With hundreds of dead in gun and bomb attacks since he made his famous trip on December 5 last year from Maiduguri to Bama in Borno State, Nigeria’s minister of information appeared on Friday February 26, 2016, to be talking about a different war and victory against Boko Haram terrorists.
As he had declared last December, Mr. Lai Mohammed insisted on Friday that Boko Haram had long been defeated, but was venting its last rage with suicide bombings on soft targets such as churches, mosques and market places.
He called on Nigerians to be more vigilant and predicted even more deadly suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks as the seven year old war finally comes to an end.
The reason he was convinced Boko Haram had been “decimated”, he said, was because the terrorists today can no longer launch spectacular attacks as was the case when former President Goodluck Jonathan was in power.
Mr. Mohammed, who was answering a question asked on Friday night by SimonAtebaNews at the social media week event that held in Lagos from Monday to Friday, said he travelled safely on December 5 from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, to Bama, believed to have been the capital of Boko Haram for the past few years, a proof that the terrorists had been defeated.
Crossing the 89 kilometre distance safely to see things by himself, Mr. Mohammed said he realised once in Bama that there was no single terrorist left there.
They had either been killed or fled, although they burnt down 6, 000 houses before leaving, he said.
According to him, Boko Haram is trying to create the impression that it has not been defeated but “terrorism has been defeated in Nigeria”, he insisted.
After the President Muhammadu Buhari government defeated Boko Haram, he said, the terrorists took to the Internet and began recruiting “young boys”. They are now recruiting young boys on the Internet, he revealed.
He called on Nigerians to support the armed forces, saying that the military has done its bit and Nigerians must do their bit by being vigilant.
He said the focus of government now is on rebuilding of the region ravaged by Boko Haram, Nigeria’s northeast.
He swept aside claims by a senator in Borno that Boko Haram was still occupying 50 percent of the state and insisted that the war against insurgency was over.
But, despite those claims, evidence suggests that the war against Boko Haram is not just far from being over, but may last even longer than expected.
Since Mr. Mohammed made his famous trip to Bama, Boko Haram has slaughtered many people in Dikwa, Chibok, Adamawa, Borno and even in Dalori which is located less than 10 kilometres from Maiduguri, where President Buhari relocated the command headquarters of his military operations against Boko Haram.
That attack in Dalori, for four hours without military intervention, in an area located less than 10 kilometres away from Maiduguri, many say, was a pointer to the fact that Boko Haram was still strong and ready to massacre many people, even in areas protected by the military or not far from the armed forces.
Virtually on daily basis, there are gun and bomb attacks in neighbouring Cameroon caused by Boko Haram. Things are getting worse there, many say.
Joint military operations inside Nigeria between Cameroonian and Nigerian armed forces also show that the terrorists are still in charge of vast areas of land.
In the past two weeks for instance, the military said in a statement on Thursday that it rescued 1890 people, destroyed Boko Haram camps and pulled down its flag, a revelation that the militants are still in charge of some territories and their flag is still hoisted in many areas.
Besides, the 60,000 square kilometre Sambisa forest remains firmly in the hands of Boko Haram with landmines buried all over the place to slow the advance of the troops or inflict heavy casualties among them.
The Sambisa forest is 18 times the size of Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos and has been in the hands of Boko Haram for years. The Chibok girls kidnapped in 2014 and taken there are almost two years older now.
With Boko Haram still boasting of about 10,000 fighters and the Multinational Joint Task Force meant to fight them starved of funds, Mr. Mohammed’s victory claims can simply be described as “falsehood and propaganda”.
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