President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Army Small Arms championship, NASAC, holding at the Sambisa Forest, former stronghold of the Boko Haram Terrorist group as promised.
The Army Chief of Training and Operations, David Amadu, a Major General, during a press briefing in Maiduguri on Friday had said that President Buhari will declare the games open.
However, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, represented the President at the event on Monday.
It was not immediately clear why President Buhari failed attend the championship, which was intended to test and shape the intelligence and professional capacity of officers and men of the Nigerian army as well as its equipment.
In his speech on behalf the president, the defence minister vowed that insurgents will never again take over and occupy any part of Nigeria’s territory.
He maintained that holding the championship in the former enclave of the Boko Haram underscores the resolve of government “to stamp out all activities and operations of the Boko Haram insurgents from our territory.”
“This championship is a showcase of the clear effect and degradation of the Boko Haram terrorist group with the destruction of Camp Zairo in the heart of the famous Sambisa forest”, he stated.
President Buhari also reaffirmed that the federal government will ensure the reconstruction of facilities and structures that were destroyed by the insurgents so that citizens of the region would resume their normal lives.
Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General, said that the championship was being held at the forest to consolidate on the progress so far recorded in the counter-insurgency campaign in North East.
“This championship is therefore held here at the heart of the Sambisa Forest as part of Nigerian Army’s plans to effectively dominate all hostile territories in the North East,” Buratai said.
The Army chief explained that NASAC which was last held seven years ago, at Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna state, was stalled due to the many operational engagements of the army.
Meanwhile, the federal government has immortalized one of the outstanding army officers who died in one of the battles with Boko Haram fighters, Abu Ali, a lieutenant colonel.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that a newly established Nigerian Army shooting range at the Sambisa forest was named after the late officer who at the time of his death in November 2016, was the commander of an army formation at Mallam Fatori in Borno East.