Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, has again charged troops to capture Abubakar Shekau, factional leader of the Boko Haram sect, alive or dead.
The charge comes six months after Buratai gave his men a 40-day ultimatum to arrest the Boko Haram leader, “dead or alive”.
Speaking when he visited soldiers at Camp Zairo, the former command and control centre of the insurgents in Sambisa forest, Buratai said his men have done very well.
“Let me say congratulations. But, we must move across to wherever this criminal – Shekau is and catch him red-handed. I want you to get him.
“Mr President, command-in-chief of the armed forces says congratulations to all of you for recovering the Sambisa Forest. As far as we are concerned, we have come to the end of this operation (clearing the forest of remnants of terrorists).
“What is remaining now is the Lake Chad waters only and we hope to do that (clear terrorists from it) also very soon. Meanwhile, you all know these criminals are still on the run; these guys are on the run, you must make sure that you get them wherever they are around this area.
“You must not allow them to escape. Every day, you must go on patrol, lay ambush for them and you go on raids. This is the time we have to consolidate and ensure that this place – Sambisa forest, is safe and never for these criminals to come back to it.”
The chief of army staff said that he was in Sambisa and Camp Zairo to confirm the capture, destruction and domination by the “gallant” troops.
“I am glad that the troops have done the country proud and they have done Mr President proud by not only capturing the Camp Zairo within the forest but also consolidating on this success,” he said.
“It is a thing of pride and I want to say that we are proud of the Nigerian troops. We are proud of members of the armed forces, the Air Force, Navy, Police, DSS and indeed Civilian JTF, who have provided the needed service.
“We are going to transform this place, apart from making it a training area. We are going to have a modern defence establishment in terms of the provision of basic requirements for your comfort and indeed for your operations.
“We already making sure that the first set of facilities are brought here.”
In an interview with reporters after the visit, Rogers Nicholas, commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, said with the capturing of camp Zairo “the soul and mind of Boko Haram have been broken in Sambisa forest”.
“They don’t have a place to hide. We are still going round to make sure that some of them that are hiding in holes, we intend to fish them out,’’ Nicholas said.
He said that on assumption of duty in 2017, the chief of army staff tasked him to capture Camp Zairo and clear Boko Haram from the Sambisa forest.
“Troops have finally cleared the forest of remnants and we are presently occupying camp Zairo as well as all the little settlements and camps within the forest,” he said.