Recent reports alleging that Turkey has been supplying weapons to Boko Haram terrorists and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) is being investigated by Nigeria, says the Defence Headquarters (DHQ). The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, had in a live interview with Arise TV confirmed that intelligence reports and findings revealed increasing foreign connections with the operations of these terrorist organisations, especially in the area of supply of arms and ammunition. Nwachukwu also disclosed that there were interceptions of foreign shipment of weapons to the terrorists, which was one of the key reasons informing the closure of Nigeria’s borders. He said broad investigations are ongoing. The full interview was first published by the Opera News
Does this report come to you as a surprise?
It is not coming as a surprise to our country and to our armed forces, considering the fact that we know that Boko Haram has been decimated. We know that they have been joined by ISIS, we know that Boko Haram had pledged allegiance over the years to ISIS and joined…support from various organisations and perhaps other clandestine organisations and countries.
Does Nigeria have any military pact and defence with Turkey and what is the response of the country at this time?
I would like to say that at the national strategic level, it is being given the necessary attention and concern and of course you will agree with that that is what informed one of the very recent policies, the border closure policies adopted at the national strategic level. Given the fact that severally, our customs have been intercepting weapon systems being shipped into the country. We intercepted container loads of firearms and heavy firearms being shipped into the country. Its being given attention at the national strategic level, very adequately.
You said it’s not coming as a surprise, we wonder why the revelation is coming to the fore now and nothing has been said about it before?
Yes, we are talking about the intelligence community here, everything do not have to be churned out and put in the public domain. We are talking about intelligence. Good enough, somebody just made a reference to it in one of those international media and I told you it’s being investigated, it’s receiving due attention at the national strategic level, it’s being taken very seriously. Just like I told you, it’s one of those issues in the border closure, given the fact that firearms have previously been intercepted, all these have been based on requisite intelligence gathering.
Would you agree that Turkey maybe using Nigeria as a pun in this high pressure game?
Nigeria is too sophisticated to be a pun in the hands of Turkey. The Armed Forces of Nigeria is too sophisticated to be a pun in the hands of Turkey and I have told you that based on requisite intelligence gathering, several firearms have been intercepted, container loads of firearms have been intercepted. At the national strategic level, that’s a different issue, which I wouldn’t like to delve into. But talking about intelligence gathering which concerns the armed forces of Nigeria and other security, we are doing the utmost, we are working round the clock to ensure that we gather enough intelligence into what comes into Nigeria and what goes out of Nigeria that could compromise national security. I think that’s the utmost and very important t the armed forces of Nigeria
How much of an assurance is Nigeria expecting form Turkey at this time to exorcise this allegation or claim. How much response have you gotten from the Turkish government at this time?
I told you that is going to be at the national strategic level and not at our own military strategic level. It’s going to be a diplomatic thing
What is the level of success is the military recording in the fight against terrorism, almost a decade down. What would you blame as the inability so far for the military to win the war. Why has it been so difficult?
Well it is a big national security challenge and it’s not only peculiar with Nigeria. I need you to understand that there is an increasing employment of the instrument of violence by non-state actors globally. It is an international thing and that’s why you find Boko Haram for instance pledging allegiance to ISIS. You will find ISWAP cropping up as an appendage so to speak of Boko Haram and working with another international terrorist organisation like the ISIS. So it is not only peculiar to Nigeria it is a global thing that requires global attention. Good enough, at our national level, we are giving it attention, the security situation in the Northeast, compared to what it used to be in 2009 is far far better. As we speak today, there is Socio-Economic activities beginning to be restored in the northeast, there is governance in the northeast, people are going about there normal businesses and we are dominating the theatre operations and the battle space. We have pushed the terrorists out of the various towns in the northeast and sent them into the bushes from where they are hibernating and from where they come out once in a while to attack soft targets. I think we have made huge success relative to what it used to be in the past. You will recall that far back as 2014, Boko Haram was almost approaching Lagos, we had sleeper cells of Boko Haram in Kogi state, we had them in Abuja, they were all over the place, people could not sit out to socialise freely whithin the society, but today, we have flipped the country over, it is a far cry from what it used to be. Boko Haram have been pushed out from all these communities and pushed far into the Tumbus where we call the island and today we have governance going on in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi as well as Gombe states and we have our troops dominating the battle space.
What are the success story of Operation Crocodile Smile in the South West?
That’s an internal security operations led by the Nigerian Army and it’s meant to work with the Police and other security organizations to address emerging security challenges in that part of the country. We have had issues of abduction, kidnapping, assassination, ethnic communal crisis, herder-farmer crisis, these are the security challenges we are jointly addressing with other security agencies.