U.S.-General-counters-Buhari-says-Boko-Haram-still-holds-territory-in-NigeriaCommander of the U.S. Africa Command, USAFRICOM, David Rodriguez, has dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari’s claims that Boko Haram no longer holds any territory in Nigeria, stating that Buahri’s statement was far from the truth.
Rodriguez’s assertion comes almost two months after President Buhari told the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon, that the terrorist group was no longer “holding any territory as we speak”.
It would be recalled that Buhari made the claims at the World Future Energy Summit in the UAE, asserting that the Nigerian Armed Forces in collaboration with the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNTJF, had driven the terrorist group from Nigerian territory into “fall-back positions”.
Rodriguez, who spoke Tuesday in response to a question on Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram by Senator Angus King of Maine during testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee reviewing fiscal year 2017 defence budget, said, “actually sir, Boko Haram does hold some significant territory in Northern Nigeria as do Al-Shabaab in limited areas of Somalia”.
But he did not elaborate on Boko Haram’s operations, adding in his written testimony to the Senate Committee that containing and degrading the ISIL-affiliated Boko Haram remains one of AFRICOM’s top priority.
He spoke before the Senate committee with Generals Lloyd Austin of U.S. Central Command and Joseph Votel of U.S. Special Operations Command and assured that efforts are on to assist Africa conquer terrorism.
“We are watching carefully for signs that the threat posed by Boko Haram to U.S. persons is growing as a result of the group’s alignment with ISIL,” he said and praised MNJTF allies and partners for engaging in the counter-Boko Haram effort.
“Our engagement now can assist our African partners in realising their potential and gaining the capability to solve African problems,” Rodriguez said. “African solutions to African problems are, in the long run, in the best interest of Africans, Americans, and indeed the world.”
General Rodriguez’s testimony came a couple of weeks after the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade at the United States Congress also convened hearings where two policy experts urged the US government to ramp up the push against Boko Haram.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday recalls that series of attacks by Boko Haram invalidated claims by President Buhari that the insurgent group had been degraded and its activities drastically reduced.
For instance, at least 85 people were killed in a weekend late January in Dalori some 12 kilometres from Maiduguri, Borno State, while displaced persons have publicly countered Buhari’s statement by pointing out two local government areas in the firm control of the insurgents.
The Senator representing Borno Central, Senator Baba Kaka Garba, had claimed that the state was substantially under the control of the insurgents, same as two soldiers involved in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram had debunked government claims that the sect was virtually defeated.
The two soldiers were recorded speaking in an audio message, during which one of them named Sule claimed that Boko Haram was still in possession of large swathes of territory. That was later corroborated by some IDPs, who asserted that two local government areas were under the firm control of Boko Haram.
These claims seem to command some credibility as the sect has in recent times attacked places in Borno and are said to be flexing muscles in Gworza, Bamali and other places. Only Wednesday, a senator alerted the National Assembly that Boko Haram was almost taking over parts of Taraba State as they harassed, intimidate and carry out wanton destruction of properties at will.
President Buhari had initially promised to terminate Boko Haram in July 2015, and then shifted the date to October and later December. Though the sect sustained its attacks in Borno and Adamawa, the federal government declared that the insurgent group had been conquered even as members of the public wondered aloud about the authenticity of the claims.
So far, Boko Haram insurgency has killed some 250,000 people and forced more than 2.6 million to flee their homes since 2009. The group, which seeks to impose strict sharia law in mainly-Muslim northern Nigeria, has also made cross border attacks into Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

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