The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has debunked the notion that the military engagement in the South-East is targeted against the people, labelling it as false.
The military boss also dismissed claims by Afenifere that terrorists had infiltrated Abuja.
He said bandits were fleeing North-West, adding that the six remaining Tucano jets would arrive in the country in October.
Irabor’s reaction is coming on the heels of accusations against the Armed Forces over its alleged “harsh treatment” of the people of the South-East.
He stated this on Thursday at the ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Irabor said, “Our operations in the South-East are meant to protect the territorial integrity of the country and to intervene in internal matters of unrest. It is in no way partisan or discriminatory or targeted at the people as some might think.
“Our operation there is still ongoing and will end only after we are satisfied with the state of peace.”
Responding to a question on why the Federal Government was negotiating with bandits in the North-West and rehabilitating repentant Boko Haram members while it scales up military operations in the South-East, he said, “What you find in the South-East is different from what is obtainable in the North.”
On Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, Irabor said, “Sheikh Gumi is not working for the government. For me as an individual, I may not speak on whether I share the same views with him. That’s not the issue. The point is he is an individual. He is a person and he represents a group of people that thinks he should use that approach to meet with the bandits.”
On the issues raised by Afenifere, he said that he only saw it as a social media report, adding, “That report is not true. It is not a true report.”
The CDS also said, “The remaining six of the Tucano jets from the United States will arrive in the country on October 28.”
He added that the major operation areas of bandits were North-West although some have relocated to North-Central.
“A larger percentage of the bandits have left the North-West. We’re having inroads to the North-Central. We’re taking measures to ensure that they don’t spread beyond the known locations.
“But I must say that terrorism is not confined to bandits alone. This is the reason why when we speak on issues of national security, we also place our neighbours in context.”
Asked whether the ISWAP leader, Abu Musab was dead, Irabor said, “Of course I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead and remains dead.”
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