The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, and the Chairman, Senate committee on Defence, Abubakar Kyari on Monday, disagreed on Boko Haram’s actual level of control of territory in Borno State.
At Monday’s special town hall meeting on military issues and security that held in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the defence minister said Boko Haram no longer controls any Nigerian territory.
Mr. Dan-Ali, a retired brigadier general, had while giving an overview of the progress made by the security agencies in the ongoing counterinsurgency operations, said prior to the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Boko Haram was controlling most of the local government areas of Borno.
“Today no local government area or any part of the Nigeria territories is under the control of Boko Haram”, he affirmed.
However, Mr. Kyari said a local government in his senatorial zone has not been totally liberated by Boko Haram.
Mr. Kyari, who represents Borno North senatorial district, which was completely overrun by Boko Haram, said he remained “a federal legislator whose constituency is still displaced.”
The lawmaker said though some of the nine local government areas that form the constituency he represents have been partially liberated by the military, one council area is still under the control of Boko Haram.
“I still remain a displaced senator because my entire constituency has been displaced by Boko Haram”, he said.
“In 2015, my entire constituency, except for Gubio and two other local government areas were displaced; I was elected by votes cast from IDP camps.”
He said a local government area like Marte “has not been totally liberated.”
He said Boko Haram are still holding forth in Marte and urged the military to step up its efforts in clearing the remnants of Boko Haram.
Mr. Kyari also expressed worry that access to some of the liberated communities had been very difficult, not only due to pockets of attacks from the Boko Haram, but also by the military whose stringent control measures make commercial activities very difficult to carry out.
“Those communities that had been liberated are still having some challenges like restriction of commercial activities in markets and farms,” he said.
Mr. Kyari who also represented the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the town hall meeting, called on the federal government to address “the food needs of those displaced Nigerians that are taking refuge in neighbouring African countries of Cameroon and Chad.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had earlier informed the delegates at the town hall meeting that over 300, 000 displaced people fled their homes in Borno to other neighbouring countries.