The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Wednesday said ground troops had blocked movement of Boko Haram terrorists in and out of Sambisa forest.
Buratai stated this while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after monitoring troops’ deployment at Banki junction in Borno.
He said that ongoing “Operation Crack Down’’ had been successful as the troops were making steady progress in dismantling the remaining Boko Haram hideouts in Sambisa.
“The troops are doing very well; they had some challenges in terms of encounters with the terrorists in the theatre but that is being tackled.
“The troops are forming a blocking force to prevent the terrorists from moving into Sambisa or coming out of the area.
“I am here to see the ground forces and how they are doing; so far so good, but there is tremendous operation going on presently inside the main Sambisa forest,’’ he said.
He also said that he was at Banki to confirm the movement of troops and equipment and to observe the situation in the “theatre’’.
Buratai said that the location of troops at Banki junction was significant in the military operations to restrict movement of the insurgents from outside the country through Cameroon or Chad.
“We were together with the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Air Staff in Maiduguri where the theatre commander briefed us on the ongoing operation crack down.
“This Banki junction is a major route that links the north to the south and is also bordering Cameroon; it is also a link to Chad Republic.
“It is a major route which the Boko Haram insurgents have been using to move between the Sambisa forest and the northern part of the country, up to the Lake Chad waters.
“So, it is an important location which has tactical, strategic as well as operational significance to what we are doing in this region,’’ he said.
The army chief said that ground troops supported by Nigerian Air Force fighter jets would continue to hit the forest until the insurgents were eventually cleared.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, the Army and Air Force chiefs met behind closed doors in Maiduguri on Monday to appraise the Sambisa operation.
At the end of the meeting, Olonisakin briefed newsmen and expressed satisfaction with the operation.
NAN reports that the Sambisa forest operation tagged `Operation Crack Down’ commenced with ground and air forces on April 27, 2016.