Lt. General Tukur Buratai, chief of staff for the Nigerian army, declared over the weekend that his forces have defeated the ISIS-aligned Boko Haram terror gang.
AllAfrica reports the announcement came as Buratai was laying the foundation stone for a new brigade headquarters.
“The North East operation is critical at this stage. The terrorists have been defeated; these criminals may rear their ugly heads through other means. We will continue to maintain vigilance,” said Buratai. He went on to congratulate the brigade’s soldiers for their discipline, commitment, and professionalism.
The General may be getting a little ahead of himself, as it was only last week that American officials renewed a promise to work closely with the Nigerian military to defeat Boko Haram, presenting Nigerian military authorities in Lagos with 24 mine-resistant armored vehicles to help their troops deal with improvised explosive devices.
On January 3, CNN recalled Nigerian President Muhammdu Buhari’s pledge to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015, portraying it as a promise Buhari had failed to keep. Less than 48 hours after Buhari’s Christmas Eve claim the terrorist group had indeed been put down, some 50 people were killed in a wave of brutal attacks. As CNN noted, the Nigerians appeared to be equating the loss of territory by Boko Haram with defeat, not the neutralization of their capacity to launch terrorist attacks.
In fact, NDTV reports Boko Haram gunmen killed seven people in a raid in northeast Nigeria on Sunday evening, and burned down ten houses, once again striking within hours of a government claim to have defeated them.
On Tuesday, NAIJ printed a letter from a Nigerian soldier deployed against Boko Haram in Borno state, in what he described as the “very strong enclave” of Bita. He reported fending off a “heavy terrorist attack” over the weekend, as well as the ongoing slaughter of civilians, and described his unit as suffering from poor morale and a lack of much-needed air support.
“If we are not rotated by the time the soldiers revolt, we will ensure Boko Haram recaptures all the lost territories both in Adamawa and Maiduguri,” the Nigerian soldier warned. “Then they will know that Boko Haram is still very strong in Nigeria, and they will stop deceiving Mr President. However, let me tell you before God: if the Nigerian government is ready I bet that within a month we will wipe out these bastards.”