Military counters Boko Haram claim of killing Borno farmers

The Defence Headquarters, Thursday said Boko Haram’s claim of being responsible for the killing of rice farmers in Borno State is a fallacy aimed at instilling fear in people.

Coordinator, Defence Military Operations (DMO) Major General John Enenche, made the statement while addressing journalists at a weekly press briefing on the operations of the armed forces in Abuja.

He dismissed the claim by the Boko Haram terrorists that the recent massacre of rice farmers in Borno was retaliation for the arrest of one of them.

The terrorist group had on Tuesday released a video claiming that the terrorists carried out the massacre in retaliation for the arrest of one of them by the farmers. But the military said the claim was untrue.

He said that the information received by the military from one of the survivors revealed that the farmers were called for a meeting with the terrorists on the sad day before they were slaughtered.

Enenche said the claim was the practice of the sect with the sole motive of instigating fear in the minds of the people to discourage them from cooperating with the security agencies.

“The truth is that whenever they are losing ground as a result of the military activities, this is what they resort to,” Enenche said.

“It is a fallacy because we killed one of them and that the farmers gave information about them, but the likelihood is wickedness.

“They want to use that to instil fear in the minds of the people because they have seen the governor trying to make sure that people return to their homes.”

On the recent call to recruit foreign mercenaries to combat insurgents, Enenche said the military cannot decide for the Federal Government.

Borno State governor Babagana Zulum recently appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to engage the services of foreign mercenaries in flushing out Boko Haram from Nigeria.

Zulum made the appeal while receiving a federal government’s delegation who were in the state to sympathise with them over the massacre of some rice farmers in Jere Local Government Area.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration used foreign mercenaries, including South Africans, against Boko Haram; mainly in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The mercenaries are believed to have contributed to the successes the military recorded in the few weeks leading to the 2015 general election. The Buhari administration, however, jettisoned the use of mercenaries, promising to equip and empower the Nigerian military to defeat the insurgents.

Enenche said the Nigerian military has evolved over time, saying “The armed forces we have 150 years ago is not the same with what we have now.

“I want to say that the kind of armed forces and security agencies we have now is normally determined by the people. It is not in our powers to say yes or no. So it is what the government want. It is not for the military to join issues or begin to contest.

“The armed forces we have 150 years ago is not the same with what we have now, if you ask any military man, that is the response they will give you. I want to assume that is the best practice in the whole world.

“There is no Army, Navy and Air Force that will tell the people they are serving how they want to operate. In tackling security challenges like this, it is what the people decide. Be that that as it may, it is the request, it is not absolute and they did not say, do it now. They are presenting it and calling on the relevant agencies which of cause involves the legislature and other people in the National Security Council to deliberate on it.

“Our message here to the general public is that they should not be discouraged and that we are moving forward and with your cooperation, we are going to end this menace,” Enenche said.

Enenche said the military had sustained its onslaught against the terrorists through both ground and air offensives across the theatre of operation.

He said the troops had raided some of the identified hideouts of the terrorists killing scores during the week and recovered a cache of arms and ammunition.

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