Following the public outcry by Christian leaders in the North under the aegis of the Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) on Sunday calling on President Buhari help release Leah Sharibu, the Defence Headquarters has explained the delay in the rescue of Leah Sharibu and some aid workers abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast.
Sharibu was abducted on February 19, 2018 by insurgents at the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College Dapchi in Yobe State alongside other 109 girls but remains in captivity after other victims were released for refusing to denounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.
Christian leaders in the North under the aegis of the Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) on Sunday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to present Sharibu to the Christian community as their Christmas gift.
But the Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who addressed reporters on the Defence Headquarters Coordinated Joint Operations, stated that the rescue operation has lingered because troops are cautious not to put the lives of the victims, including Sharibu in danger.
He said that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were working tirelessly to ensure that Sharibu and other persons in the captivity of Boko Haram were rescued alive.
According to him: “Troops of operation lafiya Dole troops have been treading cautiously because these people are all in the hands of the terrorists and any reckless move may result in their annihilation by the terrorists just to ward off the troops, it is a very complex and risky operation but the troops are working day and night to ensure that they are rescued”.
Nwachukwu also countered the claim by the Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum that Boko Haram is occupying two local government Areas in the state.
The Defence spokesperson said that Boko Haram has been decimated and forced into the Tombus Island on the fringes of the Lake Chad from where it launches feeble attacks on soft targets.
According to him: “Book Haram is not occupying any part of this country, I want to make it clear that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been defeated and pushed into what we call the Tumbus, the Tumbus are the islands between Nigeria and neighboring countries of Niger and Lake Chad where they have their enclave and from where they come out and carry out attacks on soft targets, Boko Haram is not holding any inch of the country”.
Meanwhile, giving a breakdown of the activities of the Joint Operations coordinated by the Defence Headquarters, Nwachukwu disclosed that the five operations which include, Operation Safe Haven, Operation Hadarin Daji, Operation Thunder Strike, Operation Whirl Stroke and Operation Delta Safe increased the tempo of their operational activities across the country in the last three months with tremendous results.
According to him, the troops under the Operation Hadarin Daji in Zamfara and its environ, arrested 389 bandits, 48 kidnap suspects and rescued 1,048 kidnap victims within the time under review.
He said that the troops also recovered 5,567 rustled cattle, 2,499 sheep, 973 goats, 15 Camels and 14 Donkeys.
Other items recovered from the bandits according to the Defence spokesperson include 58 AK47 Riffles, five G3 Riffles, five FN Riffles, seven Pump Action Guns and 95 locally fabricated guns.
Others were three Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher, 12,803 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 100 rounds of cartridges and 128 magazines.