- As Gwoza Emir Vows To Remain In Exile, Faults Claims By Military Of Defeat
- Insurgents Rebound, Kill Royal Prince, 36 Others, Plan Ramadan Mayhem
- Military Intercept Spies, Kill 35, Arrest 82, Rescue 247 Hostages
There is anxiety in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, and its surroundings following reports that several Boko Haram elements may have found their way back to town with the intention of causing further mischief, even as one of its spies was reported to have been nabbed by the military, and has confessed to the influx of several of his types into the ancient city.
nationalTRAIl correspondent reports that the Nigerian military has been put on red alert following reports that several of the insurgents were reported to have escaped from the Chad and Nigerien borders into Maiduguri as a result of sustained offensive by French and British troops, now lending support to the two countries.
This is even as Captain Abdulrazaq Idrissa Timta, a Prince from Gwoza and brother to the Emir of Gwoza, HRH Muhammadu Idrissa Timta was among the Nigerian soldiers killed on Friday in a gun battle with Islamic militants, Boko Haram. Nigeria’s Defence ministry said that 30 soldiers killed in the battle are Nigerien military while two are Nigerians including Captain Abdulrazaq Idrissa Timta.
Boko Haram attacks on troops in Bosso, a border town of Niger, which is located close to Abadam local government area of Borno State left hundreds dead and many others injured in a battle that lasted for six hours, military sources said, on Sunday afternoon, that at least 32 soldiers were killed in battle with Boko Haram militants on Niger’s border on Friday.
Military source in Nigeria said, Capt. Abdulrazaq Idrissa Timta’s body is already on its way to Maiduguri where it will be buried, even as it was also gathered that, dignitaries have started trooping to Maiduguri for the burial, among them Senator representing southern Borno in the red chamber, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who is also from Gwoza.
And in seeming admittance that Boko Haram insurgents are still lethal, the Nigerian military has alerted on possible plans by the terrorists to cause mischief during the month of Ramadan, alerting citizens to be proactive and to report any suspicious intents to security operatives.
The alert was the outcome of vigorous intelligence gathering to the effect that, while Boko Haram may not be as dangerous as they were before, they are capable of carrying out attacks on soft targets, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, when people may be going about trying to meet their religious obligations.
In yet another of its operations in a Boko Haram stronghold at Chukungudu Friday night, troops of 22 Brigade Garrison, 153 Task Force Battalion of 7 Division and 8 Task Force Division as well as the Nigeria Air Force Intelligence Surveillance in collaboration with the Civilian JTF reported to have killed 19 Boko Haram terrorists including their notorious leader called Ameer Abubakar Gana.
These encounters coming on the heels of other reported clashes between the military and residuals of the Boko Haram insurgents still clinging to their arms, and the recent arrest of some spies believed to be working for the terrorists, may have caused panic among many residents of Borno state. .
And against the background of recent remarks credited to the Emir of Gwoza in Borno state, Muhammadu Idrissa Timta, who after fleeing from his palace for the second time told journalists at his base in Maiduguri, that his kingdom is still under Boko Haram occupation and the assurances of safety in his Gwoza domain, in particular, is a deception, the fears have become even palpable.
In Maiduguri, the state capital in particular, residents who spoke to our correspondent, following the arrest of Boko Haram spy by Troops of 7 Division Nigerian Army last week said, the revelation made by the 28 year old suspect, Musa Mallam Aman, who was arrested around the Garrison Headquarters complex in Maiduguri metropolis confirms their earlier fears.
According to residents, there have been rumours of Boko Haram spies and kid female bombers in Maiduguri, but it was never a source of worry to them as they dismissed same as mere rumours, but recent events and the attendant arrest and confirmation of arrest by soldiers sends fresh fears amongst majority of residents who still feel insecure as they recalled their experiences in the last seven years of insurgency.
A Statement from the Army said, Preliminary investigation confirmed that the suspected Boko Haram spy hails from Maradi village in Niger Republic, adding that he was not alone as there were Boko Haram terrorists’ spies in Maiduguri.
