As intelligence continues to point to a determination by Boko Haram insurgents to launch a major offensive against Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters today issued an upbeat statement, contending that soldiers continue to score big victories in the war against Boko Haram.
In a tweet posted on its Twitter handle today, the Defense Headquarters asserted that the military was using air and land attacks to “stabilize” Mubi, Michika, Baza, Gulak, Gwoza, Bama, Gamboru Ngala and other towns and villages in the northeast region that were recently captured by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
“The efforts are yielding impressive results in the overall move to rid the areas of terrorists activities,” said the military in its post. The statement accused a section of the media of causing panic and chaos in the embattled area through negative reports thatignored the military’s ostensible advances.
In particular, the tweet alleged that, “alarmist reports on foreign and online media on Maiduguri is clearly intended to cause panic in the city and the nation.”
UPDATE: Situation in Mubi, Michika, Bazza, Gulak, Gwoza, Bama, Gamboru Ngala & other parts of the North East is being stabilized.. /1— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) September 11, 2014
as highly coordinated Air&Land OPs are ongoing.The efforts are yielding impressive results in the overall move to rid area of terrorists /2— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) September 11, 2014
Despite the accusatory note, security sources in Abuja told SaharaReporters that they were aware of plans by Boko Haram to launch a daring operation with the objective of capturing Maiduguri.
“We know that Boko Haram militants are regrouping in areas around Maiduguri for a final push to take thecapital of Borno,” one source said. He added that the insurgents who last week attacked and seized Bamaremained in control of the town. And they arecurrently moving weapons to Jere area in Bama.”
Several former residents of Bama, who fled as the insurgents invaded their town, corroborated theaccount of the security source. “None of us has been able to return to Bama since we ran away last week,” one such former resident told our correspondent.
Another security source told SaharaReporters that local residents had reported seeing Boko Haram militants moving weapons to locations near Maiduguri. He said that some of the weapons were likely those captured from soldiers who retreated hastily from Bama, Michika and Gwoza as the insurgent fighters advanced.
Our source said that military authorities in Abuja were aware that the insurgents could launch an attack on Maiduguri soon “unless we make a concerted effort to dislodge them from the towns they recently captured.”
According to him, some of the sect commanders had recently slipped into Kalabalge town for what is believed to be strategy sessions. “I won’t be surprised if they want to capture Maiduguri as a Sallah gift to their fighters,” he said. The Islamic Sallah, also known as Eid, celebration comes up on the first week of October.
Three days ago, Nigerian troops killed at least 50 militants, and pushed other insurgents out of Kawuri, a town about 15 miles from Bama. But two sources told our correspondent that the army had made little progress to recapture Bama since then.
One reason for the slow progress, according to a military source, was that soldiers were drafted from the Bama front to Vimtrim in Adamawa State in order to protect the hometown of the Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh.
Our security source restated that the Nigerian military was capable of defeating the Islamist insurgents, despite the fact that the sect has gained ground in the three northeastern states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. “We need to utilize the best intelligence and ensure that the troops are well armed with weapons to do the job,” he said.
The military’s tweet today tacitly acknowledged the threat against the Borno State capital. “All facets of security arrangements for the defense of Maiduguri[have] been upgraded to handle any planned attack or attempt to disrupt the city's prevailing peace,” said the tweet, adding, “This kind of alarmist report is uncalled for in view of the efforts and alertness.”
The tweet urged citizens “to remain vigilant as they go about their lawful business.” It claimed that the “situation in Mubi, Michika, Baza, Gulak, Gwoza, Bama, Gamboru Ngala and other parts of the North East is being stabilized as highly coordinated air and land operations are ongoing."
“The efforts are yielding impressive results in the overall move to rid the areas of terrorists activities."