The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, says the Army is yet to identify the sponsors of the deadly Islamic Sect, Boko Haram.
He stated that the Nigerian Army is still investigating to know those financing the terror group, but also hinted of possibility of international links.
Addressing reporters in Imo State during after a meeting with the State’s governor, Mr Rochas Okorocha, Lieutenant General Buratai noted that tracking sponsors of terrorist groups was a difficult task.
He said: “Terrorism is a very complex issue. Although we are investigating, it will take years before you reach the sponsors because you must get your facts well “.
However, the COAS said that the Army had contained Boko Haram and reduced the group’s activities to feeble but for unsuccessful attempts at soft targets.
“The Army has contained Boko Haram and the only thing you hear now is failed attempts at soft targets, unlike before when they attack Mosques, Churches and bus stations with high casualties,” the Army Chief said.
While commenting on the outcry over the alleged killing of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), by Soldiers, Buratai, insisted that the pro-Biafra groups were armed during their protests in Onitsha and Anambra State.
He insisted that the Soldiers acted in self defense after the members of the separatist groups opened fire on them during their protest against the continued detention of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government.
Restating the Army Rule of Engagement, Buratai said that the Army had the responsibility to preserve and protect lives and could only resort to lethal force after it had exhausted all options.
“It is impossible for Soldiers to open fire against unarmed protesters.
“The pro-Biafra protesters in Onitsha were armed and they opened fire on the Soldiers and other security agents. Our Soldiers only opened fire after they were shot at,” he isisted.
The COAS during the session of the ongoing 2016 Chief of army staff conference in Owerri also gave details of their latest operation ‘Operation Python Dance’, saying that the military operation was designed to improve internal security and exercises of Officers and Soldiers in the Southeast part of the country.
Giving a breakdown of the operation of the Nigerian Army in the Northeast, Buratai, disclosed that the Army had rescued 360,000 Nigerians, including women and children who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents.
Responding, the Imo Governor, commended the Nigerian Army for gallantry in the fight against Boko Haram.
He said that the nation owed them for putting their lives on the line to protect Nigerians.
Governor Okorocha who attributed the growing insecurity in the country to poverty, blamed political leaders for failing to create employment opportunities for the teeming youths.
“We cannot win the war against insecurity with force alone. We should also engage the youths meaningfully through the creation of employment,” the Governor stressed.
The 2016 Chief of Army Staff Conference is tagged “consolidating on the gains of counter-insurgency operations towards achieving national security” and it will end by Saturday December 10, 2016