…Says no trace of Chibok girls in liberated towns.
By Nuel Suji, Abuja.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Kenneth Minimah, has dispelled rumour that mercenaries are fighting along the Nigerian troops in the battle against the Boko Karam insurgents.
Minimah, who spoke Tuesday at the end of the five hours Security Council meeting at the State House, Abuja, said the foreigners with the Nigerian Army are advisers and technicians engaged on the newly acquired military equipment.
“Whenever you have new equipment, the equipment comes with contract and the contract includes maintenance and the technicians that come with them are those that we hire,” the Chief of Army Staff said.
He told journalists that the meeting reviewed security situations in the troubled northeast area, particularly in the last three weeks, adding that the Council was impressed by the successes recorded by the Nigerian Armed forces.
He however said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) still has to evaluate the situation before deciding whether or not to proceed with elections in those areas, given the fact that the inhabitants of the liberated areas are yet to fully return.
According to Minimah, though the territories have been liberated from insurgents, structures of government and governance still needed to be restored.
Minimah also disclosed that the Council gave a vote of confidence on the military following the successful anti-terrorism operations in the north east with, only three local governments in Borno state remaining to be liberated from the clutches of Boko Haram.
“Council reviewed the north east operations, particularly in the last three weeks, and renewed its confidence in the Nigerian Armed Forces and commended them too.
“You know Yobe and Adamawa states have been liberated completely and we look forward to the reinstatement of structures of government and governance.
“I am also sure you know that in Borno State out of the 27 local governments we have three local governments remaining, namely, Abadam, Kalabaldi and Gwoza. And we are optimistic that with time we will liberate those local governments.
“I am not competent to speak on the elections. INEC is still there. INEC has to re-assess the situation and evaluate because the areas have been liberated.
“But I can also tell you that not all structures of governance have been reinstated and they will need to be reinstated so that citizens can go back to their areas and it is then I think they can execute their rights as voters. How soon? I don’t know,” he said.
Asked if the military operations could be concluded before March 28th, the army chief said, “It is our wish and we pray God gives that to us, but war is war. War sometimes is not fought on some platforms of permutations.”
Minimah further informed that the mop up operations in the liberated areas did not yield any clues as to whether the abducted Chibok girls were kept there before they moved.
“No news for now. In all the liberated areas we have, we have also made enquiries but the truth is when the terrorists are running away they also run with their families.
“And those we have come in contact with have not made any comments suggesting that the Chibok girls were there and taken away.
“But we are optimistic that as the war gets closer, the territory is becoming elusive to them (terrorists) and we will get further details on that,” Minimah added.