Maiduguri is Surrounded by Boko Haram, Borno Elders’ Forum Cries Out

The Borno Elders’ Forum (BEF) has decried the horror, death, destruction and misery that has been visited on North-eastern Nigeria and particularly Borno State by Boko Haram, warning that the sect has strategised and completely surrounded the city of Maiduguri.

A statement signed by the chairman of the forum, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari Usman, and made available to THISDAY yesterday, said: “They have reached as far as Kayamla from the south of Maiduguri; Dikwa and Mafa from the east of Maiduguri; and have destroyed almost all the island settlements at Lake Chad and the commercial fishing towns of Baga, Doro, Kingarra, Duguri, Daban Masara, etc.”

The elders’ forum warned that it is apparent that the sect’s imminent target is to take the city of Maiduguri, noting that almost half of the population of Borno now reside in Maiduguri.

“Ever since July 2009, the Boko Haram insurgents did not only grow in size and numbers but seemed to have become better equipped and trained, more sophisticated and the scope of their brutality has become overwhelming,” the group said.

The forum noted that at the beginning of the crisis, the people of Borno suffered death and destruction from both Boko Haram and the military, observing that at the time, the assumption, though wrong, was that the people were not cooperating with the Nigerian Armed Forces.

“Then our youths rose to the occasion and formed the civilian version of the military JTF. They were not only able to flush out the insurgents in our cities and towns but also gave unalloyed support to our armed forces.

“We hoped then that the federal government would seize the initiative to quicken the process of crushing the insurgency. Alas this did not happen. The insurgents were treated with kid gloves and were allowed to take root in our rural settings.

“They killed and destroyed at will while at the same time increasing their fighting forces by kidnapping young people from the rural areas who were coerced and indoctrinated to fight for them.
“They finally took their root in the Sambisa forest and the Manadara Mountains as well as the Hills of Gwoza,” the forum said.

It added that the growth and expansion of the Boko Haram did not just happen overnight, as it had severally cried to the federal government of the dangers ahead.

The forum said: “Several entreaties were made but apparently the response by the government was not only dismal but also frustrating. The whole nation was made to believe that only the declaration of a state of emergency would bring the solution.

“The state of emergency has been in its 3rd term of six months. At a point, the federal government was reported to have even contemplated removing the democratic structures in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, even when those structures have powers over security in the face of emergency rule.

“However, since the declaration of the state of emergency, the situation went from bad to worse. The Boko Haram became more emboldened, more daring and more deadly. They have now destroyed hundreds of settlements and establishments including military, police and para-military formations.
“They have equally successfully attacked financial institutions and destroyed schools and hospitals as well as places of worship.

“As of today, the insurgents have been kidnapping our children including very young girls in their thousands and camping them in their hide outs in the expansive Sambisa Forest and may be possibly indoctrinating them to be their fighting forces and also suicide bombers.

“We are convinced that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not shown sufficient political will to fight Boko Haram and rescue us from the clutches of the insurgents which may ultimately lead to the total annihilation of the inhabitants of Borno.”

It said after successfully holding onto the Chibok schoolgirls for over four months now, the Boko Haram sect has been capturing substantial parts of Borno and Yobe States.

“They have declared their Caliphate, i.e. independent Islamic State, with their headquarters at the all important and military strategic city of Gwoza. They declared the Gwoza Emir’s palace as their seat of government hoisting their flag there.

“They have annexed and are sitting in charge in several other key towns and regions, including Damboa, Pulka, Ashigashia, Liman Kara, Kirawa, Gamboru-Ngala, Marte, Kirenowa, Buniyadi, Gulani, etc.

“For now, they have strategised and completely surrounded the city of Maiduguri – they have reached as far as Kayamla from the south of Maiduguri; Dikwa and Mafa from the east of Maiduguri; and have destroyed almost all the island settlements at Lake Chad and the commercial fishing towns of Baga, Doro, Kingarra, Duguri, Daban Masara, etc,” it said.

The elders’ forum revealed that most of the fleeing villagers trooping into Maiduguri and are living in various primary and secondary schools now turned into camps, thus becoming refugees in their own country, adding, “Our hopes of being rescued by the federal government is fading by the day.
“We are disillusioned and perpetually live in despair and misery. The level of neglect shown leaves us much bewildered.

“The insurgents have rendered impassable almost all the roads leading to Maiduguri. They have destroyed major bridges on our highways including the only bridge linking Nigeria-Chad and Cameroun.

“They waylay major and feeder roads robbing and killing road users at will. The federal government seems to have rendered them support by closing down the Maiduguri International Airport, thus forcing everyone to have no alternative but the insurgent-infested roads.”

The forum revealed that the fate of the state’s 2014 intending pilgrims hangs in the balance, similar to what happened to their colleagues during their Ramadan trip to Saudi Arabia for the Umra, whereby they had to travel individually to Kano against the hazards of road journey.

“It is apparent that our intending pilgrims might face a similar fate,” the group said, adding that the closure of the airport for whatever reason was in bad faith and had definitely compounded the state’s already horrific security situation.

“Borno State has been in total blackout for nearly three months. The federal government, taking cover under the claim of insecurity, has failed to restore power to Borno, even when it was clear to us that the line to Maiduguri was damaged by an incident involving a Nigeria Air Force plane.

“Every economic activity has been grounded. This too has further expanded our web of despair. The authorities concerned should make it a point of moral duty to quickly restore power supply to Borno State, even if they may resort to using different routes from the one they fear approaching.

“We were alarmed to learn that the extension of the 330KVA line to Maiduguri has been deliberately delayed. We were reliably informed that the materials meant for Borno were diverted to another state. We plead that those materials be brought back to Borno and the extension be completed in good time. Complete darkness is also an ingredient to insecurity,” the group cautioned.

