The Nigerian Army has denied reports that it deliberately halted the ongoing Operation DEEP PUNCH II to allow the escape of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in Sambisa forest, saying “this is not true”
In a statement issued on Friday by Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations of Operation LAFIYA DOLE theatre command, the army maintained that “no such order or directive was given by anybody to any of the units and formations on that operation”.
According to the army, “the ongoing Operation DEEP PUNCH II, which is aimed at clearing Boko Haram insurgents from the Sambisa forest and the northern fringes of Lake Chad region, was planned to be executed in phases”.
The statement explained that “it is a phased operation and therefore requires that at a predetermined point or stage, troops will be halted either preparatory to transiting to another phase or outrightly transiting depending on the threat situation”.
“Secondly, during the operations, troops advance could be halted when vehicles or other mobile equipment are bugged down due to the difficulty of the terrain and for recovery purposes. More also and very importantly too, in military operations avenues are deliberately provided for troops to habour, where they rest and carry out refitting of weapons and other equipment before resuming the operations.
“Additionally, booby traps and land mines could also compel an advancing troop to halt to enable some specialized squad, scout and assess the situation before movement resumes. These and several other factors could precipitate the halting of troops during operations.
“It is therefore very appalling and unimaginable that a fundamental operational procedure could be misinterpreted and be mischievously used as a psychological weapon to indirectly dampen the morale of our troops”, the statement said.
The Theatre Command blasted the “phony publication” that it intended to aid Shekau’s escape, stating that it “considers it a psychological warfare on troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE”.
The army enjoined members of the public to “discountenance this misinformation as it is untenable and does not reflect the strong chararacter and courageous disposition of troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE”