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Buhari absent at Arms Championship holding in Sambisa forest

Coup scare: People taking Buratai's warning too far – Presidency

…says never again will Boko Haram capture any part of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday was conspicuously absent at the 2017 Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship (NASAC) holding in Sambisa forest.

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The President was however represented by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali. reports that the President was earlier scheduled to visit the forest, on Monday (today) to declare the championship open.

The Chief of Training and Operations, Army, Maj. Gen. David Amadu, during a press briefing on Friday in Maiduguri to kick-start the NASAC 2017 championship, said the championship would  be formally declared open by the President.

Speaking through the Minister of Defence, Buhari noted that holding the championship in the forest was an affirmation that government was “resolved to stamp out all activities and operations of the Boko Haram insurgents from our territory.”

Buhari said: “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.

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“I can say categorically that never again will Boko Haram occupy any of our land.

“I want use this opportunity to congratulate the Nigerian Army for this achievement and reiterate at this point by noting that it is a case of professional training that brought the Nigerian Army to this length.”

Buhari restated that through the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI), government would reconstruct facilities and structures destroyed by the terrorists so that the people of the region could enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the championship was held at the forest to consolidate on the gains achieved by troops in the North East so far.

“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.

NASAC was held seven years ago at Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, in Kaduna state.

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According to Buratai, the championship could not be held since then due to numerous operational engagements by the army.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has named the newly established Nigerian Army shooting range at the Sambisa forest after the late Lt.-Col. Abu Ali.

Ali, who was the commander of an army formation at Mallam Fatori in Borno east, died in a battle on Nov. 4, 2016 when Boko Haram terrorists attempted to invade and take the town.