Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest, is the end near?

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From the flurry of recent military activities and pronouncements, especially in Maiduguri, the Nigerian Military operational theatre command on the insurgency, deductions could be made that the fall of Sambisa forest, the bastion of Boko Haram insurgents, is imminent.
Apart from Security and Peace seminars or conferences sponsored jointly or a collaboration
with the Office of the National Security Adviser, Borno State Government, the Nigerian Military, the Nigerian Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Bar Association in Maiduguri, the recent pronouncements by the top military brass point to the fact that the Die is cast for the fall of the Sambisa Forest.
For example, recently in Maiduguri, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin unveiled the third list of 56 wanted Boko Haram leaders. Similarly, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai commissioned a large contingent of military vehicles and hardware in readiness for the final onslaught on Sambisa.
At another occasion, General Buratai announced that he would lead a team of top management of the Army from the Headquarters to Maiduguri and would remain in Borno
throughout Christmas and the New Year anniversary period.
Keen military observers regard the statement of the army Chief as a serious one. They are of the view that the visibility and convergence of Army chieftains in Borno, the epicentre of the insurgency, is a well thought design aimed at a calculated result.

Complete flush out of the insurgents from Sambisa, other adjoining forests and locations
in and beyond Borno is a task that must be done to make sense of government’s reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement programme

Uba Group

Above all, the recent announcement by the Army chief that he would like to relocate
the soldiers to the barracks in 2017 is very instructive. Perhaps, the latest press conference held in Maiduguri by the Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, the Theatre Command Centre on the insurgency in the State capital, Major General Lucky Irabor, for the update of military operations against Boko Haram unveiled the impending final onslaught on Sambisa Forest.
While giving the brief of the recent military operations in the State, General Irabor announced that spectacular successes have been recorded in the fight against the insurgency as thousands of captives have been released, some of the insurgents killed, while some arms were recovered.
However, General Irabor admitted that the Nigerian Army lost some soldiers, including
two Lieutenant Colonels, while few were wounded and were receiving treatments. General Irabor revealed that the military onslaught on the Sambisa Forest was imminent as the ground troops had taken almost virtual control of most of the outlets into the forest in preparedness for action.
He was of the view that the insurgents and some of the abducted Chibok school girls are in the enclave in the forest and pledged that efforts would not be spared to rescue the girls. The command gave a final warning to the insurgents to surrender before it was too
late.
The Nigerian Airforce also disclosed that it had intensified its bombardment of parts of the forest in its operation coded “Rescue Finale”. The Airforce, which regards this operation as the final entry point into the Sambisa, while on air raids and surveillance, dropped leaflets
calling on the insurgents to surrender.
Sambisa forest has been a thorn in the flesh of the Nigerian Military since the inception
of Boko Haram insurgency in the country almost seven years back. This predicament is not as a result of the nation’s military incapability, but due to negligence or the slip shod
approach to the fight from inception by the former administration.
The demise of Sambisa would signal the final liquidation of the terrorists who had longed used the base as a habitat from where they launched several attacks on Nigerian troops and reclined into the forest for safety.
Reports allege that the insurgents have built bunkers in the forest, which is heavily mined. Eye witnesses account revealed fact that more than four years ago, lorry loads of
building materials including iron rods, cement, woods, heavy building machines and others were conveyed into the forest without restrain.

In his write-up on the subject, ‘Dislocating Borno Haram from the Sambisa forest,’ an observer said, “unfortunately, they were allowed to occupy the forest for a long time, which provided them the opportunity to study and master the entire terrain, such
that they easily traverse with ease the link between Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad Republics.”
Complete flush out of the insurgents from Sambisa, other adjoining forests and locations
in and beyond Borno is a task that must be done to make sense of government’s reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement programme.
There is news making the rounds that the military wants to make the liberation of Sambisa Forest Christmas and New Year gifts to Nigerians. And may it be so.
Victor Izekor, a journalist and public affairs commentator writes from Maiduguri at victor_izekor@thepointing.com