A spokesman for Nigeria’s government said the military will not be deterred in its ongoing offensives against Boko Haram militants, despite the group’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group.
Mike Omeri, who is also the director general of the National Orientation Agency, said Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State group is due to the success of the continued military offensive launched by the Nigerian army and its allies on the Islamist militants.
“Well it’s sad, although it is something that we’ve always thought existed that there was a link to an attempt to get the linkage or attention from ISIS,” said Omeri. “Clearly, the Armed Forces of Nigeria and allies would continue [to] discharge their offensive in getting these areas freed. It will not deter us, it will only make us stronger and committed to the fight against terror in the land.”
“The fact that the armed forces have been recording successes of recent [has] led to this new development. Because they [the militants] have been decapacitated, they have been degraded, and most of them have been dispersed from various camps and communities where they have always had their presence,” he added.
The militants have recently launched a series of suicide bombing attacks across parts of the country’s north. Some analysts say it is difficult to protect civilians from suicide bombing attacks aimed to increase tension among the population.
Gaining citizens' help
Omeri says the government is working with citizens to help in the fight to combat the violence carried out Boko Haram.
“We have even issued an advisory that this could be possible because of the trend that we saw. So what they are doing is to go to some distant communities and attack soft targets; motor parks and markets,” said Omeri. “There is heightened security alert and messages to citizens encouraging them so they can be more alert, and to report such suspicions or objects or persons to the nearest authorities.”
Meanwhile, a bomb blast killed about 50 people Saturday in Maiduguri. Boko Haram has not claimed responsibility for the attack. But Omeri said attacks from the militants have decreased, due to the military offensives against them.
“Attacks have actually receded from the city of Maiduguri although about two weeks ago there was an attempt. ... But most of these attacks have been repelled and the insurgents pursued [with] devastating consequences on their part," he said.
"Of course, the recent attacks in Maiduguri are from suicide bombers. ... There is heightened security, but I can assure the best thing that can be done will be done," Omeri added.