The Nigerian Army on Friday admitted carrying out a cordon and search operation at a building housing staffers of the United Nations, UN, in Maiduguri but said it was in response to alert on high-profile Boko Haram members.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had disclosed that members of the Nigerian security forces earlier on Friday entered its base for humanitarian workers in Maiduguri, without authorization.
United Nations expressed serious concern “that these actions could be detrimental to the delivery of lifesaving aid to the millions of vulnerable people in the northeast of Nigeria”.
But the Nigeria Army, in a statement issued by the spokesperson, 7 Division, Lt. Col. Samuel Kingsley, explained that it has intensifies condone and search operations within Maiduguri metropolis and its environs to clear remnants of Boko Haram insurgents.
The statement issued on behalf of the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole and made available to journalist in Maiduguri explained that the operations became expedient because the, “Theatre Command received credible information from one of its credible sources that some high value BHT suspects had infiltrated into Pompomari Bye-pass”, of Maiduguri metropolis.
The statement also noted that the search operation was carried out in 29 houses in the general area including a building hosting United Nations staff.
The UN building is said to belong to the late Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Mala Kachalla.
The statement read in full:
“As part of ongoing counter insurgency operations, the Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE has been conducting several clearance as well as cordon and search operations in urban and rural areas within the Theatre. The clearance operations effort has been yielding several successes. It has forced the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) to change tactics and resort to employment of suicide bombers to target military locations and the populace. This necessitated the need to intensify Cordon and Search in Maiduguri metropolis and environment.
“In the last one week cordon and search operations were conducted in Jiddari –Polo, Muna Garage, Jakana amongst several other areas. On 10th August 2017, Theatre Command received information from one of its credible sources that some high value BHT suspects had infiltrated into Pompomari Bye Pass. It therefore became expedient to take preemptive action by combing the general area through a cordon and search operations. The operation was successfully conducted as over 30 houses were searched. One of such included a property which was said to be occupied by United Nations Staff, although the property did not carry a UN designation. On the whole, operation in the general area was successfully concluded but no arrest was made because the suspects were not found.
“The command wishes to assure the general public that these operations are being conducted to safeguard lives and properties but not targeted at any individual or group. The general public is cautioned to avoid peddling rumors which may cause disaffection and to remain law abiding”.
The statement of the army is coming on the wake of wild rumors on the social media in Maiduguri that the leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau was arrested by troops in Maiduguri.
So far, no security source has confirmed the rumour of Shekau’s arrest.