The federal government has stoutly denied the allegation by a US-based non-profit organisation – that the Nigerian government was sponsoring terrorism – describing the allegation as “a disgusting distraction orchestrated by those seeking to weaken the ongoing massive onslaught against terrorism and banditry.”
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja, said “the so-called Global Advocates for Terrorism Eradication is a pesky irritant that should be ignored, especially because it is as confused as it is irresponsible.”
“This organisation called GATE is not even worth the ink with which its name is written. How can a serious organisation accuse a government that is tackling the twin evil of terrorism and banditry with uncommon determination of sponsoring terrorism?
“Is it not curious that this organisation has chosen this particular time, when terrorists are either surrendering in droves or running helter-skelter as a result of a renewed offensive against them by the military, to orchestrate a distraction? What could be GATE’s motive if not to weaken the fight against terror and banditry?
“GATE and its sponsors should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and
should quit trying to distract our gallant troops who are doing everything possible, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep our country safe.”
Lai Mohammed said the fact that GATE, in making its absurd allegation, “relied on the words of a thoroughly discredited, fake-news-peddling former Nigerian Navy intelligence officer” has shown the hollowness of its allegation.
“In the fight against terrorism, Nigeria has availed itself creditably by tackling home-grown terrorists with links to global terrorist organisations. We are bold to say that no administration in Nigeria has risen to the challenge of terrorism like the Buhari-led administration has done.
“The acquisition of a myriad of platforms, the boost to the morale of our fighting forces and the leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari have combined to put our gallant troops in good stead to frontally confront and put on the run the terrorists. Fittingly, Nigeria’s efforts at tackling terrorism have been hailed globally.
“What our gallant men and women need at this time is the support, encouragement, and prayers of all, not the distracting antics of a relevance-seeking, feckless organisation masquerading as a terrorism eradication advocate,” he said.
Troops Kill ISWAP Commander, 29 Others
Troops of the Nigerian military have neutralised a top-ranking commander of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and 29 other fighters in a military offensive at Askira Uba, Borno State, after the killing of Brigadier-General Dzarma Zirkushi on Saturday.
Brigadier-General Dzarma Zirkushi, the commander of 28 Task Force Brigade, Chibok, and three other soldiers, were ambushed by ISWAP fighters on their way to reinforce troops at Bungulwa village, near Askira Uba on Saturday.
The mission by ISWAP terrorists was a reprisal attack over the killing of their members by military jets in Borno on Friday.
Following the ambush, the troops, who had tactically retreated, regrouped, reinforced and ambushed the ISWAP commander and eliminated his fighters at Askira Uba axis.
Sources, both local and military, confirmed that over 30 of the insurgents were killed and their bodies recovered.
Military sources said the troops were still combing surrounding bushes in Askira Uba,adding that about nine gun trucks, an armoured personnel carrier (APC) and one Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) belonging to the terrorists were destroyed and others recovered by the Nigerian troops.
“This morning, while we are still mopping up the area, we have so far counted 30 corpses of the terrorists, while one of their leaders, a commander who was arrested for further investigation, died in custody this morning.
“We also recovered dozens of sophisticated guns during the clearance operation,” the military source said.
Meanwhile, Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has lauded the Nigerian military for its resilience, just as he empathized with it over the loss of its men.
Zulum commended the Nigerian military for putting up a strong resilience in a battle with fighters from the Islamic State of West Africa Province, who launched attacks on a military base in Askira/Uba Local Government Area of southern Borno State, on Saturday morning.
Governor Zulum, in a statement by his spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau, paid tributes to troops at the base as well as troops from neighbouring commands, who mobilised to provide reinforcement before they were ambushed.
Governor Zulum, while commiserating with the military over the loss of some military officers and personnel, thanked the fallen heroes for what he called “their supreme sacrifices to the Nigerian nation”, declaring that “the people of Borno will remain forever grateful to them and all fallen heroes, and will remain fully supportive of gallant troops currently operating in the front lines.”
Zulum said amid the loss of some officers and personnel, the military was able to mount heavy resistance and recorded gains which the state is proud of.
The governor consoled affected residents for the trauma caused by the attack and anyone who may have become victim directly and otherwise.
“Today’s unfortunate incident in Askira-Uba local government area reminds us that while our military, other armed forces, volunteers and all stakeholders make combined severe efforts towards peace-building; while many insurgents surrender their arms to toe the path of peace, and while reclaimed communities witness return of peace and access to livelihoods, some insurgents are hell-bent on ensuring we do not fully regain peace.
“The goal of these categories of insurgents should challenge us to remain focused and ceaselessly commit ourselves to supporting our troops in many ways, particularly with logistics on the part of the government, and with credible information and prayers on the part of all of us as people of Borno State.
“We must always affirm our faith in our armed forces, while the armed forces must remain up and doing. We must always recognise what we already know, that insurgents are always plotting with the element of surprise. Our troops must redouble their efforts to be ahead of the insurgents,” he said.
DHQ Denies Warning Soldiers Against Coup
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has denied a report warning soldiers against toppling the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The acting director, Defence Media Operations, Brig-Gen Benard Unyeuko, in a statement, described the report by the online medium as the handiwork of mischief- makers and enemies of the state trying to bring the military to disrepute.
Unyeuko, who spoke in response to a media report of Nigeria’s military warning politicians and officers against a coup which it credited to Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Army spokesman, said it was a deliberate and calculated attempt to mislead the general public in order to cause disharmony in the polity.
He accused the online medium of manipulating, with the intent to cause disinformation, a previous message released in May 2021 by the then director of Defence Information, who is the current Army spokesperson.
He said the online medium had its own sinister intention to cause confusion.
“The Military High Command hereby warns all mischief-makers and their proxies not to draw the military into their engagements. The Armed Forces of Nigeria remain apolitical and would not hesitate to deal decisively with any person or group of persons that want to tarnish its image or draw it into partisan politics.”
According to him, the Armed Forces remain loyal to President Buhari and had also sworn to defend the democracy as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.