International observers from northeast re-affirm Nigerian Army’s control of recovered territories

International observers from northeast re-affirm Nigerian Army’s control of recovered territories

- Some group of observers have visited the northeast region to access effort of the Nigerian Army in curbing terrorists' activities

- The observers from all works of life said the Army has made the northeast impenetrable for Boko Haram Terrorists to seize any of its territory again

- According to the observers, the observation was made during a 10-days tour in the region

A team of international observers made up of journalists, CSOs, NGOs and social media influencers have commended the Nigerian Army for making the northeast impenetrable for Boko Haram Terrorists to seize any of its territory again.

The team at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, October 5, said a fact finding mission report on the activities of Boko Haram in Gundunbali, Damask and Garshigar of Borno state showed that terrorists cannot take any territory in the region again.

The leader of the team, Daniel Furnard, said the group decided to embark on a 10-day tour of the areas following the avalanche of conflicting reports emanating from the northeast.

He said the team leaders who had worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for over 20 years said the tour has put to end speculations about developments in the area. 

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Furnard said: "A team of international journalists including, Francois Deburo, local journalists, humanitarian workers and a coalition of civil society organisations undertook a tour of some communities in Borno state in a bid to form an independent assessment of the operations of the Nigeria military, the current state of the war against insurgency and conflicting reports in the media."

He noted that the team is also made up of various organisations like Victims and Disaster Management Initiative (VDMI), Peace Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Initiative (PRRI), Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency as well as participants drawn from various media houses in Nigeria, as well as selected social media influencers in the country. 

"It suffices to state that the overarching objective of the tour was to put paid to speculations about Boko Haram occupying territories in some communities in North East Nigeria after some attempts by the terrorists to invade Nigerian communities under the control of the Nigerian Army.

"Consequently, the team decided that there would be no military escort for the duration of the project," Furnard said.

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 He said the team was on the ground for one week beginning from 25th September to October 4th, 2018. 

"In the course of the trip, the members of the group were divided into clusters and each with a local tour guide that assisted with language barrier challenge. Each cluster visited communities and observed their daily activities whilst all the activities were videoed and pictures collected . 

"The team discovered that there is no territory under the control of Boko Haram terrorists anywhere within the geographical entity called Nigeria. Using the case of Garshigar as an example, the town enjoys relative peace," he said.

He also said that the team interacted with soldiers from Nigeria Army’s 145 battalions on the ground who gave insights into their operations in these communities.

"In the case of Garshigar, it was gathered that Boko Haram terrorists have made several attempts to gain entry into the town, but were repelled by the Nigeria Army.

One of the commanders of the 145 Battalion also hinted that some years back, Garshigar used to serve as one of the training bases of the Boko Haram terrorists until the Nigeria Army dislodged them, hence the repeated attempt to attack the community, but the Nigeria Army has always repelled them.

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"Damasak is bustling with economic activities, so much so that people from neighbouring communities of Dogomolu, Douro, and Chemba frequent Damasak to trade. There was also a strong military presence in the town at strategic places. Upon interacting with the indigenes’, they heaped praises on the efforts of soldiers in the military base stationed in Damasak. 

"The team also observed a high return rate of people that were once displaced by Boko Haram terrorist in times past. Also, there are lots of construction works ongoing in homes and schools. There was also a high presence of humanitarian workers providing health services in the rebuilt general hospital. 

In Gudumbali, the story is also the same as that of Garshigar, where Boko Haram terrorists have made several attempts to gain entry into the town. It was discovered that two weeks earlier, (September 8) there was an attempt by the Boko Haram terrorist to attack the town, but they met stiff resistance from the Nigeria Army. Scores of indigenes were seen going about their regular business.

There was also a heightened security presence in the community which is as a result of the constant attempts by dissident Boko Haram terrorist to launch an attack in the town," he concluded.

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Meanwhile, previously reported that a survey has shown that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) has said.

UBEC said although the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government in 2015 shows the 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school, the new survey which is yet to be made official shows that an increase of 2.7 million.

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