apart from that, I think you will agree with me that Boko Haram has been substantially degraded as compared to where we were coming where bombs were exploding at the United Nations headquarters and everywhere,” Abubakar said.
Boko Haram has been active in north-eastern Nigeria for well over a decade.
President Muhammadu Buhari government has always claimed that the terror group activities have been largely brought under control since he assumed office in 2015.
Buhari in December 2015 said that the insurgent group has been “technically defeated”.
He reinstated his stance during his New Year broadcast in 2018, announcing that “We have since beaten Boko Haram,”
However, since Buhari made the statements, hundreds of Nigerians and troops have been killed in suicide attacks, and coordinated attacks on communities in the North-east region.
Just less than seven days ago, a colonel, captain and three other soldiers of the Nigeria Army were killed.
On Friday, an aid convoy driver was killed and six people are missing following an ambush by the militants.
The jihadist group began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009. That has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response.
More than 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region. The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for over 35,000 deaths since 2011.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which it calls Islamic State West Africa Province.
The ISWAP faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but in March, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar, also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi, as leader. Despite releasing several videos featuring ISWAP since, ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change.
Since May, Islamic State has attributed insurgent activities in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area to its West Africa Province affiliate, rather than to what was previously known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. In a June 15 ISIS propaganda video, ISWAP militants purportedly in Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso were shown reaffirming their pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Baghdadi.
The regional counter-insurgency Multinational Joint Task Force which comprises personnel from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, launched Operation Yancin Tafki on February 21 to battle the insurgents. It has said the cross-border operation is aimed at “making islands and other settlements in Lake Chad untenable for Boko Haram Terrorists.”
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