Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, said the Nigerian military has lost many of its personnel in the counter-insurgency operation in the North East.

Magashi, a retired Army General while addressing troops of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, Borno State capital on Monday, day three of his assessment tour of the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency said many soldiers paid the supreme price in defence of the people in the North East.

“We’ve lost a lot of soldiers during this operation,” the minister said in his address to soldiers and officers at the theatre. He assured that all the benefits for the families of the deceased troops will be given to them in time to ensure their “services were not in vain.”

He said he had gone to a few locations in Borno since his arrival in the state on Saturday and discovered some “constraint.” He said the tour had encouraged him to pursue the welfare of troops on the battlefield.

“What I have to ensure is that more welfare is given to you and your families. Your entitlements will come to you in time but please ensure you take care of your families too,” he advised.

He said the security situation in the country had changed unlike in the past and required more efforts from the security personnel.

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Magashi who assumed office last week, also paid a courtesy visit to the governor, Babagana Zulum. He disclosed that he was directed by the president to visit the state. He expressed concern about the increasing displaced persons.

“Most of the people are moving to Maiduguri, the state capital because of what has happened. I believe soon, most of them will move back. I hope soon many of the people will return to their communities. This is the sacrifice we will have to make,” he said.

He said the president had ordered him and the military chiefs to do the best they could do to make the place safe for people to live.

“What we need to do now is to get Boko Haram out of Borno State.

I was commanded by the commander in chief to pay an assessment visit to Borno State,” he said.

Borno deputy governor, Umar Kadafru, said the North East was indebted to the president. He assured the state government would partner the army and other security agencies to ensure peace is fully returned.