Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, has said that members of Boko Haram are now scattered across the country including Lagos after onslaught at their base in the North-East.
Buratai, speaking in a special interview with TheCable and THISDAY/ARISE in Lagos on Tuesday, said Nigeria is now faced with the challenge of terrorism, insisting that insurgency in the region had been defeated.
“We have defeated insurgency, but facing the challenge of terrorism,” he said.
“There is no where you will not find Boko Haram – even in Lagos here, there are Boko Haram. In Kaduna, there are Boko Haram. There are more across the North-East. Many have been arrested here in Lagos. We have been tracking them. We arrest them and take them into custody.
“We must differentiate between insurgency and terrorism. I have tried to tell them at the National Assembly. Someone said three local governments are under Boko Haram. How? These guys are not controlling any territory. They attempted to establish their territory, caliphate in Gwoza but they have not been able to because they were flushed out. That is insurgency. They are not holding any territory.
“Typically, that is the end of insurgency. But what of terrorism? Terrorism will outlive you and me and probably everybody in this house because terrorism, since it started, just like armed robbery, like kidnapping, burglary, cultism, it would continue. These are all smaller parts of terrorism. It is when it goes higher that you have arsons like it happened in Borno yesterday, murder and so on deliberately, no cause.”
Buratai’s comments come 24 hours after about 30 people were killed in Borno State by suspected Boko Haram terrorists who set ablaze several trucks carrying passengers.
The army has repeatedly said Boko Haram had been ‘technically’ defeated.
Buratai added that Nigerians should be grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari and the armed forces for discontinuing the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) set up to join in the fight against Boko Haram.
“…I was privileged to command the MNJTF. I have the concept operation in my fingertips. I realised the dangers of having an intervention force deployed in one’s territory. Although the concept provided for the operations of those countries’ armed forces or military within their own territory but that of Nigeria was an exception because the Chadian troops will be on our territory; the Nigerien troops would be on our territory although partially not completely, not until later when they created the fourth sector which had been deferred.
“These are the complexities. If we had allowed the foreign forces to be on our territories, our country will be divided along that line. Clearly, the adversary – the terrorists’ territory would be clearly defined as against our own sovereign territory.
“This is key. When Mr President came and saw the implication and I have been appointed the Chief of Army Staff, my first priority is to ensure that we don’t allow a full implementation of that concept of operation where the Chadian troops would be on our territory on permanent basis. That was the action I took,” he said.