Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has restated his order to troops to capture Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau dead or alive.
Gen. Buratai spoke at Camp Zairo, the former command and control centre of the terrorists in the Sambisa forest during an operational visit to troops.
In 2017, the army chief gave troops a 40-day ultimatum to capture Shekau. The army last week offered a N3 million reward for information on the terrorist.
Troops destroyed the camp in January in an operation tagged “Deep Punch II’’ and are now dominating the general area of the forest.
The military sacked Shekau from the camp in December, 2016 but the terrorists have been launching pockets of attacks.
Other locations visited by Gen. Buratai are Bita and Tukumbere, all settlements within the forest but almost deserted due to the insurgency.
“Let me say congratulations. But, we must move across to wherever this criminal, Shekau is and catch him red handed. I want you to get him.
“Mr President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces says ‘congratulations’ to all of you for recovering the Sambisa Forest.
“As far as we are concerned, we have come to the end of this operation (clearing the forest of remnants of terrorists).
“What is remaining now is the Lake Chad waters only and we hope to do that (clear terrorists from it) also very soon.
“You all know these criminals are still on the run; these guys are on the run, you must make sure that you get them wherever they are around this area.
“You must not allow them to escape. Everyday, you must go on patrol, lay ambush for them and you go on raids.
“This is the time we have to consolidate and ensure that this place – Sambisa forest – is safe and never for these criminals to come back to it,’’ Gen. Buratai told the troops.
The Chief of Army Staff said that he was in Sambisa and Camp Zairo to confirm their capture, destruction and domination by the gallant troops.
“We are going to transform this place, apart from making it a training area.
“We are going to have a modern defence establishment in terms of the provision of basic requirements for your comfort and indeed for your operations.
“We are already making sure that the first set of facilities are brought here,’’ the army chief said.
Gen. Buratai promised the troops a special package to boost their morale.
“We are going to have some special packages for all of you that penetrated this forest.
“We will make sure that your morale is high by making the necessary provision for you to be comfortable,’’ he added.
On rotation of troops, the army chief said that plans were on to rotate those who had stayed long in the theatre of operation.
“This is in our plan. I know that some of you were inducted here right from the depot but we are doing something for you to be properly deployed and properly accommodated as well.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that 3,000 troops would be inducted into the Operation Lafiya Dole this week, to replace those who had stayed long.
Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole,, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, said with the capture of camp Zairo “the soul and mind of Boko Haram have been broken in Sambisa forest”.
“They don’t have a place to hide. We are still going round to make sure that some of them that are hiding in holes, we intend to fish them out,’’ Nicholas said.
He said that on assumption of duty in 2017, the chief of army staff tasked him to capture Camp Zairo and clear Boko Haram from the Sambisa forest.
“Troops have finally cleared the forest of remnants and we are presently occupying camp Zairo as well as all the little settlements and camps within the forest.’’
Staff Sgt. Dauda Mohammed, one of the troops who participated in the operations that finally destroyed Camp Zairo and clear the forest of remnants of terrorists, attributed their success to the Almighty God.