A recent joint military operation by Nigerian forces has smashed Boko Haram cells in central Nigerian states of Kogi and Nasarawa states.
And it led to the capture of 778 relations of the Boko Haram terrorists.
Maj.-Gen. Moundhey Ali, Commander, 4 Special Forces Command said the operation, codenamed “Operation Nut Cracker”, was carried out by the Army, Nigeria Air Force, Nigeria Navy, the Nigeria Police Force as well as the Department of State Services.
He explained that the operation was conducted to clear out terrorists and bandits camps in Ugya, Panda and Uttu forests and contiguous hill in Nasarawa state, as well as Zagana, Makpa, Agbuchi and Barada in Koton Large LGA, Kogi state.
According to the commander, the operation as directed by the Chief of Army Staff, followed several complaints of killings, kidnapping for ransom, abduction for sex slavery and cattle rustling among others in the region.
He revealed that the Boko Haram terrorists, operating as Darul Salam, in the North Central region had established camps in Nasarawa and Kogi communites over the years, from where they unleashed mayhem on victims along Okene-Lokoja, Lokoja-Abaji, and Toto-Umaisha roads.
He said their crimes made social and economic activities in the area almost non-existent.
Ali said that the feat was a product of seamless cooperation and professional execution based on detailed preparations.
Ali said 778 of the terrorists’ family members were captured from Uttu community in Toto LGA of Nasarawa state.
On Monday, he handed over the captives to governors of 16 northern states for rehabilitation.
The handing over was done on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the command headquarters in Doma, Nasarawa state.
Ali said the captured relations of Boko Haram come from 17 states.
He said they hail from Niger, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kogi, Kaduna, Bauchi, Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Gombe, Kwara and Yobe states and FCT.
He added that the women were fully involved in the act of terrorism as they were responsible for indoctrinating new kidnap victims and also serve as bankers of the spoils of kidnapping and armed robbery acts of their husbands.
He said that items recovered from the destroyed terrorists camps include improvised explosive devices, ammunitions and materials for producing rockets.
According to him, intelligence had proven that the explosives were prepared to cause mayhem in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ali attributed the success of the operation to the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces President Muhammadu Buhari, the Service Chiefs as well as the people of the region.
“I must reiterate that, the people of North Central region have proven beyond doubt, that indeed even in the 21st century, terrorism can still be defeated when the people reject the terrorists.
Three states governors were present at the handing over ceremony
Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa and his Niger state counterpart, Abubakar Bello were represented by their deputies, Dr Emmanuel Akabe and Ahmed Ketso, while. Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi was represented by his Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on security, Doru Jerry.
Governor Sule in his remarks, lauded the security agencies for the feat.
He advised the fleeing terrorists to take advantage of the widow of opportunity provided by the military to surrender themselves in order to be reintegrated into the society for the sake of peace in the state and the country at large.
Similarly, Gov. Bello of Niger assured that the women and children of the dislodged terrorists would rehabilitated.
Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, on his part, urged security agencies to sustain the tempo of the onslaught against the terrorists in the area.
*With reports by Sunday John/Doma/NAN