The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has dismissed recent comments credited to him in which he was alleged to have blamed the recent fallbacks in counter-insurgency operations on the lack of commitment by soldiers prosecuting the war in the northeast.
Buratai, has, however, shifted the blame on locals whom he said withhold important information from the army giving the insurgents an easy ride during their raids.
Buratai who made the clarification at the Borno state Government House Maiduguri, during a joint press conference with the state Governor Prof. Babagana Umara, insisted that he was quoted out of context, stressing that “counterinsurgency is a complex and fluid operation” as according to him you are dealing with an enemy that you do not see.
According to him: “He is not wearing a uniform like our troops, they mix together with the population and they move together all over unless you can identify them as criminals then you’ll be able to deal rapidly with them but as long as they are not visible they easily mix.
“One major challenge is if the people don’t bring them out at the critical time that they are needed then we’ll continue to have this challenge and everybody will continue to suffer,” Buratai warned.
The Army Chief believes that “Boko Haram sneak into towns and villages and members of the community see them, especially where troops are deployed: they do surveillance, they look at the troops how they are deployed, their activities and these people in the community see the strange faces; they hardly report until when they now go back and call their members and ransack and attack troops in their location and cart away food and other items from the communities.”
Buratai therefore, urged that the war should be seen as a collective responsibility not an exclusive reserve of the military.
He assured that the army is committed to defending the country and will continue to train and retrain personnel reminding them to uphold the tenets of the profession.
“We never doubt the loyalty and commitment of our troops but if we have setbacks and challenges we must address them appropriately and we must caution our troops,” Buratai said.