Gen. Ihejirika said militancy has reached a worrisome level and blamed the escalating security challenges on porous borders, slacking Customs vigilance at the ports and proliferation of arms in the West African sub-region, among other factors.
He said Boko Haram, which struck on June 16 at the Police Headquarters in Abuja, away from its centre of operations in Maiduguri and the Northeast, has succeeded in breaching security a few times because of the general complacency towards security and the groups novel tactics of intimidation and hiding away in the midst of the people.
Gen. Ihejirika vowed that the Joint Task Force (JTF) code-named Operation Restore Order, which has just been raised to battle the extremist group, would check its onslaught, notwithstanding the fact that the JTF is not a purely Nigerian Army operation.
He said he would not be satisfied until Boko Haram is eliminated. The army, he said, will in the next 10 years concentrate on internal peace support operation as a means of ending insurgencies in the country.
Said the Army chief: "Nobody should be intimidated by Boko Haram. That is their tactic, to intimidate the people into not offering information about them. If they are not cowards, they should come out in the open.
"The terrorists live within the people and by that able to intimidate them into not giving them out to security agencies, but they need to be exposed to be arrested. Sometimes, they may not have those weapons in their individual houses, so that when they are arrested in their houses, you may not find anything incriminating, yet they are there.
"It is possible they have some hideouts where they hide their weapons to avert anything incriminating being found on them."
He said the JTF should not be misconstrued as a purely military affair, adding: "To say that Army will play a leading role would be grossly misleading because 90 per cent of the job involved requests intelligence and patriotism.
"The involvement of the military is mainly because of the sophistication of their operation, the type of weapon they use, among others."
He said the information from the generality of Nigerians would be vital in finding a lasting solution to the menace of Boko Haram. "Nigerians, religious leaders, traditional leaders, everyone must come out and expose these traitors," he said.
In his view, the latest attacks by Boko Haram should awaken security consciousness in Nigerians. "Nigerians are too accommodating, our borders are too porous and Custom officials have not done enough because arms and ammunition used by these groups are imported.
"All hands must be on deck; the Customs must change their attitude, especially as it concerns importation of arms into this country. All must live up to their responsibilities."
He advised Nigerians to be security conscious, noting: "Security can be breached in several ways and anywhere. That is why we are pleading with people to take security seriously."
On whether to dialogue with and grant amnesty to Boko Haram, Gen. Ihejirika said: "Amnesty is not the concern of the Army, for the Army, the issue is that innocent people are being killed unnecessarily. Committing crime for no just cause by whatever name cannot be allowed to happen.
"They have only managed to capitalise on the general complacency towards security to do one or two things they have been able to do. It is criminality that should not be given any chance at all under any guise".