The Theatre Commander of the military campaign, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, on Wednesday, showed journalists aerial footage he said was filmed during attack on Sambisa Forest that showed the terrorists moving with women and children.
“The haggard fighters were just using them as a shield,” Irabor said at a news conference in Maiduguri.
Irabor added, “That is why we did not engage them from the air. We had always believed and hoped that going into the Sambisa Forest would afford us the opportunity to get the remaining Chibok girls. What we can’t tell is whether those women we can see were the Chibok girls.”
The terrorists had kidnapped more than 200 girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.
President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday that the terrorists’ last enclave in the forest had been captured.
Irabor said the military was pursuing those who fled, adding that 1,240 people, suspected to be militants, their relatives or sympathisers, had been arrested in the past one week.
Meanwhile, the Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society has hailed the military for the recapture of the Sambisa Forest from Boko Haram, urging the military to sustain the war against the sect.
The group, in a statement by its President, Kameel Bolarinwa, asked the Federal Government to ensure improved welfare for the military personnel to boost their morale.
The statement added, “The fall of Sambisa Forest in the hands of our soldiers inevitably signposts a great landmark in the fight against terrorism in this country.
“Kudos must also be given to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for boosting the morale of the Army in terms of provision of the military equipment and adequate welfare, which assisted the Army to re-engineer its operations and strategies.
“The Army must be adequately funded such that no soldier, who is risking his life for peace and unity of our nation, is made to suffer any deprivation, hardship or denial of his entitlement.”
NASFAT, however, warned the military against complacency, adding that concerted efforts must be made to consolidate on the achievement.
“It is against this backdrop that we are gladdened by the decision of the leadership of the Nigerian Army to turn the forest to a training ground for the force,” the statement said.