The military high command has confirmed that scores of Boko Haram terrorists fleeing intense land and air offensive against their hideouts and camps in the North-East were infiltrating the North-West and North-Central, emboldening armed banditry and other crimes.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, who confirmed the movement of terrorists to the zones, noted that the type of weaponry found with the bandits such as anti-aircraft gun, PKT gun capable of shooting down an aircraft, was an indication that some Boko Haram criminals might have relocated to the North-West and North-Central.
He said, “In the past, the highest weapon found among bandits was the GPMG guns and AK 47 rifles because what they are known for is stealing of cows and rams. But now, they are in possession of AA and PKT guns which can be used to bring down an aircraft.
“It is no hidden fact that these are weapons used by Boko Haram terrorists got from neighbouring West African countries.”
Speaking on the withdrawal of military from checkpoints across the country, which is capable of opening the way for terrorists and bandits fleeing military offensives to freely relocate to other parts of the country, Enenche said it was due to complaints of Nigerians especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.
He added, “But other than the checkpoints, the military still conducts snap checks on the roads to ensure criminal elements don’t have freedom of movement. It is not that the military is completely withdrawn.
“The troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have continued to exhibit sustained resilience in the fight against terrorism in the North-East zone of the country.
‘’This has been evident in their recent encounters with the BHT/ISWAP elements across the North-East theatre of operation. During the period, troops’ encounters with the criminal elements resulted in the destruction of their structures and equipment, as well as the capture of arms and ammunition.
“Our gallant troops also rescued some hostages, with some criminal elements surrendering to the troops. Within the period, the ground troops of Operation Lafiya Dole had no fewer than 17 encounters with the BHT/ISWAP criminals in the North-East theatre of operation.”