The Nigerian Army has denied insinuations in the media that troops movement under Operation DEEP PUNCH II was temporarily halted to allow Boko Haram Leader, Abubakar Shekau, escape from Sambisa Forest.
Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, in a statement issued in Maiduguri, dismissed the report as “not true”.
The statement read: “The attention of Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE has been drawn to unfortunate mainstream and social media reports insinuating that troops advance at the ongoing Operation DEEP PUNCH II was deliberately halted to allow the escape of the purported factional Boko Haram terrorists group leader, Abubakar Shekau in Sambisa forest. This is not true.
“Contrary to the mischievous allegations, no such order or directive was given by anybody to any of the units and formations in the operation.
“It is crucial to point out that there are several factors in 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 phase operation and therefore requires that at a predetermined point or stage, troops will be halted either preparatory for transiting to another phase or the other depending on the threat situation.
“During the operation, troops movement could be put on halt when vehicles or other mobile equipment are bugged down due to the difficulty of the terrain and for recovery purposes.
“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 troops to halt to enable some specialized squad or scout assess the situation before movement resume. 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”