President Muhammadu Buhari has canceled his planned trip to the Sambisa Forest to open the Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship holding on Monday, March 27.
He, however, delegated the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, to represent him at the event, said a statement issued by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai on Saturday.
The chief of training and operations at the army headquarters, David Ahmad, had earlier announced that Buhari would declare the ceremony open.
While no concrete reason was given for the cancellation, Buhari would have been the first president to visit the former stronghold of the Boko Haram sect in Borno state.
Addressing pressmen in Maiduguri, Buratai said Sambisa forest was chosen for the event to consolidate Nigerian Army’s grip on the area.
He said: “We have been in the north-east, fighting the Boko Haram terrorists, and you know the significance of the Sambisa forest to them.
“It used to be one of their centres; in fact, we suspect that their command and control centre was located there before its eventual capture.
“We also want the place to be dominated by our troops and also to get firm control, so that we will continue to dominate the area.”
Buratai said the championship was part of the training activities of the Nigerian Army, aimed at sharpening marksmanship of its personal.
“The Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship is part of the training activities scheduled for 2017,” he said.
“It is a championship among the formations of the Nigerian Army.
“The objective of the event is to sharpen the marksmanship skills of the army personnel.”