The Nigerian Army has degraded Boko Haram, the Nigerian
terror group, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, insisted at the
weekend, explaining that the recent sporadic attacks on military locations in
the North-east of the country were the handiwork of international terror,
isolating Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) as the culprit.
Buratai spoke at an interactive session with media
editors in Maiduguri and said the military had successfully concluded the
physical and conventional war against Boko Haram, having expelled it from the
He explained that what subsisted was the psychological
phase of the fight against terror, saying the terrorists sought to intimidate
the Nigerian military through propaganda that could demoralise the troops and
discourage them from effectively concluding the ongoing mop up of remnants of
Saying the major platform of the terrorists in this
psychological phase of the fight was the media, he appealed to the editors to
make their media unavailable to the extremists even as he praised the Nigerian
press for their cooperation with the military in the war against terror.
“The real situation on the ground is that in terms of the
conventional war against insurgency, Boko Haram has been degraded,” he said,
adding, “What we are dealing with now is international terror led by Islamic
State West Africa Province.”
According to Buratai, “The operational and physical war
has been contained. It is no more a physical war. It is a psychological war and
they are using the media to wage it.”
He said what was happening in the North-east was less of
insurgency and more of crime, explaining that the trend had moved from local
uprising to organised international terrorism.
The Army boss said Boko Haram having been effectively
contained had yielding ground to ISWAP and warned that even when the new terror
machine is defeated there are no guarantees that a new group would not emerge.
“There are people somewhere pulling the strings, and what
we have now is a psychological war with international terror dimensions,”
Appealing to the media not to yield their platform to the
he said, “My appeal to the media is to deny the
terrorists access to propagate their dastardly acts. Giving them space in your
media encourages them. It is the tonic they need to energise their followers,
intimidate the public and demoralise troops.”
He praised the media for what they had done so far in the
coverage of the war against terror even as he requested for less dramatization
of the activities of the terrorists.
Buratai responded to media complaint of slow response to
enquiries, explaining that it was the nature of the military to be cautious in
disseminating information, particularly about causalities, adding that apart
from the need to ensure accuracy, there were also national security
implications that would have to be considered.
“We have procedures in the military, which may not accord
with your need for timely response to request for information. But I assure you
that our policy is openness, and all I appeal for is your understanding,
knowing full well that we have nothing to hide at all times,” he said.
The military had come under heavy criticism over its
handling of information on recent attacks on 157 Task Force Battalion at
Metele, on the fringe of Borno State, where 23 soldiers were killed by Boko
Haram. It took the Army almost a week before it clarified the casualty figures.
But the Army boss explained that it was not deliberate,
saying military procedures required that they do proper checks and account for
troops before making pronouncements, saying these take time to conclude.
He assured that the army took the welfare of troops
seriously, denying any iota of truth in speculations that soldiers’ salaries
and emoluments were being compromised by the military high command.
“No officer would dare such a thing. We take issues of
welfare of troops very seriously and deal decisively with any infraction in
that regard,” he said, appealing against further publication of such
speculations because “portraying the officer corps as corrupt and uncaring
would have demoralising effects on the soldiers.”
Buratai also spoke about the funding and equipment
available for the war against terror and said the federal government was doing
its best within the resources available to the country.
“No Army can h
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