The Army has dismissed reports that advancing troops of the Operation DEEP PUNCH II were deliberately halted to allow the factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, escape Sambisa forest.
Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations, Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE in a statement described the report as mischievous and false, aimed at rubbishing the efforts of the army.
He said though the Theatre Command considers the misinformation as very laughable, it was quite disheartening and capable of dampening the morale of troops who were working round the clock to fight the terrorists in north eastern Nigeria.
Nwachukwu said: “Contrary to these mischievous allegations, no such order or directive was given by anybody to any of the units and formations on that operation. This spurious allegation is most unfortunate and wake up call for the public to be very wary of agents of destabilization that are determined to thwart our efforts of clearing the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in nooks and crannies of Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad islands.
“Contrary to the insinuations being touted and for a better understanding of military operations by the authors of this misinformation, it is crucial to point out, that there are several factors that influence the planning and conduct of military operations, whether kinetic or otherwise. 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.
“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.”