Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday announced a strategic withdrawal of the country’s military from areas in which peace had been restored as the battle to eliminate terrorist elements rages on.

Buhari said the withdrawal will be done so as to allow the military to focus on its core duty of defending the nation against any external aggression.

This, in turn, will allow the police to handle internal security since, according to Buhari, Nigeria is not at war. The police will be assisted by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Buhari did not give any specific dates on when the withdrawal will begin and which areas will be affected. However, he added that it will be meticulously implemented and not hastily carried out.

“Let me reassure Nigerians that the planned withdrawal of the military from areas where peace has been restored will be gradual and carefully planned. It will not be abrupt or arbitrary; will not be carried out in a manner that will expose communities to greater risk of attacks.” Buhari wrote on his Twitter account.

Last month, Buhari assured the military of his total support to bring all ongoing operations to their logical conclusions.

The announcement comes in the wake of Chad ending a months-long mission fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria and withdrawing its 1,200-strong force across their common border.

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Nigeria has been battling an insurgency by Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa in the north for over a decade. The conflict has killed at least thousands of people and left millions of others displaced.