Army dismisses report of halting operation to aid Shekau’s escape


Buratai, COAS

The media report that the Nigerian Army had altered movement of troops under Operation Deep Punch II to allow escape of Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau has been dismissed.

The Nigerian Army denied the report on Friday but clarified that the troops’ movement was temporarily halted in line with military plan and strategy and in view of the exigencies of time.

Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, made this known in a statement issued in Maiduguri.

He dismissed media report that the temporary halt of troops movement was intended to aid the escape of the faction Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, from the Sambisa Forest.

Nwachukwu said the ongoing clearance operation by troops under the operation Deep Punch II was being carried out according to official plans.

The deputy director described the media report as “frivolous” as it is capable of demoralising the troops and hampering progress of the ongoing exercise.

According to him, such misinformation does not reflect the strong character and courageous disposition of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole and it is untenable and misleading.

The army spokesman urged the public to disregard such information and cooperate with the military to enable it to succeed in its clearance campaign against the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents.

The statement of the Nigerian Army reads:

“The attention of Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole has been drawn to unfortunate mainstream and social media report insinuating that troops advance at the ongoing Operation Deep Punch II was deliberately halted to allow the escape of the purported Boko Haram terrorist faction leader, Abubakar Shekau in Sambisa forest. This is not true.

“Contrary to the mischievous allegations, no such order or directive was given by anybody to any of the units and formations in the operation.

“It is crucial to point out that there are several factors in planning and conduct of military operations, whether kinetic or otherwise.

“The ongoing Operation Deep Punch II, which is aimed at clearing Boko Haram insurgents from the Sambisa forest and the northern fringes of Lake Chad region, was planned to be executed in phases.

“It is a phase operation, therefore, requires that at a predetermined point or stage, troops will be halted either preparatory for transiting to another phase or the other depending on the threat situation.

“During the operation, troops’ movement could be put on halt when vehicles or other mobile equipment are bugged down due to the difficulty of the terrain and for recovery purposes.

“In military operations avenues are deliberately provided for troops to harbour, where they rest and carry out refitting of weapons and other equipment before resuming the operations.

“Additionally, booby traps and land mines could also compel advancing troops to halt to enable some specialized squad or scouts assess the situation before movement resume.

“These and several other factors could precipitate the halting of troops during operations.

“It is, therefore, very appalling and unimaginable that a fundamental operational procedure could be misinterpreted and be mischievously used as a psychological weapon to indirectly dampen the morale of our troops.”

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