A former American Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell has dismissed recent claims by the Nigerian army of victories over Boko Haram insurgents, stating that such claims should be taken with caution or even skepticism owing to the difficulty in accessing the conflict zone by the media and members of the international and diplomatic community.
According a report by the International Center For Investigative Reporting, Campbell also noted that the terror group had always evolved new ways to continue their terror raids, which in recent times has come to include the use of young girls as suicide bombers.
Campbell said: “The credibility of security service statements is not high. It is hard to confirm the Nigerian military’s claims of success as it is difficult for foreigners, including the diplomatic community and the media, to access the areas where Boko Haram traditionally operates in Nigeria.
“Military claims of success must be viewed with caution if not skepticism. Throughout the struggle between Boko Haram and the Nigerian state, beginning with the former’s re-emergence in 2011, security service spokesmen have made exaggerated claims of success.
“Military spokesmen claim that large numbers of Boko Haram operatives are surrendering. They also cite military capture of Boko Haram arms, food, and even narcotics. On the other hand, Boko Haram terrorism continues, as documented by the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker.”
Since President Muhammadu Buharu gave a 3-month ultimatum for service chiefs to bring the insurgency bedeviling the Northern part of the country, the military has steadily released statements claiming victories over the sect, but Campbell says such statements should not be taken to heart as the spokesmen are the only source of information and there are no available means of verifying the claims.
Campbell also said the recent report of arrest of Boko Haram suspects in Katsina, Lagos and Enugu states, if confirmed, showed that notwithstanding the group’s dwindling membership, its determination to spread beyond its primary locations of Borno, Yobe and Adamwa cannot be underestimated.
President Buhari has made tackling insecurity a top priority and have been the reasons for many foreign visits namely: Germany for the G7 Summit, USA, Cameroon, Benin Republic, Chad, Niger, South Africa and most recently, France.