The Nigerian military says it is implementing new measures against Boko Haram following an order by President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday to defeat the Islamist militant group within the next three months.
Colonel Rabe Abubakar, acting director defense information made the comments after Buhari swore in new senior military officers in Abuja
The new service chiefs include General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Defense Staff Lt. General T.Y. Buratai, Chief of Army Staff Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff, and Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff.
Abubakar says the military is ready to step up efforts to defeat the militants.
“This is [a] presidential directive, and the Nigerian military has worked out all modalities to ensure that Boko Haram is no more in this country. And I believe we can attain that time frame if the equipment [is] there, which we know are available. We are doing everything possible to achieve that three months mandate,” he said.
Abubakar added “It is something that must be complied with. There have been collaborations with other stakeholders from other nations; [including] Chad, Cameroon, and even Niger. So, with this effort, collaboration [and] with these bilateral agreements, Boko Haram would be crushed before that three months.”
Critics have questioned the president’s three-month directive. They contend that the same military has been battling Boko Haram for the last five years and has yet to completely defeat them despite recent successes.
Abubakar disagreed with the critics. He said the military recently intensified pressure on the militants and has seized territories Boko Haram used to control. He added that in some instances, civilians kidnapped by the militants have been freed.
“You will agree with me that Boko Haram’s central command has been completely wiped out," he said. "These guys are in disarray, they are completely uncoordinated and the center of gravity of Boko Haram has been completely crushed. What remains is just to chase them and then finish them and then we all have peace and stability in our nation, and that is exactly what we are doing.”
Abubakar said the military seeks information from citizens in areas the militants often attack in order to help with the efforts to combat Boko Haram.
“Security is everybody’s responsibility. The synergy is now between the military and the public," he said. "The public has a duty to give us timely information regarding the activities of these people because these people are human beings like others they are not spirits…We will crush them once and for all because this is the last lap of the insurgents.”