It added that Boko Haram insurgents had been dishing out instructions to Borno people in the rural areas, and in most of those areas they have been patrolling the streets, preaching and passing judgments including enforcing capital punishment.

“In most of those areas our soldiers have abandoned their posts. Our soldiers have abandoned most areas from Gwoza to Gamboru-Ngala to Baga – stretching ten local government areas. The people have been cowed to accept their authority, it is really devastating and unthinkable that Nigeria can accept such an ugly development in any part of its territory.

“The often-repeated claim by our soldiers was that they are not well equipped and that Boko Haram has superior fire power. However, it is sad to note that most of the weapons used by Boko Haram were the same weapons abandoned by our soldiers and those they cart away from barracks and other military formations,” the forum said.

The group pointed out that the bane of Nigerian soldiers was the apparent lack of patriotism, courage and purposeful leadership, wondering what had happened to the gallantry of Nigerian men in uniform who had fought gallantly in other climes.

The forum further warned that starvation was imminent in Borno State, as there is no farming activity throughout the state this farming season and a food crisis cannot be wished away.

“From time immemorial, small scale subsistent farming has been the main stay of the economy. Where the poor who is able and willing has been prevented from farming, he has been sentenced to death,” it said.

The elders called for a proactive and concrete plan to ensure that the remaining Borno population does not perish due to starvation, adding that livestock in the state had already been either rustled or died in their numbers.

It also urged the federal government to institute a judicial inquiry into all the atrocities committed by Boko Haram with a view to bringing all responsible to justice.

The group called on the government to step up the fight against the sect with a view to bringing to an end the madness perpetrated by the insurgents, noting: “There is no reason or justification for their dastardly actions against the society.

“Finally and most important, we wish to call on the federal government to urgently fortify in and around the city of Maiduguri. The insurgents have surrounded Maiduguri and are nursing the ambition of attacking the city from all directions.

“There is credible local intelligence information to that effect. We must be pro-active. Maiduguri is heavily pregnant with people who have trooped into it hoping for safety,” it warned.

But as the elders’ forum lamented the heightened state of insecurity in Borno, no fewer than 75 members of the terrorist Boko Haram sect were reportedly killed yesterday by local hunters in Michika and Madagali Local Government Areas of Adamawa State.

The insurgents, who had ridden roughshod over the two local government areas and parts of Borno State, were reported to have run short of ammunition.

A source in the area said that on discovering that the insurgents were out of ammunition, the local hunters pounced on them and started slaying them.

Following the incident, coupled with the cover provided by Nigerian troops, he said normalcy had started to return to the affected local governments.

A resident of Michika, Vandi, who spoke to journalists yesterday in Yola on the phone, confirmed that members of the sect ran short of ammunition.

He said the hunters in the area discovered that there was no sound of gunshots from the side of the insurgents, adding that the hunters then bravely crept up to the positions held by the insurgents. He said on sighting the hunters, the insurgents started running into bush for safety.

“But our youths and vigilante ambushed and killed over 75 insurgents who were trying to run away, because there was dearth of ammunition,” he said.

A security source also said the Nigerian Armed Forces were on top of the situation in the areas.
Efforts to get an official statement from the military in Yola, however, proved abortive.

However, the Emir of Mubi in Adamawa State, Alhaji Abubakar Isa Ahmadu, yesterday debunked media reports that he fled from his kingdom for fear of attack by members of Boko Haram.

Ahmadu said he never abandoned his people and would not abandon his people in times of trouble.
The emir, who spoke through the Danruwata of the Mubi Emirate Council, Chief John Babani Elias, said he left Mubi for Yola on a state assignment.

The emir said he went for a meeting in Yola with a delegation as the Amirul Hajj for the 2014 Hajj operations and to make adequate preparations for pilgrims from the state.

“Let me put the records straight here: the emir did not leave Mubi for Yola in order to escape from the insurgents. Rather he went for a meeting with members of the 2014 Pilgrims Delegation Committee, of which he is the leader and would return to Mubi immediately the meeting is over,” Elias said on behalf of the Emir.

The emir cautioned rumour peddlers to desist from spreading information that had no basis and had created panic among the people of Mubi.

He explained that there was no insurgency in Mubi and no Boko Haram casualties anywhere in Mubi North, Mubi South and Maiha Local Government Areas.

Meanwhile, Nigerian law enforcement agencies have been directed to restructure their crime registry so that vital information about offenders are stored digitally under a new counter-terrorism plan in the country, reported Technology Times yesterday.

According to a counter-terrorism document from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the digital database of terror offenders is one of the key highlights of the newly introduced strategies by the intelligence community in Nigeria to win the war against terrorism in the country.

ONSA said it is making inroads into the relatively new space of terrorism because the security agencies have the responsibility to support the protection of crowded spaces, hazardous and potentially vulnerable or at risk sites, as well as offer advice on a range of threats and dangerous substances.

ONSA’s National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) focuses on key points including increasing the capacity of government institutions and relevant agencies in handling extremists.

The strategy was developed to offer a key blueprint for law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism.
ONSA has said the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the government agency that manages the country’s identity programme, will play a vital role in ensuring that all Nigerians are identified through biometric data capture with the introduction of the new electronic identity card.

According to the 48-page document, ONSA has also directed the widespread deployment of close circuit television (CCTV) to be used for traffic and crime management.

ONSA reckons that the effectiveness of CCTV would depend on the availability of a credible and reliable database that will aid prompt verification of traffic offenders and criminals by security agencies.
Under the plan, such CCTVs should be linked with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigeria Police electronic data for the purpose of verification and investigation, ONSA said.

 

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