A source in the military has said men of the Nigerian Army cleared up to three villages in Marte, a community that was under Boko Haram in Borno state.
The source, who spoke with SaharaReporters faulted a media report that the Boko Haram terrorists had hoisted a flag at Marte.
According to him, despite the fact that there was no military presence in the area, there was no basis for the terrorists to mount a flag in the area.
He said, “The towns have been reclaimed by the military, headed by a GOC, Abdul Khalifa. It was reclaimed at exactly 3 pm and several terrorists were eliminated, they have also advanced beyond Marte and there was nothing like any internally displaced persons being held hostage as some reports claimed. There was nothing like that, there was no issue.
“When the insurgents invaded Marte, people were told to just leave and it was the Boko Haram terrorists who conveyed people and even showed them some roads to follow so they would not step on landmines. As it is, the military men are still pushing forward, making efforts to go deep. So far, they said they have cleared up three communities though I don’t have the full names of the communities that were cleared.
“The towns were deserted, we only know that there was no military presence but there was nothing like capturing, hoisting of flags and so on. It will be difficult for Boko Haram to do that because there is no basis for that. A media report that said Boko Haram hoisted its flag got it wrong; the town of Marte was deserted, there was no network to confirm the situation on the ground. Even the GOC who had all the commanders and soldiers didn't know what was going on in Marte until he went there himself. How then did the reporter go there to find out that the town had been taken over, that Boko Haram had hoisted its flags in communities and so on. These are issues that should be looked into.”
He confirmed the invasion of towns by Boko Haram insurgents where soldiers were forced to retreat but he said they were immediately taken over by the General Officer Commanding 7 Division.
He said, “The commander of the other troop cowardly ran away. It took the efforts of the commander of Gudumbali to come and rescue the situation. The GOC, as at that time, was in the town of Barma, fighting in Sambisa forest. He had to stop, withdraw from that, come back around 8 am, followed the Barma road, transversed through Sambisa forest, and then afterward mobilised his soldiers around 2:30 am and then started going to Dikwa to reinforce the soldiers that were fighting because while the soldiers who were supposed to be in Dikwa were dislodged, the other soldiers from Gudumbali held their ground to ensure that Dikwa was not dislodged.”
On Sunday, the army chief gave troops a 48-hour ultimatum to recover Marte during a visit to troops fighting the jihadists in the North-East.