The tour of North-Eastern Nigeria ravaged by insurgency and the visit to camp zero in the Sambisa forest by Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group has no doubt changed the mind perception of the group towards frantic efforts made by security agencies in rescuing Chibok school girls and other abductees held captive by boko haram terrorist.
The stop over at the Air Component Base of Operations of Lafiya Dole, Yola in Adamawa state has availed the group the opportunities to see the real front footages of operations by the airforce and comprehend the ‘when and how ‘ aspects of the operations.
The Federal team made up of the Minister of Defence, Mansur Liman, his Information counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the team was led by the the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique and they were joined by the BBOG converner, Dr Oby Ezekwisili, the Co-convener of the group, Hajiya Aisha Yusuf, top airforce hierarchy as well as a team of journalists from various media.
The entourage was received by Air Vice-Marshal Nurudeen Balogun as well as the Tactical Commander, Charles Ohwo at the Air Components Base of Operation Lafiya Dole, located at the 73 Strike Group of the Nigerian Airforce base, Yola.
The Air Officer Commanding, AVM Nurudeen Balogun briefed the delegation on ‘WHEN’ aspect of the operations and its financial involvement which according to him has cost the sum of N2.7 billion from 2016 to date. He said, “the fight against terrorism took NAF 6,773 hours on air carrying out mission of attack on the insurgents in the North-east region which culminated into greater success with the ground troops”.
On the ‘How’ aspect of the operations in the fight against the insurgency, the air company commanding officer, Air Commodore Charles Ohwo who discribed the land mass of Sambisa forest at 60,000 square kilometers which occupies 18 percent of Borno state as well as 18 times the size of Lagos state.
He noted that adequate surveillance and intellegence was carried out before carrying out such mission by the force.
During the 6,773 air operational hours by the force, the force rescued and identified abducted persons at Dure’Yawe as well as Njimia and other places, they were handed over to the ground troops for onward evacuation to Internally Displaced Camps in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states respectively.
To ensure a corrupt free Air Force, Ohwo explained that in 2016, the fighter planes used in the operation Crack Down which lasted for 23 days and led to the capture of Njimia, Gama Aiki; Malla Favorite Forest Storm, organized by NAF headquarters which lasted for 116 hours as well as operation Rescue Finale. He explained that fuel consumed during the course of the operation was N2, 738,062.245 billion Naira during the year under review.
Given the foregoing, the convener of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), Oby Ezekwesili asked the air force boss the following questions:
“What strategy was adopted by the air force in rescuing Chibok girls in view of the poor operational command base at the inception of the insurgency?
Two, “what is the significance of capturing camp zero in Sambisa forest Three, “what is the end game in the fight against the insurgents?”
Mrs Oby Ezekwesili added that Nigerians are still questioning the reported capture of sambisa forest since it does not amount to the defeat of boko haram as the insurgents are still killing people and Chibok girls among other abductees are yet to be found.’’
The Chief of Air Staff, however, lauded the good working synergy among the security agencies involved in the fight against boko haram which he said is yielding positive results. He explained that fleer camera 3808P, one of the most expensive surveillance cameras, has been acquired for increased intelligence gathering in the fight.
The Air Chief added that his men are very cautious while conducting ariel bombardment in areas ravaged by insurgency in order not to kill innocent souls or fleeing women and children from the terrorists.
“Those you see wearing hijab on the footage are not necessarily women, they are boko haram terrorists, don’t forget that they are also trained to fight,” Sadique added.
“We are fighting boko haram legitimate targets and at the same time reviewing battle damage assessment in order not to kill fleeing women and children as well as innocent people”.
“Finding and returning the Chibok girls and other abducted Nigerians is at the heart of the Air Force operations.’’
“At the heart of the Military operation is the cautiousness for the safety of civilians especially women and children while carryout ariel bombardment against the boko haram fighters in areas occupied by the insurgency.
“Sufficient intelligent gathering has become essential before launching any attacks. The Air Force has four highly equipped aircrafts undertaking
Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance as against the single aircraft it had in the past.
“We are still working to dominate the territory; the Military is coordinating with the ground troops to fish out the remaining members of the insurgency group on the run,” the Chief of Air Staff asserts.
Minister of Defense, Mansur Ali lauded the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari for his undaunted support in fighting the insurgency.
He said, ‘‘the sum of $100 million released by this administration has gone a long way in the provision of logistics and equipment to fight the war.’’
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “capturing sambisa forest is a huge success in the fight against the boko haram insurgency, adding that the end game of the fight against insurgency is society without war and violence’’
The Adamawa State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mallam Ahmad Sajoh, said the state government has earmarked 12 Per cent of its 2017 budget for wealth creation and poverty alleviation in the state.
This, according to him, is to “empower the youths towards a meaningful economic productivity, and to eradicate lawlessness on the streets.
Some members of the BBOG were then taken on an Intelligence tour of the Sambisa area.
As good working synergies between security agencies involved in the fight against insurgency in the North-east is yielded good Success.