Troops of the Nigerian Army have killed 16 members of the Boko Haram sect in their hideouts in Sambisa Forest.
Two others were lynched by residents of Puchi, where the militants had gone to collect levies that the violent group had imposed on members of the community.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said in a statement on Monday that the troops of the 21 Brigade of the 7 Division, Maiduguri, who carried out the operation, also cleared four villages – Bala Karege, Goske, Harda and Marka 3 – of the remnants of the militants.
Usman said the troops killed the insurgents when they took advantage of a downpour in the area to approach the location of the troops.
According to him, the vigilant troops killed eight of them and recovered two vehicles from the attackers.
He added that eight more bodies of the insurgents were recovered after another operation in the area.
Usman said the Boko Haram militants abandoned their hideouts and fled before the troops got to the cleared villages.
He stated that the troops repelled a Boko Haram ambush at Harda and recovered several items from them.
According to him, the troops recovered “suicide vests, high-calibre weapons, which included one Rocket Propelled Grenade Bomb, 18 rounds of 23mm Shilka ammunition, one barrel of AK-47 rifle, one extra-barrel of General Purpose Machine Gun, three AK-47 rifle magazines, metal link of 12.7mm ammunition and a heavy-duty solar panel battery from the insurgents.”
The troops were also said to have recovered 10 vehicles and 50 motorcycles belonging to the insurgents.
Usman stated that two out of three revenue collectors of the Boko Haram were killed at Puchi village.
He said before the troops of the 7 Division and some members of the Civilian JTF could get to the area, the residents apprehended two of the terrorists and lynched them while the third escaped.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Sani Sidi, said on Monday in Abuja that over 800 repentant members of the Boko Haram sect were currently undergoing vocational skills training under the supervision of the office of the Chief of Defence Staff.
Sidi, who stated this at the Public Hearing of a bill on the establishment of the North-East Development Commission at the National Assembly, said the repentant insurgents were registered under the ‘Safe Corridor initiative’ of the CDS.
He added that the programme was conceived to rehabilitate the repentant members of the sect so that “they could turn a new leaf.”
The NEMA boss stated, “It is not correct that the Federal Government does not have a plan for repentant sect members. The Federal Government has set up the safe corridor programme. I do know that over 800 sect members have been registered in it.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, who declared the public hearing open, lamented that the people of North-East, for the past seven years, had suffered untold destruction of both private and public properties worth billions of naira.
Saraki stated, “The North-East people had endured unprecedented pervasive brutality, and satanic barbarism meted out against them.
“What we have witnessed in the North-East demands special attention from all well-meaning Nigerians, not just from government. We must all rise up and say never again. We have seen families wiped out, children orphaned, incomes plunged below a tenth of what they were a decade ago.