Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the death of three military personnel on Monday in Borno was “wake-up call’’ for the army to further strategise to defeat terrorists.
He stated this at the burial of Lt.-Col. Ibrahim Aminu, Cpl. Jibril Ahmadu and Lance Cpl. Tijjani Mohammed, at the Maimalari Cantonment Cemetery in Maiduguri on Tuesday.
Aminu, the Commanding Officer, 145 Task Force Battalion and the two soldiers died on Monday when, during patrol, their vehicle ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by Boko Haram insurgents. The device exploded.
The incident occurred at Mauli-Borgozo axis in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno.
Buratai said “this threat, IEDs, is real but we are taking all measures to ensure that we counter it.
“The challenge that we are having in the North-East has always been the enemy action, either through encounter or Improvised Explosive Device being exploded on our troops, and today’s burial is one of those incidents that involve IED.
“This is a situation that will require us to be vigilant at all times and to ensure that we protect ourselves from this menace of the IEDs.’’
He described the death of the officer and soldiers as “highly unfortunate and regrettable’’.
“Today, it is with heavy heart that we bury our colleagues who paid the supreme sacrifice in course of duty.
“It is a great loss; we will miss them.
“Let me pay my condolences to the families of the late lieutenant-colonel and two soldiers, and indeed all of us – officers and men of Operation Lafiya Dole and Nigerian army,’’ Buratai lamented.
Meanwhile, the Control and Command Centre of the Operation Lafiya Dole, had on Monday unveiled a device to counter IEDs, as part of the measures to tackle the challenge.
The device, a padded roller supported by plate, weighing about 280 kilogrammes and attached to heavy duty truck, is capable of detecting and safely detonating IED.
And, in case the device goes off, the plate protects the vehicle and troops.
At the unveiling in Maiduguri, Buratai assured that apart from the roller, Nigerian Army Manufacturing Company was developing a similar device which would be mass produced “as soon as we get it correct.’’
He said that the device, when produced, would be used to counter the threat of IED.
On general security in the North-East, the army chief said that the situation was improving, but expressed worry about the terrorists’ resilience.
According to him they still move around causing havoc and sometimes attacking military locations.
He charged troops to sit up and deal with the terrorists, who he described as “criminal elements bent on destabilising the country and make life difficult for the citizens’’.
“We should not allow them to triumph over us.
“This should never be allowed to happen and therefore, we must make sure that we deal with them decisively and to do that, we must remain alert, conscious of our environment and must be vigilant all times.
“What is required now is just vigilance.
“We must ensure that all suspicious movements in and around locations are reported or actions are taken and arrest made. This will help us in this operation,’’ he said.
Buratai said that efforts were being made to procure required equipment and platforms for the ongoing operations, adding very soon, the first set of consignment would be delivered to the army.
He said that the equipment would greatly help to address some of the gaps observed in operations.
He disclosed that the military was taking “some strong and decisive measures’’ to checkmate the activities of the “Boko Haram jihadists’’.
The COAS urged citizens, especially Borno and Yobe states people, to be patient with whatever steps being taken to contain the terrorists.
“There may be some inconveniences; it is for the good of all of us, people of Borno and Yobe, and indeed, all Nigerians,’’ he said.