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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Tension In Maiduguri As Insurgents Advance

Tension is mounting in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, due to a report that Boko Haram insurgents are consolidating their hold on Bama and even providing some socio-economic needs for those trapped in the town while preparing to advance to Maiduguri.

Soldiers deployed to reclaim the town have not been able to enter Bama; they were said to have camped at Kawuri, a village under Konduga local government area, which is about 25km from Bama.
Soldiers were said to have killed about 50 0f the insurgents at Kawuri village which is the only settlement before Konduga. Konduga is about 35 kilometres to Maiduguri and was repeatedly hit in previous attacks by the insurgents.
Information got from the Defence Headquarters twitter account said one fabricated artillery gun, two anti-aircraft gun, an armoured vehicle and assorted types of ammunition were captured in the process.
Some hardware, weapons, food items and personal belongings were also destroyed in the raid while one officer and two soldiers were seriously wounded.
But LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered from an escaped resident of Bama, Malam Gire, that they had to make a U-turn in their bid to return to Bama after the state government officials assured them on Tuesday that all was fine in the attacked town.
We couldnt return to Bama as we intended to do because some of our people who managed to escape on Friday and arrived Maiduguri told us that the Boko Haram terrorists are still in Bama and are now taking charge of affairs in the town, said Gire. They said the Boko Haram have broken into most of our shops and are looting our wares and distributing them to themselves and some of the women and children that are there in the town. They said they have also gone to open the towns borehole and were asking the women to go fetch water there. So we had to stay put and rest the urge to return.
An official of the Civilian-JTF, Garba Danbatta, had confirmed to LEADERSHIP Sunday that they still had not been able to go to Bama as earlier planned, even though he said they were still strategising on how to go about reclaiming the town.
We have not been able to enter Bama yet, but we still have the intention of going there as soon as we have perfected our plans, he said.
Another displaced resident of Bama, Mastaa Garba, who is currently taking refuge at the NYSC orientation ground in Maiduguri where most of the displaced residents of Bama and others from Koduga are currently being camped by the Borno State government, had ruled out the possibility of returning to Bama anytime soon.
Apart from attacking the soldiers in Bama, the Boko Haram gunmen had selectively attacked and killed some of our people and neighbours before we too managed to flee into Maiduguri on Tuesday, said Garba.
They were too many that came in various vehicles and armoured tanks; we initially thought they were soldiers, but, from the appearance of their outfits, we quickly realised we were in danger. Some of us fled since Monday but we managed to escape the next day and ran towards Kawuri; from there we realised it was still not very safe, so we had to proceed on foot to Maiduguri.
LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt from one of the Borno State government officials that more than 3,000 displaced people of Bama had been camped at the NYSC orientation camp and Yerwa Girls Secondary School in Maiduguri.
Though the atmosphere in Maiduguri appeared normal, residents were still overwhelmed by fear for their lives over possible attacks.
Students and staff at the campus of the University of Maiduguri were also deeply scared by the rumoured plans of the Boko Haram to attack the town; the university campus is located right outside the city along the road leading to Bama.
Halima Muhammed, a 300-level student of the university, told LEADERSHIP Sunday on phone that we are so much scared because we are very close to the road leading to Bama, and if they are to come attacking, as it has been rumoured, we doubt if they would spare us because they have to pass in front of our school before getting to the town. We are about writing our end-of-session exams but most of us hardly go out of our hostels to read at night because of this development.
A member of the Civilian-JTF who works closely with the military as informant had revealed that soldiers had been able to engage Boko Haram terrorists at a village near Konduga where they killed unspecified number of the insurgents and recovered a cache of rifles and ammunition.
The soldiers were able to kill many members of the Boko Haram who were camping in a village near Konduga, where they have recovered over 40 rifles and many ammunition but they have not been able to invade Bama town up until now, said the source.
Thunderous sounds of heavy shooting had continued to echo into the city of Maiduguri from the direction of Konduga, all through yesterday, a situation that caused many residents, especially those in the university campus to cringe in fear.
Insurgents strengthen hold on Gulak, annexes more towns
The insurgents who took over Gulak, headquarters of Madagali LGA on Friday, have consolidated their hold by also annexing Kirchinga and Duhu Shuwa towns which shares borders with Gulak.
The acting governor of Adamawa State is from Kirchinga town, while the former political adviser to President Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, is also from the LGA.
The Adamawa State government has even confirmed the annexation of Gulak by Boko Haram insurgents, saying that they had killed and displaced scores of people.
In a press statement signed by the secretary to the Adamawa State government, Professor Abdullahi Liman Tukur, the state government said: It has come to the attention of the Adamawa State government that insurgents are now in Gulak, the headquarters of Madagali local government area, and have killed and displaced scores of people.
The statement continued: On behalf of the people and government of Adamawa State, His Excellency deeply sympathizes with the people of Gulak in Madagali local government, and other surrounding villages and towns whose areas have been overrun by insurgents.
The concomitant effects of the insurgency like displacement of whole villages and towns create multitudes of internally displaced persons whose management and welfare the government is left to bear.
The Adamawa State government will as much as possible try to soften the sense of anguish and depravation the IDPs are going through by providing some basic necessities of life, the statement said.
The state government said in response to the humanitarian crisis that ensued, the Adamawa State Management Agency (ADSEMA) in conjunction with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been directed to hasten the assistance to those affected by the insurgency.
The state government added that it is ready and willing to provide all logistical support to the military in order to uproot the insurgents from the state, adding that while the curfew imposed in the area is continually reviewed, citizens are advised to be calm and law-abiding.
Fleeing residents said Nigerian troops from, who were drawn from the Special Operation Battalion and the 3rd Division of the Nigerian Army in Jos, fled alongside the residents as the insurgents annexed the town without any form of resistance.
A source from the area alleged that the insurgents have converted residences of very influential citizens from the area including that of the acting governor and the former special adviser on political matters to President Jonathan, Alhaji Ahmad Ali Gulak, as their operational bases.
A source told this reporter that the insurgents were in control of everywhere, as both soldiers and residents of the towns have deserted them.
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