Two strategic roads have been reopened after the recapture of the last Boko Haram stronghold in Sambisa Forest.
The Nigerian Army has moved fast to facilitate movements and business activities in the north-eastern state of Borno after dislodging Boko Haram insurgents from their last major stronghold in Sambisa Forest over the weekend. The Minister of Information, Alhadji Lai Mohammed, told the Nigerian Tribune newspaper in Lagos on December 26, 2016 that the Maiduguri-Gubio-Damasak and the Maiduguri-Mungono-Baga roads, which link Nigeria with neighbouring countries, were reopened.
The Minister said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, accompanied by top military brass, re-opened the on Christmas Day 2016. “This is very significant because the two major roads that were closed as a result of terrorist activities are of strategic importance to the economies of Lake Chad Basin nations,” Nigerian Tribune cited Lai Mohammed as explaining.
The Minister called for greater collaboration from the public to track down fleeing Boko Haram fighters. “Now that they have been dispossessed of their fortress, Boko Haram escapees will intensify their cowardly attacks on vulnerable targets to maintain an illusion of terror; but there should be no panic because the worst is over,” he assured.
Meanwhile, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai on December 26, 2016, disclosed that Sambisa Forest will henceforth serve as training ground for the Nigerian Army. The Chief of Army Staff was speaking in Damasak, Borno State, while celebrating Christmas with troops after the road leading to the town was reopened by Gov. Kashim Shettima three years after its closure. He said troops were already conducting mopping up operations in the forest after the last Boko Haram stronghold was captured.
“We are also opening up roads to Sambisa and Alagarno Forests. Sambisa Forest is going to be one of our training grounds. I have already directed that the Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship be conducted there next year,” he explained. “We are going to use the area to test fire our fighting vehicles, other key equipment and weapons.
It will afford us very good ground for basic and advanced tactics at the platoon, company, battalion, brigade and even division levels. We are going to make it more robust to ensure that terrorists do not return to the forest,” Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai promised.