BY JERRY AJOGWU
The Nigerian Army has gained grounds in the last two months with the rescuing of over 5,000 people consisting of mainly women and children from the Boko Haram captivity in January and February 2018 according to exclusive statistics gathered by this newspaper.
Rescued captives, made up of mostly women and children, were freed between January and the first week of March even as attention remained focused on the more popular captives from the Chibok Girls and more recently school girls that went missing from Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi, Yobe State.
The ongoing military operations in some local government areas in Borno state amounted to a large percentage of those rescued. The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas gave an insight into the rescue operations of the Army during the rescue of 50 women and children in Doron Baga, in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno state recently.
“Through concise efforts, we were able to rescue over 50 women and children who were used as human shields by remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents around Doron Baga, close to the Lake Chad region. The operation was successful with minimal casualties on our sides. The women and children have been taken to the nearest IDP camp where the process of identification would begin.”
Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas had revealed that the operations that freed the captives also led to terrorists being killed or captured. Others surrendered after seeing troops’ resolve to hunt them down.
Similarly, on 7th January 2018, the Nigerian Army rescued 1000 people hitherto in Boko Haram captivity in multiple villages. All the hostages were rescued in Borno state, with 520 recovered in Kusumma village after a confrontation with Boko Haram fighters, and a further 309 from 11 other communities. On 18th January 2019, troops of 155 Task Force Battalion received 2,000 refugees from the Republic of Cameroon at Banki and Bama axis. Two days later, Army Headquarters Special Forces (AHQ SF) Battalion also rescued 63 persons held captives by terrorists at Maleri.
Within the first week of February 2018, the 254 Task Force Battalion also rescued 45 persons at Kuaguru, while 143 Battalion similarly rescued 27 persons at Gadayamo,15 at Galadadani Dam in Madagali and ten persons from Disa village. On February 24, 2018, troops of 231 Battalion and Armed Forces Strike Force (AFSF) also rescued 100 persons held captives by Boko Haram terrorists at Betso village; 20 of whom were elderly women and 15 young girls.”
On 5th March 2018 troops of 155 Task Force Battalion rescued 779 persons at Fotokol general area, a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon. The Nigerian soldiers in a particular operation in some Boko Haram enclaves saved about 400 persons held hostage by the insurgents were freed, and quite a number of the sect fighters were killed in the process.
The troops killed quite many Boko Haram terrorists and rescued 17 women, an old man and 24 children in the area. They also recovered 1 AK-47 rifle, six rounds of 7.62mm, and 295 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO), 12 Dane Guns, 21 unserviceable mobile telephone handsets and one serviceable as well as150 different SIM cards.
It would be recalled that the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas last month briefed about troops’ exploits in Nigeria’s north-east where the military is hunting down terrorists that began their insurgency to demand that Nigeria is governed by Sharia law.
Some of the families of rescued abductees who spoke with this Newspapers in Maiduguri were elated that the Army was able to restore the hope of reuniting with their loved ones after a long period of time.
Ali Bako whose wife and two daughters were recently rescued by the Army from a location in Sambisa told TheNigerian that only God can repay the Army as he was about giving up when the news got to him.
He spoke in both Kanuri and English:
“We have the Army and God to thank because no one had expected these family members to ever come back again, we thought they have been killed and gone but here again to see them.”
He concluded that families of those who are yet to see their loved ones should trust God.
While for Mrs Memunat Abdullahi, the return of her children who were taken away with her aged mother remains a miracle that no man can explain to her. When asked by this newspaper, She said “ miracle is miracle” and these were all she could utter.