Five thousand different categories of arms and ammunition have been scooped by the Joint Task Force (JTF), code named: operation restore peace, in Borno State, as it began a house-to-house arms mop up exercise in the capital city, Maiduguri.
The operation, which was undertaken following the expiration of the deadline given to the residents of the city to submit any arm in their possession to the JTF, has been described as successful by the operatives.
The JTF spokesman, Lt-Col Hassan Mohammed, in a telephone interview yesterday confirmed that about 5,000 assorted arms and ammunition had been recovered by the task force since the exercise started following the expiration of the deadline for the submission of same to the organisation.
Mohammed said the house-to-house search would continue in Maiduguri and appealed to members of the public to support the JTF to restore peace and order in the state.
He also said the sweeps ere aimed at stopping frequent attacks by Boko Haram, adding that several people had been arrested, apart from the weapons that had been seized.
“This measure is aimed at bringing an end to the incessant attacks by Boko Haram,” Mohammed said.Most of the arms were retrieved from the members of the public who voluntarily submitted them to beat the October 31 deadline.
However, some were recovered during the on-going house-to-house search, while others were simply dropped at refuse dumps at some locations in the metropolis by some unknown persons.
Some of the areas where the arms, especially guns (AK47 rifles) were recovered from refuse dumps include Baga Road, Abaganaram Housing Estate and the Jajeri ward.
The order for the submission of arms and ammunition was given by the Commandant of the JTF, Brig-General Jack Nwaogbo.
The order was communicated through a release signed on his behalf by the Field Operations Officer of JTF, Col. Victor Ebhaleme, on October 4.
In the release, the arms and ammunition were ordered to be submitted to the Director of Borno State Security Service (SSS), the Borno State Commissioner of Police, the 21Armoured Brigade or the headquarters of the JTF.
The mop up of arms from homes through the house-to-house search began on November 1. The warning came less than 48 hours after the October 31, 2011 deadline set by the JTF which directed residents to surrender all arms, explosives and ammunition.
Boko Haram has been linked to several attacks in the area, including an August 26 suicide car bombing on a United Nations buildingthat killed 24 people in Abuja. The group, in justifying its action, demanded a strict form of Islamic law applied more widely across the country.
The group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, has been accused of being behind dozens of shootings in the North-east of the country, usually targeting public and religious figures. Last month, it killed a Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) cameraman, Zakariyya Isa.
Reacting to the arms submission directive, Boko Haram warned residents of Maiduguri and its environs not to submit their arms to the JTF.
Spokesman of the group, Abul Qaqa, said on phone that it would be wrong for the residents to give away their weapons.
“It will amount to mortgaging your freedoms and your enemies will attack you with ease,” he said.
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