Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on Saturday said the situation facing the state was a tough one and that Boko Haram terrorists had an “ultimate wish to take over the state and bring it under a sovereign brutal administration.”
Zulum, whose convoy came under Boko Haram terrorists’ attack in the Baga area on Thursday, for a second time, escaped because he travelled in a military aircraft, although the death toll has now risen to 30 persons from an initial 15 reported.
This is just as the pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, lambasted the Federal Government and the military over the Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on the governor’s convoy, saying they had “a lot of questions to answer.”
Also, a former Vice President and 2019 Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, called on the Federal Government to “adopt new strategies to deal with the menace of insurgency decisively.”
Security sources on Saturday confirmed to the Agence France Presse that the death toll had risen to 30 persons, giving the breakdown as 12 policemen, five soldiers, four members of a government-backed militia and nine civilians.
Sunday PUNCH learnt that it was now a custom for Zulum to travel to northern Borno by air because of the ravaging Boko Haram insurgency and since he was attacked by the terrorists in July 2020.
A close source said, “This (the Thursday’s visit) was not his first time travelling by a military chopper. It has become a custom after his convoy was attacked in the same Baga a few months ago. All his journeys since then to the dangerous terrain of northern Borno have always been by air and he uses military choppers.”
The Borno State Police Command on Saturday confirmed the Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on the governor’s convoy, saying 11 persons were killed while 13 others were injured. The police noted that the deceased were eight policemen and three members of the Civilian Joint Task Force.
The police also confirmed that the governor travelled by air, but had state officials and federal and state lawmakers in the convoy attacked by the insurgents.
The officials included the senator representing northern Borno, Abubakar Kyari; House of Representatives members, Mohammed Monguno and Bukar Kareto, who represent Marte, Monguno, Nganzai, and Mobbar Kukuwa, Guzamala, Abadam federal constituencies respectively.
The CP said, “On September 25, 2020, at about 12 pm, the security convoy, which was heading for Baga in respect of the government’s effort to relocate indigenes of Baga to their ancestral home came under heavy gun attack by armed men suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists a few kilometres from Cross Kauwa. The security convoy returned fire and successfully repelled the attack.
“In the ensuing gunfight, however, casualties were recorded on both sides. Unfortunately, eight policemen and three members of the Civilian Joint Task Force paid the ultimate price. Thirteen other persons sustained injuries and were rushed to a hospital for treatment.”
ACF slams FG, military, says Zulum must be protected
Meanwhile, ACF on Saturday lambasted the Federal Government and the military over the Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on the convoy, while warning that “nothing untoward must happen to Zulum.”
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, gave the warning in a statement in Kaduna State, titled, “ACF condemns another attack on Governor Zulum,” saying the latest attack undermined the public confidence in the military’s ability to defend Nigerians.
The ACF said, “We are alarmed that for all the assurances we have received from the military and the Federal Government of an improved security situation on the Boko Haram front, the deadly attacks and killings have continued regardless.
“These attacks have therefore raised questions on the ability of the military to ensure the safety of internally displaced persons to return to their homes. Finally, both the military and the Federal Government have a lot of questions to answer on what is going on in this endless war against insurgency.”
We are facing a tough situation, Zulum cries out
The Borno governor, Zulum, also expressed sadness over the killing of 11 security personnel in his convoy.
A statement by his spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, on Saturday said the governor noted that the situation facing the state was a tough one and taking no action would leave the residents more vulnerable to the Boko Haram’s agenda to destroy the state.
Gusau said, “Governor Babagana Zulum is saddened by this unfortunate carnage. He shares the grief of the families of these 11 priceless heroes to whom Borno shall remain grateful. The governor prays for the repose of their souls and urges all stakeholders to remain committed to ongoing peacebuilding efforts.
“The situation facing us is a tough one but we must choose between doing something which gives us some hope and doing nothing which will leave us more vulnerable to Boko Haram’s ultimate wish to take over Borno and bring it under their sovereign brutal administration.”
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday condemned the ambush on the entourage of Governor Zulum, while advising the state government to remain firm in its determination to restore normalcy to all communities liberated from the Boko Haram terrorists, despite the attack.
Buhari’s position was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled “President Buhari condemns attack on Governor Zulum’s convoy, mourns security men.”
Shehu quoted the President as describing the attack on Maiduguri-Baga route as an orchestrated sabotage against long planned return of displaced persons to their local communities.
The statement read, “President Buhari notes, with deep sympathy, the loss of lives of security men on the convoy, ahead of the return of internally displaced persons, commiserating with their families and loved ones.
“President Buhari urges security and intelligence agencies to intensify efforts to check sabotage, sanitise the roads, venues and locations well in advance of returning IDPs, while working closely with local communities.”
Atiku calls for new security strategies
Meanwhile, former Vice President and PDP stalwart, Atiku, said on his Twitter page on Saturday that new security strategies needed to be adopted in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
Atiku said, “The attack on Governor Zulum in which over a dozen security operatives were killed between Monguno and Baga should be a source of concern, not only because it is the second time such an attack is taking place in recent times, but because the Borno governor is not a soft target.
“This attack is yet another reminder that we need to adopt new strategies to deal with the menace of insurgency decisively. I convey my condolences to the families of the deceased. I stand with the government and people of Borno that Governor Zulum did not come to any harm.”
MNJTF rescues 12 hostages from Boko Haram, ISWAP enclaves
On Saturday, the Multinational Joint Task Force said it rescued 12 hostages from the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists on Thursday.
A statement by the MNJTF Chief of Military Public Information, Col Muhammad Dole, stated that it had sustained heat on the terrorists along the fringes of Lake Chad Basin.
FG gives aid to 22 displaced communities in Borno
Also, the Federal Government on Saturday through its humanitarian agency, the National Emergency Management Agency, gave out food and other items to 1,888 households in the affected communities.
Delivering the items to the representative of Borno State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Ahmed Kuma, the Acting NEMA North-East Zonal Coordinator, Ishaya Chonoko, who represented the Director General of NEMA, Air Vice Marshal Muhammadu Mohammed, said 22 communities, all in the Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, were attacked by insurgents in July 2020.
He noted that the 1,888 households after being displaced from their communities were now residing in Gongulon in the Jere LGA.
Meanwhile, several insurgents were reportedly killed at Tongule, Bone and Isari B Musa communities in Borno State during airstrikes carried out by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole under the subsidiary Operation Hail Storm 2.
Zulum: B’Haram IEDs claimed 18 lives, says military
The Nigerian military on Saturday formally reacted to the Boko Haram attack on the convovy of Zulum, saying 18 persons were killed from Improvised Explosive Devices planted by the terrorists along the road.
The Defence Media Operations, Abuja, noted that the troops, despite the ambush by the terrorists, captured one gun truck from them.
The DMO Coordinator, Maj Gen John Enenche, said, “The convoy of the Borno State Civilians Relocation Committee comprising Armed Forces of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Force and Civilian Joint Task Force was ambushed by members of the Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAP at Barwati village on September 25.
“The attack and ambush was, however, repelled by the troops. Sadly, a total of 18 lives including four soldiers, 10 Policemen and were civilians were lost during the sad incident. Troops on hot pursuit of the insurgents successfully recovered three vehicles.
“Two of the vehicles belonging to the Nigeria police were earlier carted away by the terrorists during the attack. Similarly, one Boko Haram gun truck was also captured.
“The casualties recorded were as a result of the explosion from the multiple Improvised Explosive Devices planted on the road by the terrorists. The army has since deployed bomb and IED disposal teams to ensure effective route scanning and clearance to forestall future occurrence.”