Chief of Army Staff visits Baga; ...rewards triumphant soldiers with promotion

Barely one week after the Nigerian military recaptured Baga in Borno State, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Kenneth Minimah, on Wednesday said victory could still be achieved over the Boko Haram insurgents before the elections scheduled to start March 28.

Minimah, who was in Baga town in Kukawa Local Government Area to boost the morale of the troops, said the Nigerian military would not rest until Boko Haram is completely flushed out of the North-east, promising that all officers and soldiers who participated in the recapture of Baga would be promoted.

Baga was attacked for three successive days by the terrorists early last month, leading to its capture and death of hundreds of residents.

Satellite imagery released by Amnesty International (AI) last month showed the level of destruction in Baga after the onslaught by the Islamist group.

The COAS, who said he was impressed with what the troops had achieved, assured journalists in Maiduguri after his visit to Baga that the displaced residents of reclaimed communities could go back to vote during the general election.
Minimah said: “It is achievable to end Boko Haram activities very soon because we are still within the six-week timeframe. But we should not see the six weeks as a final date for the end to hostilities.

“This is a war and we will try and do whatever possible to liberate more areas so that displaced citizens can go and resettle and possibly vote during the elections.”
In Baga, the COAS had told the troops that President Goodluck Jonathan and all Nigerians were proud of them.
“My visit here is a confidence-building trip and is meant to inform you that all Nigerians are singing your praises for your courage and urge you to you keep up the tempo. You have made Nigerians proud.

“From today, it will never be possible for the insurgents to take hold of any of our territories. Today it is going to be victory all the way because the war is almost ended.

“From here we move to retake Gwoza, Marte and Madagali. With this, there is going to be no more Boko Haram; the slogan is ‘never again’ and even the president shares in this slogan,” he informed the troops.
The COAS also announced that every soldier who had participated in the liberation of Baga would get instant promotion to the next rank.
“As a way of commending your courage and patriotism, every soldier who participated in the Baga operation, whether dead or alive has been promoted to the next rank,” said Minimah.
Expectedly, the officers and soldiers were jubilant as they conducted the COAS and his team to parts of the town where he inspected some of the weapons and vehicles seized from the dislodged terrorists.

Credit: Michael Olugbode/ThisDay