Benjamin Audu, a civil servant in Maiduguri told National Trail on Sunday, that, although the Army claimed that efforts have been intensified to track and arrest his other accomplices, the fear now is that, “who are the people next door to you? We are living with over two million strangers. In every street in Maiduguri today, you see new faces, some of them don’t even know the areas they are staying, some will come to knock on your door seeking one help or the other. We have been living with terror for about seven years but I am more afraid now than I was a month ago.”
According to him, fear is being expressed among many civil servants, who can be approached by many beggars now on the street for alms and you do not know whether the person is actually looking for alms or trying to take a closer look at you. “As civil servants, we did recover from the bomb blasts at the Musa Usman Secretariat and we are faced again with fresh fears. This job is the only thing that is keeping me in Maiduguri otherwise I would have left since. My family is in Kaduna, if I get a job even with less pay I am ready to leave. I always tell people that, I am still afraid of staying in Maiduguri now this arrest confirms my fears.”
Another resident Musa Isah from Niger said, the arrest of Boko Haram spy, who the Army said hails from a village in Maradi in Niger republic has created stigma against him. He told Our Correspondent that, he was surprised at the sudden changes and responses he gets from people that sometimes he jokes with simply because someone was arrested, who happens to be from his place.
Speaking to us in Hausa, Isa said, “I came to Nigeria since I was four. I believe I am no different from any Nigerian but Boko Haram is keeping at a distance from us because they said the man arrested is from Niger. I did not take this funny. Everybody is afraid, this thing affects all of us but the way people behave nowadays surprises me.” He said
For Hanatu Danladi, she said fear has always been around everybody living in Maiduguri even though the military are winning the war against Boko Haram terrorists.
She said, “The fact that, we are still alive is something to thank God. We thought they have been chased out of Maiduguri, but the news that we are hearing that many of them are living with us is something to seriously think about. I am a human being and I saw what these people do here in Maiduguri. I am afraid, I cannot go anywhere but I hope that the soldiers find them and arrest them all.”
While debunking claims that, Gwoza emirate was completely liberated from the insurgents, Emir of Gwoza, Muhammadu Idrissa Timta said his people will not return home until the Boko Haram are completely destroyed, adding that, they (Boko Haram) are only defeated on the pages of newspapers.
Reacting to a statement credited to the Senate Leader Mohammed Ndume, who also hails from Gwoza, on calling on IDPs from Gwoza to return home, the Emir said, most communities in his domain are still under occupation by the terrorists and there is fear among his people.
According to him, some of the communities are yet to be liberated and includes: Ngoshe, Ashigashiya, and Barawa adding that other border communities with Cameroon Republic are strictly under the control of the sect members with over “10,000 persons still trapped in Mandara Mountains (Bayan Dutse).
nationalTrail also reports that, last Thursday night’s ambush and another one on Friday morning left no fewer than 11 members of the Boko Haram sect dead, while a soldier was killed and three others sustained injuries in battle to clear Sabsawa and Ajiri villages of Konduga and Mafa local government areas of Borno state.
A statement from Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col Sani Usman made available to newsmen on Friday said troops of 202 Battalion of 21 Brigade in Operation LAFIYA DOLE had ambushed Boko Haram elements in which they killed three and arrested one of the terrorists at Sabsawa-Boarding road and BOCOBS-Ngurusoye road between June 1 to 2, 2016.
A captured Boko Haram terrorist, Umar Mustapha, who claimed to have come from Sabsawa has been handed over to the Brigade Headquarters for further interrogation and processing.
The troops have, however, continued with their clearance operations of the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists within the Sambisa Forest even as troops of 112 Battalion on patrol from Mafa to Dikwa were ambushed at Ajiri village by Boko Haram terrorists.
The statement said, “Although they successfully cleared the ambush, one soldier died in the process, an officer and 3 soldiers sustained various degrees of injury. One of the civilian JTF accompanying the patrol team was also injured.
“The team killed 8 Boko Haram terrorists and recovered arms and ammunitions at the ambush site. The recovered items include, 1 Rocket Propel Grenade (RPG), AK-47 Rifles, 2 Rocket Propel Grenade bomb, 3 AK-47 Rifle Magazine and 120 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.
