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Presidency says Boko Haram is beyond technically defeated, begs for patience from Nigerians

The presidency urged Nigerians to be patient and understanding while the government deals with Boko Haram's resurgence.

Defeating Boko Haram is a must-win war, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told troops at an army conference in Maiduguri

Even though President Muhammadu Buhari declared in 2015 that Boko Haram had been technically defeated, the group has carried out several deadly attacks since then, with an increase in the number of attacks on troops happening in 2018.

While speaking about the recent attacks during an interview on Channels Television's Sunrise Daily on Thursday, November 29, 2018, President Buhari's Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the group is beyond technically defeated.

He said the operational pattern of the group's recent raids which involves stealing foodstuffs and livestock from civilian communities suggests that it's now an economic war being perpetrated by criminals who are not necessarily subscribed to Islamic militancy like Boko Haram.

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He said, "The government is absolutely right in determining that Boko Haram has technically, in fact, beyond technicality, been degraded.

"I think that what we're dealing with from all of the things that are imagined lately is that Boko Haram has just become a generic term to describe the kind of criminal activity and terrorism that is cross border happening in the Lake Chad area.

"You can see from operations that are carried out by the terrorists themselves. They mostly target foodstuff and livestock, so it's economic motive there.

"When they raid, they don't seek the conversion of people to their own creed or their sense of their own religion. That's an important point to make."

Shehu's comment comes 11 days after terrorists belonging to Boko Haram faction, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), overran the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele village in Guzamala local government area of Borno Stateduring an attack on November 18.

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Even though many reports indicated that over 100 soldiers were killed in the attack with many others missing, the Army disclosed in a statement on Wednesday, November 28, that 23 soldiers were killed with 31 others injured.

The statement also revealed that terrorists staged a series of attacks on Nigerian troops between November 2 and November 17. The attacks took place in Kukawa, Ngoshe, Kareto and Gajiram, all in Borno, but were 'successfully repelled' by troops who killed 'several members' of the terrorist group. However, 16 soldiers were killed in the attacks while 12 were injured.

The Army also noted that despite systematically degrading Boko Haram in the past three years, the terrorists are staging a resurgence with daring moves that include the increased use of drones against troops' defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks.

While speaking on Thursday morning, Shehu said the group's resurgence is a worrying development and demands a new strategy. He also called on Nigerians to be patient with the government while it eliminates the group's threat to the Nigerian state.

"The entire thing calls for a new strategy and a better understanding and patience by Nigerians," the presidential spokesman said.

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Eliminate Boko Haram 'from face of the earth'

President Muhammadu Buhari was in Maiduguri, Borno on Wednesday to declare open the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Annual Conference as the guest of honour.

While delivering his speech, the president charged the military's leadership to ensure that their plans and programmes meet the nation's security challenges. He also urged the Army to remain committed to defeating Boko Haram.

"I want to encourage our troops not to be distracted by whatever speculations but remain focused and committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the face of the earth," he said.

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He said security remains one of the cardinal objectives of his administration and promised that no effort will be spared to support troops, including reviewing their welfare package.

"I want to assure you that, as your commander in chief, I will do everything within my powers to continue empowering you by providing all the necessary equipment for you to prevail on the field.

"I also want you to be aware that I'm currently looking into measures to improve your entitlements and welfare generally," he said.

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