The Nigerian military has made some disclosures on how it carried out the rescue operation of the three hundred forty-four (344) boys kidnapped from their school in Kankara, Katsina State, on December 11.
It said that while kinetic and non-kinetic approaches were used to ensure all the students were rescued unhurt, there was resistance from the kidnappers who laid an ambush against the troops.
Major Gen. John Enenche, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, and retired Major Gen. Ahmed Jibrin, former Director, Military Intelligence, gave the accounts when they both featured on a special edition of the Nigeria Television Authority programme, “Good Morning Nigeria” on Saturday.
Jibrin, who is currently the Special Adviser, Technical, to the Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, said after the kidnapped of the boys, the minister led a delegation, including the Service Chiefs and National Security Adviser, to Katsina and Kankara.
He explained that the minister gave the rules of engagement directing the military to ensure the abducted boys were rescued without casualties and within the shortest time possible.
Jibrin said, “Following the directive, the troop closed in on the abductors from 4 different fronts, including the reinforcement that was made from other divisions to ensure that the entire location was sealed off.
“The bandits were all under siege, and they were fully aware of that, feeling the impacts of the presence of the troops both from the air and on the ground.
“When they approached the location where the boys were held, the troops encountered some pockets of opposition which they cleared and moved deeper into the forest.
“Although, there was no casualty on the part of the boys, a lot of the bandits were neutralised because in the attempt by the military to move forward, they laid an ambush in 2 places along the way.
“Infact, in the second place where they laid an ambush, there was serious resistance because they were hiding and occupied the road.
“They delayed the movement of the troop for some hours before they were neutralised.”
Jibrin added that while the troops were on the field, negotiations were ongoing at another level of the rescue efforts.
According to him, the troop couldn’t completely demobilise the bandits because of possible collateral damage as the abducted boys were used as a human shield.
Commenting on the claim by the Boko Haram terrorists that they were responsible for the abduction of the students, Jibrin said the group was only seeking cheap relevance.
“Shekau doesn’t have the reach to carry out the abduction because a lot is being done to stop them in the North-East,” he said.
“He’s just taking advantage of what happened to get publicity locally and internationally, it’s clear that the abduction was done by bandits.
“All their efforts when they were trying to reach out to the bandits, which they did, were monitored.”
On his part, Enenche explained that the rescue mission, like any other one, was a delicate operation because if it wasn’t carried out very professionally, the tide could turn negatively.
Enenche said, “This is an operation where you don’t rely on your capacity on platforms and mechanical weapons but your ability to effectively carry out the mission with unarmed combat.
“This means you’ve to silence your enemies and take your objective away without firing a shot.
“It’s very delicate in the sense that if you don’t manage the operation well, the children who are in between you and the enemies will now become the victims.
“When they become the victims, the people outside there’ll attribute it to failure on the part of your security forces.”
Enenche said the special troops deployed on the mission were on the spot and couldn’t have blinked their eyes for even one hour all through the days of the mission.
According to him, the information provided locally was also very encouraging while the support they got from all the stakeholders was of assistance.
He said: “There was no conspiracy of silence. All that we needed were provided even from the locals, and before you know it, we were able to locate the place.
“All the kinetic and non-kinetic blockades were all effectively monitored.
“This is to the extent that even when they were going to leave their enclave to make bulk purchases from the market, we got information.”