Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, says the real Boko Haram has been defeated.
In a statement released on Tuesday on the ten years of the Boko Haram insurgency, Shehu said the terrorists the military is fighting are remnants of Boko Haram and international criminals taking advantage of the country’s porous border.
The Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009 following the killing of the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
“What we have now is a mixture of remnants of the Boko Haram, fugitive criminals and the Islam in the Maghreb together with West African terrorists bonding together,” he said.
“This is a fall out of the collapse of the Libyan State, and from farther away, of the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They are taking advantage of our porous Sahelian borders.
“As a consequence of these international gangs, we have seen an increase of trans-border crimes and the proliferation of small arms in the Lake Chad Basin area. Outrages are common in Niger, Mali, Chad and Cameroon.”
Shehu said the situation would have been worse but for the efforts of the army and the Nigeria-led Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), formed by the countries in the Lake Chad Basin.
“At the moment, the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari has made the country safer than it met it. In 2015 when he took power, Boko Haram terrorism was active in nearly half the number of states in the country,” the presidential spokesman said.
“They controlled a territory the size of Belgium, with a flag and systems of administration and taxation of their own. Emirs and Chiefs had fled their domains along with hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens. Such is no more; they have been taken from them.”
Shehu noted that the nation has received support from international countries to procure arms in sustaining the fight against the insurgents, while a digital monitoring system has been deployed to the borders.
“In addition to the support the government of Nigeria is receiving from friendly countries across Europe, the United States and the Middle East, the Nigerian government is spending large sums of money in weapons procurement to keep our military in good fighting shape.
“The Buhari administration is strongly encouraged by successes recorded so far by our armed forces and the MNJTF, and is optimistic that in the same way as our military defeated the Boko Haram, so would the ISWA terrorism be defeated.”