“The troops also discovered 3 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) concealed by the edge of the road which were safely detonated by the Explosive Ordnance Device (EOD) team.
“The body of the soldier and the injured has since been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital, Maiduguri.”
In a related development, hundreds of Boko Haram terrorists who camp around borders of Chad and Niger were said to be fleeing attacks by foreign troops. Residents in the area told us that, foreign troops alongside troops from Niger have intensified attacks on Boko Haram insurgents in the Lake-Chad Island killing many on Thursday.
Although the report was sketchy, National Trail learnt that, the terrorists were seen moving towards Abadam local government area in the border area between Nigeria and Bosso town on the Niger side.
A resident of Bosso town in Niger, Abdoulkarim Salisou, in a telephone interview with Our Correspondent said, both the French and American Troops are coordinating the local troops in the attack, and are maintaining surveillance around the Nigeria, Niger border.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Military have rescued over 247 held hostages by BokoHaram militants, including women and children. Statement from the Acting Director Army Public Relations Col. Sani Usman Kukasheka and made available to newsmen said the rescue operation was carried in several operations by troops last week.
According to the statement, troops of 81 Battalion and 251 Task Force Battalion, 25 Task Force Brigade rescued 79 persons who claimed to have been kept captives by Boko Haram terrorists at Ngwalimiri village but escaped at their location. Adding that, the rescued comprised 12 men, 24 women, 31 children and 12 infants.
“All of them are undergoing preliminary investigation and screening to determine their status before onward movement to Internally Displaced Persons camp for rehabilitation.
The statement said in furtherance of the efforts to keep Bitta-Damboa road open and secure to commuters, troops of 28 Task Force Brigade have cleared Bulajani, Mulgwoi and Muotu villages of remnants of Boko Haram elements.
“During an encounter at Moutu specifically, a soldier sustained an injury on the forehead, while 5 Boko Haram terrorists were killed by the troops, while a few others were suspected to escape with gunshot wounds. The troops recovered 3 locally made guns.
“The advancing troops linked up with their counterparts of 25 Task Force Brigade at Gombori village and rescued 157 persons escaping from Boko Haram terrorists’captivity. The rescued persons comprised 47 women, 91 children, 19 men. They are currently undergoing preliminary investigation and thorough screening to also determine their status.”
Also Troops of 22 Brigade Garrison and their Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Dikwa have also embarked on routine and fighting patrols to maintain security on construction and rehabilitation works of public buildings and infrastructure that would facilitate return of public officials and people back to their ancestral homes.
In addition, the troops have been carrying out clearance operations and patrols to keep Maiduguri-Mafa-Dikwa-Gomboru Ngala road open and secure.
The troops of 26 Task Force Brigade on their part have intensified patrols and clearance operations in their area of responsibility.
“It was in that process that they discovered an Unexploded Object (UXO) and its casing at Hausari Street Gada Mayo yesterday afternoon.” the statement said.
Similarly, another patrol team of the Brigade successfully cleared Boko Haramterrorists hideouts along Gwoza-Kwatara-Kasa-Uvaha hills.
The troops also rescued 4 men, 2 women and 5 children that fled Boko Haram terrorists’ location at Uvaha as a result of the formation’s offensive against the terrorists.
In a related development 77 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered themselves to troops of 122 Task Force Battalion. They comprised 17 men, 16 women, 16 male children and 28 female children. The surrendered terrorists have been moved to Yamteke by combined team of 26 Task Force Brigade for preliminary investigation and screening.
Troops have also arrested a deserter soldier, 03NA/53/3098 Corporal Musa Titima of 117 Task Force Battalion, attached to 114 Task Force Battalion, who absconded from duty while on Operation CRACKDOWN at Bitta. The soldier was also allegedly involved in a fracas with Mr Salisu Ngatha at Kabang Ward on 30th May 2016 that led to the death of the civilian.
The soldier has been moved to the Brigade headquarters for proper investigation and other disciplinary process.
By Yahaya WAKILI, Maiduguri