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Irabor: This is Our Most Challenging Period in Nation's History – THISDAY Newspapers

*Says armed forces proud of role in Nigerian project at 61
*Optimistic of victory over insecurity
*Troops foil ISWAP attack on surrendered terrorists, families
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, at the weekend, said at no other time in Nigeria’s history had members of the armed forces been so engaged in addressing the myriad of security challenges confronting the country and threatening the very foundation of her unity, security and wellbeing.
He however said that these notwithstanding, the armed forces remained proud of its critical role in project Nigeria as the nation marked her 61st independence anniversary celebration.
Speaking at a dinner organised by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) for members of the Armed Forces in commemoration of Nigeria’s 61st independence day anniversary celebration held in Abuja, Irabor said security forces were undaunted in spite of the challenges of insecurity and assured the citizens that the nation would be victorious.
This is coming as troops of Operation Hadin Kai, weekend, foiled an attack by fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP), who attempted to free surrendered terrorists and their families in the North-east.
Eight thousand insurgents and their families have so far surrendered to troops.
Also, the Nigeria Army said it would today launch Exercises Golden Dawn, Enduring Peace and Still Water nationwide.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Faruk Yahaya, is expected to flag-off all exercises at the venue of Exercise Golden Dawn, billed to take place at Oye-Emene, Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.
At the dinner, where 24 officers and men of the armed forces were honoured for their gallantry in the war against insurgency, Irabor reiterated that the armed forces remained proud of its role in nation building.
“As we celebrate another anniversary of self rule, the Armed Forces of Nigeria is proud of its critical role and efforts in the Nigerian project. At no other time in Nigeria’s history have members of the armed forces been so engaged in addressing the myriad of security challenges confronting the country that threatened the very foundation of our unity, security and well being.
“Rising up to this challenge, the armed forces have made tremendous sacrifices. The Armed Forces of Nigeria remains resolute and undaunted in the face of these challenges and we shall be victorious”, he assured,” he said.
Further, the Armed Forces posthumously honoured the late Colonel Abu Ali, who paid the supreme price in 2016 while combating insurgents and terrorists in the the North-east.
Also honoured posthumously was the late Squadron Leader, Victor Uba, who paid the supreme price in the fight against banditry in the North-west.
The late officers alongside 20 other military personnel were recognised and honoured at the event held at Command Officers Mess, Asokoro, Abuja.
Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd), who was special guest of honour at the event, commended the leadership of the armed forces for observing the sacred military tradition, which sought to improve regimentation as well as fostering comradeship among senior and junior office.
He noted that regimental dinner was a platform for officers to interact and share ideas on how to solve critical challenges facing their commands and helping to fast-track the attainment of national security objectives of government.
Magashi, while commending the role played by the armed forces in the preservation and security of the nation since independence, noted that the “spectacular achievements of the security agencies in the fight against terrorism, insurgency, militancy and banditry amongst others are well recognised and appreciated.”
The minister assured the leadership of the armed forces of a sustained support in the provision of adequate logistics and equipment to aid the military in restoring lasting peace in the nation.
Meanwhile, a war update issued by the Nigerian Army Headquarters, said ISWAP, confronted with the obvious reality of defeat, had embarked on a desperate move to undermine the depletion of its fighting force, resorted to attacks on surrendered Boko Haram members and their families.
It said the insurgents embarked on a mission to “annihilate or capture Boko Haram terrorists, who surrendered in Damboa”, but that, “The gallant troops of 25 Task Force Brigade Operation Hadin Kai, whose superior firepower forced the terrorists to withdraw in disarray, ensured Damboa did not fall to their antics.”
The statement claimed “the terrorists made futile attempt to access the facility housing the surrendered BHT members but retreated, when confronted with the superior firepower of own troops”, adding that the ISWAP attack was designed to discourage more terrorists from surrendering.
“This antic of terror within terror is being employed by ISWAP to discourage intending surrendering terrorists in their ranks. The latest strategy is not unconnected with the frustration of the group as top ranking commanders and members denounce violent agitation to embrace peace in recent times,” the Army said.
The update signed by Army Spokesman, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, reassured the people of Damboa and environs and urged them to go about their normal businesses as vigilant troops would proactively continue to provide security of lives and property.
“The general public are (sic) also enjoined to provide actionable and timely information on the activities of these criminal elements and their collaborators.
“The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, while commending troops for their doggedness, charged them to take the fight to the terrorists’ enclaves to deny them freedom of action. He also reassured them of requisite support as they record more operational gains in Operation Hadin Kai”, it said.
Also, a separate statement claimed the Nigeria Army would today launch Exercises Golden Dawn, Enduring Peace and Still Water nationwide.
Yahaya is expected to flag-off all exercises at the venue of Exercise Golden Dawn which will take place at Oye-Emene, Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.
“For all intents and purposes, it should be noted that these Field Training Exercises (FTEs) are routines conducted yearly by the Nigerian Army (NA), designed to effectively check all forms of criminality and allow for free movement of persons during the Yuletide.
“Additionally, the FTEs will equally provide a platform to sharpen the skill so f participating troops on the conduct of Internal Security Operations. The exercises will run concurrently in 2, 6, 81 and 82 Divisions Areas of Responsibilities(AOR) in the South West, South South and South East regions respectively,” it said.
The statement explained that the exercise would also be conducted in Headquarters Command Army Records, 401 Special Forces Brigade and Guards Brigade Areas of Responsibilities (AOR) in the North Central States of Kogi, Benue and the Federal Capital territory respectively.
“Expectedly, troops will be taken through operational rigours to effectively respond to security challenges, ranging from kidnapping, banditry, thuggery, brigandage, armed robbery, cultism, communal crisis, violent secessionist agitations, farmers-herders clashes and insurgency, amongst other crimes.
“This will be complimented by robust civil-military relations activities in identified communities in the envisaged AORs. This intervention calls for critical stakeholders to support the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to stem the tide of crimes and criminality across the areas, particularly as the Yuletide approaches,” it said.
The army, therefore, enjoined the public not to panic at sighting the movement of troops and equipment.
“They are also urged to please continue to support the NA and other security agencies with credible information on the activities of criminals in their vicinity. Nigerians are please encouraged to take ownership of the exercise for a seamless celebration during the yuletide,” it stated.

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