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Nigerian Official Says Military Maintains Control Despite Insurgency

FILE - Director of Defense Information Manjo Janar Chris Olukolade
FILE - Director of Defense Information Manjo Janar Chris Olukolade

The Nigerian military’s director of defense information said the army is in full control everywhere in the country, despite what he called misleading reports that the militant group Boko Haram prevails in Borno State.

General Chris Olukolade said Nigeria is collaborating with the militaries of neighboring countries within a multi-national joint task force.

Olukolade’s remarks followed a suicide bombing near a campaign rally attended by President Goodluck Jonathan in the northeast town of Gombe.

Jonathan had left before the blast occurred.

Olukolade said the military remains confident it can secure Nigeria for the coming February 14 election.

“First of all, I must make it clear, like I’ve said repeatedly, that every part of Nigeria is intact. We don’t accept any reference or claim to the fact that anyone holds control of any part thereof illegally,” he said.

Olukolade said, while there are areas in Nigeria where Boko Haram militants are heavily concentrated, the military is moving in those areas to clear the militants out.

“We are enjoying the collaboration and understanding, as well as support, of our neighboring countries and military organizations within the multi-national joint task force,” he said.

Following Monday’s suicide bomb blast, Olukolade said the military was trying to understand exactly what happened in Gombe.

“There’s a lot of anxiety that makes people present any situation as more untenable that it actually is. Until we hear the description of what actually happened from the police, we would rather say, ‘Let’s wait and see,’” he said.

Olukolade rejected criticism that the military has been ineffective and that whatever progress has been made against Boko Haram was made after the arrival of Chadian forces.

He said Nigeria had asked Chad to dislodge Boko Haram militants from their safe havens on Chadian territory

“First of all, I must clarify this impression. It is not true that, until Chad came, we were not making progress. What we needed was for our neighbors to move on them (the militants) from their territory so that the places they used to operate as their safe havens could be untenable for them. And, we had the cooperation of our neighbors in this respect," he said.

The United States government Monday warned Americans to avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because “the security situation in northeast Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.”

It “strongly urges US citizens in Nigeria to consider their personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their travel planning.”

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