Military Declares Kidnappers Terrorists Not Bandits, Urges Nigerians to Avoid Being Used by Them on Social Media Directly or Indirectly

The Military on Thursday has declared kidnappers terrorists, and not bandits for holding citizens against their will and against all norms of human behaviour, and against the laws of armed conflict and any good measure in the world. No doubt , this is a difficult situation, but not one that is insurmountable.

Director Defence Media Operations, Maj. General Edward Buba made the declaration today, 14th March 2024 at the bi-weekly press briefing on the ongoing counterinsurgency war as the military is enduring defeat of terrorist groups across the country and the dismantling of their military capabilities, such that they can no longer terrorize or hurt citizens. 

Maj. General Buba lamented cases of citizens being abducted in the North East, North West and North Central theatres of operations. "These citizens were abducted by a brutal and blood tasty group that should only be addressed as terrorist, and not bandits. I repeat, these are terrorist and not bandits."

He said the hostage situation is an extremely sensitive one which unfortunately is not unprecedented in the history of the ongoing war. These hostages are being held in locations that are difficult to get to, but not out of reached. The situation is however indicative of the desperation of these terrorist to detour troops onslaught by all means.

According to Maj. General Buba three major significant abduction cases which includes on 9 March 2024, terrorist invaded and kidnapped 16 pupils (Almajiris) with a woman in Gada LGA of Sokoto State. The incident which took place about 0100hrs was not reported to troops until about 1500hrs of same day. The late reporting of the incident affected troops response time in the ongoing search and rescue effort.  

 Also on 3 March 2024, troops received information from coordinator Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) about suspected abduction of unknown number of IDPs by suspected terrorists in Gamboru Ngala LGA of Borno State.

Preliminary investigation revealed that IDPs left camp to undisclosed location to fetch firewood beyond the permissible distance. They reportedly did not notify the camp authorities of their movement. It was later at about 2030hrs at night, when the IDPs did not return to camp that alarm was raised as to their possible abduction by terrorist. 

It was at that stage that troops were notified of the incident. The standard practice was for troops to be notified prior to any movement of IDPs beyond the permissible distance of 5-7 kms from their camp. He IDPs reportedly went beyond the permissible distance to get firewood as a result of deforestation around their camp. The terrorist abducted 112 IDPs in the process. Nevertheless, effort is ongoing to get back the hostages. 

And another abduction Case on 7 March 2024, troops received information that terrorists had invaded LEA School in Chikun LG of Kaduna State and abducted unconfirmed number of pupils. 

The incident was not reported until several hours after the occurrence. The delayed reporting of the incident adversely affected troops response time in the ongoing search and rescue effort. 

These abduction cases were carried out due to  cowardice exhibited by terrorist going for such soft targets to impede troops advances. "I assure you that we will not rest until they are returned because in recent times troops have decimated several of the terrorist leaders, commander and foot soldiers in and fast closing in one several others."

Given the hostage situation, it can be deduced that the search and rescue effort was grossly affected by the none timely notification of troops of the incident. Nevertheless, I can assure you that we will not rest until these hostages are returned.

However,because of the sensitivity of the matter, I can not go into further details as to signs of life, location, and the different options that we have in order to get these hostages back.

He further assured that, getting these hostages back is very clearly on the top of military priorities. "It is for this reason we have leveraged on our international partners for support. Accordingly, they are providing the necessary support including intelligence that is giving us the advantage in dealing with the ugly situation.

He stressed that, as it is often said, we are at war and ugly things happen during war. During times of war, it is common place to witnness propaganda, deception, misinformation, disinformation and fake news. Our situation is no different.

He therefore stressed the need for citizens to be able circumspect when they see post from these terrorist groups and their cohorts, particularly on social media. These groups feed on the attention that they receive in the media to sway the populace. We must be conscious of that and avoid being used directly or indirectly a[gainst our national interest.

"Of recent, these terrorist initiated a post that went viral on the attack of military vehi.cles. It might interest you to know that, that particular incident was reported when it occurred in Dec 2023. One soldier lost his life as a result of the attack. Afterward, troops conducted synchronised attacks killing the leader of that group and several of his foot soldiers.

"The post therefore is clearly an act of desperation by the terrorist to conceal their weakness. Overall, We are winning the war and making life unbearable for these terrorist. We continue to degrade them each passing day. We have seriously depleted their ranks to the extent that they are on a desperate recruitment drive, hence some of the witnessed abductions.

"Several of their leaders and commanders have been neutralised as a result of troops onslaught. They want to use these hostages as human shield for their survival. Nevertherless, be assured that we will not rest until the hostages are returned.

"As patriotic citizens, we must resist the temptation to celebrate post from terrorist and enemies of the state. These are not good people, rather they are devils from the pit of hell. Consequently, If you find yourself celebrating terror, you’re wrong. Pure and simple." he noted

Meanwhile, during the week under review, Maj Gen Buba revealed that troops neutralised 213 and arrested 216 of them. Troops also arrested 67 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 26 kidnapped hostages. In the SS, troops denied the oil theft of the estimated sum of One Billion Five Hundred and Fifty Eighty Million Six Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand and Eighty Naira (N1,558,665,080.00) only.

He added that troops recovered 189 assorted weapons and 4,003 assorted ammunition. The breakdown as follows: 111 AK47 rifles, G3 rifle, 31 locally fabricated guns, 5 pump action guns, automatic pump action guns, 26 dane guns, 4 locally made double barrels, 2 fabricated pistols, RPG bomb and IEDs (OGBUNIGWE).

He said troops in the Niger Delta area discovered and destroyed 150 dugout pits, 30 boats, 73 storage tanks, 209 drums and 15 vehicles. Other items recovered incl 105 cooking ovens, 3 pumping machines, 2 outboard engines, one tricycle, 4 motorcycles and 45 illegal refining sites. Troops recovered 1,227,470 litres of stolen crude oil, 313,780 litres of illegally refined AGO and 13,000 litres of PMS. 

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