For us, Boko Haram radio is still a rumour —Theatre commander

Theatre commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, combating the Boko Haram in the North East, Major General Lucky Irabor after his monthly review of activities had a short interview with BODUNRIN KAYODE in his office at Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri.  Excerpts:

WHAT is the true position on the report that Boko Haram is now having a radio station to fight back through propaganda?

Our findings so far do not indicate that there is anything like that anywhere within our territory. The report we got is that it is somewhere in Cameroon. We have received some of the frequencies they are allegedly using and I have asked our units in the border areas to listen to it and give us feedback. However, that they have a radio station is really not a big concern to us. We also have a means to transmit to the public the true position of the operations with respect to our progress we have made so far. Indeed Lafiya Dole is equally an FM radio station with its limitations like any other FM radio stations but we are doing our best with it. The transmission power of Lafiya Dole is restricted here within our territory. It doesn’t get across to Chad or Niger. We are meeting our target audience, even though we are also making efforts to cover more areas by way of replication of the station elsewhere.


Is it not yet time for your intelligence department to fight back in the obvious electronics war like the Chinese do?

Well, electronic warfare is not necessary, especially for the radio at this time. Why is it not necessary? It is still an allegation that they have an FM radio station. Before you can fight back by jamming which you are suggesting, you must know their operating frequency and the characteristics of the frequency which nobody has been able to listen to apart from those in Cameroon. For the other warfare you talked about, there are a whole lot of issues involved, especially in internet communications. But what you must understand is that we are doing what is possible. It may not be appropriate to give you all the details right now, but we are actually doing what is possible


How long will the current mop-up operations be carried out for us to get to the end of this lingering insurgency?

It may not be appropriate for me to give you the exact time now. This is because I am rather worried about the impact that the threat of insurgency has produced so far. I can report here that the threat has significantly reduced. We are equally working to see that it keeps reducing. I can’t give you a particular time frame because like in other forms of asymmetric warfare, it’s a very dynamic war without borders and can transform to something else. We ensure the impact is reduced on a daily basis and I think that is critical and that is what we are working to achieve and I think by and large we have been able to achieve that effectively.


Most times when you talk to journalists, your emphasis is mostly on Borno. Any further developments from the expanded theatre?

Well at least 60 to 65 percent of the problems we have are here in Borno. It only stands to reason that each time issues are talked about, it is Borno that would dominate. Even though few weeks back, we were in Kanama, near the boundary with Niger but the issue Yobe State, has been addressed. So you cannot say it is only Borno that is being reported in the theatre, leaving other vital areas out. Anybody can carry arms, even hunters. What is important is that you have the right information to give you the direction of what is happening so that you can respond by taking appropriate responses. This case you are talking about in Adamawa, they were celebrating something like wedding in the night and they did not send any information to security agents. So people who posed as hunters came in like herdsmen and shot at them. The brigade commander has addressed the issues, talked to them to even obey curfew timings. When we insist that people should obey curfew, it is because of incidences like this.


What is your message to the people of the North East which is within the theatre of  Operation Lafiya Dole?

We want to thank them for their support. They should always report suspicious movement of people. They equally have a part to play by reporting whatever is important to be handled by us.