By Samuel Malik
The Nigerian military has announced that it has successfully taken over Gwoza in Borno State which was one of the last of the territories under the control of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents.
Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan had few days ago promised the military would soon reclaim Gwoza, the purported headquarters and seat of the insurgents’ caliphate.
A statement issued by Chris Olukolade, the defence spokesman, said on Friday that heavy casualties were inflicted on the insurgents who were dislodged through ground and air operations.
“Just this morning, the gallant troops of the Nigerian military in a concerted and well-coordinated land and air operations have liberated Gwoza, the headquarters of their so called caliphate which they renamed ‘darul hikima’, the statement read.
“This was preceded by successive sack of terrorists from towns and villages leading to Gwoza, the main objective. Several of the terrorists have died and many of them captured in the process. A lot of arms and ammunition have been recovered and the administrative Headquarters completely destroyed,” he said further.
The defence spokesman said that as is usual with recaptured territories, a cordon and search operation had commenced to locate any of the fleeing terrorists or hostages in their custody.
Olukolade said it was anticipated that fleeing insurgents would make for border communities as they face the Nigerian troops’ onslaught but assured that “the fleeing terrorists will expectedly run into subsequent encounter with contingents of partners in the Multinational Joint Task Force who have been mandated to contain them accordingly.”
According to the Defence Headquarters, the coalition force under the umbrella of Multi-National Joint Task Force – Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon – is responsible for the success witnessed against the group.
“The recent reinvigoration of a partnership between Nigeria and these neighbouring countries under the auspices of Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) provided the desired response to the challenge, as these border areas that hitherto served as hideouts for the terrorists have been actively dominated by troops in the MNJTF.”
Gwoza had been under the control of Boko Haram since early August of 2014 and the operation to reclaim it was seen as the final push by the military against the insurgents.
However, nothing was reported by the military about a report published on Wednesday by the icirnigeria.org indicating that more than 200 girls abducted from a school in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 are being help in Gwoza.
A woman who was recently released by Boko Haram insurgents told this website that she was held in Gwoza where she lent that the Chibok girls were being held close by in a tightly guarded house.
The 56 year old woman, Mbutu Papka, said that she learnt that the girls were housed in a fenced house which was heavily guarded by armed men round the clock.