Beginning from 2017, December 22 of every year is to be marked as Sambisa Memorial Day which will be public holiday in Borno State for the purpose of remembering victims of Boko Haram insurgents, the victory recorded by the Nigerian Military, and the remembrance of fallen soldiers and volunteers who sacrificed their lives fighting Boko Haram since 2009 in different parts of Borno State.
Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima announced this on Monday inside the Sambisa Forest at the opening of the Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship which is currently holding at the Forest that used to be taken over from insurgents. Shettima said December 22 was chosen for the annual public holiday because it was on December 22, 2016 that the Nigerian Armed Forces took over the Sambisa Forest from Boko Haram insurgents after a tough battle.
The Governor also announced his plans to seek partnership with the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to collaborate in building a National Museum and Research institution in Borno State that would collate all de-classified information, materials recovered by the military in relation to the fight against the insurgents to document history of insurgents, their victims, fallen soldiers and relevant materials in order to preserve lessons learnt from the crisis and to attract local and foreign tourists.
“The Borno State Government will from this year, begin to declare the 22nd December of every year, as SAMBISA MEMORIAL DAY. This day which will be marked as public holiday in Borno State, for the purpose of celebrating the strength and victory of our armed forces; for the purpose of remembering victims of the Boko Haram insurgency and the families they left behind. And also, for the purpose of remembering members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and Volunteers who gave their lives in the course of fighting the Boko Haram in Borno State. The fall of Sambisa is both symbolic and memorable and this is why as a Government, we are taking steps to preserve the history behind the fall of Sambisa Forest and to spectacularly document the roles played by everyone from the Commander In Chief, our service chiefs, commanders of troops and our soldiers. Very soon, the Borno State Government will respectfully request for partnership with the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture towards working together to construct a National Museum that we might call SAMBISA FALL & INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRE, for the purpose of documenting all de-classified information, to preserve valuable materials recovered by the military in relation to the fight against Boko Haram insurgency and to document history of the crisis from the days of the Taliban to Boko Haram. Importantly also, our aim is to document responses by successive political and military leadership and the eventual fall of Sambisa Forest under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. We hope that such a Museum will become a global custodian of information and valuable materials on issues relating to the Boko Haram and the role played by the Nigerian Military and multi national forces. We will propose that the museum should have A HALL OF FALLEN HEROES which should bear names and pictures of notable officers and men of the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, DSS, all para-military agencies, the civilian JTF and hunters who paid the supreme price in helping to free us from the Boko Haram. We will also propose that the Museum should have a HALL OF FAME to document the patriotic contributions of leaders like President Muhammadu Buhari, our current service chiefs, past and present military and other security heads and commanders of troops who meritoriously served within and outside the northeast in the fight against the Boko Haram. We will propose that the Museum should have a MEMORIAL HALL that would permanently bear names of notable civilians killed by insurgents. The whole idea is to preserve history so that we keep memories alive, so that we remember and salute our heroes and most importantly, for us and the future generation to learn from the unfortunate Boko Haram experience” Governor Shettima said.
The Governor paid tribute to the armed forces for their successes in suppressing the Boko Haram noting the people of Borno State will remain indebted to all those who made contributions to addressing the Boko Haram crisis and it’s effects.
The Minister of Defence, General Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening of the Championship. The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai hosted the event while National Assembly members in Committees dealing with the armed forces were also at the Sambisa Forest to mark the event.
There were ceremonial shooting by the Minister of Defence, Chief of Army Staff and National Assembly members who all wore military camouflage.
More photos below…