BY EMMA UJAH, ALBERT AKPOR, KINGSLEY OMONOBI & NDAHI MARAMA
ABUJA – IN Continuation of its plan to Islamize Northern Nigeria, the Boko Haram Islamic Sect on Monday night invaded the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, barracks as well as a police station in Maiduguri, Borno State, killing five persons including a soldier, two policemen and two civilians.
Also, two other civilians were reportedly injured, as the sect members bombed the Gambouru/Ngala police station, the Joint Task Force, JTF, check point. The incident was said to have occurred at about 6.30 pm. Gambouru/Ngala is a border town with Chad Republic and 150 kilometres North-East of Maiduguri, the state capital.
To cripple the sect, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, yesterday, canvassed decisive actions against it, warning that the earlier the government took the bull by the horn and acted decisively, the better for the future of the nation. He anchored the need for decisive steps on the fact that the menace had spread to other parts of West Africa.
Ihejirika’s warning came on a day the Department of State Security Service (SSS) quizzed immediate past Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau over his alleged involvement in the sponsorship of the sect.
Time to deal with sect - Ihejirika
Welcoming members of the House of Representatives Committee on Internal Security to Army Headquarters, Ihejirika said Boko Haram and other security issues could not be solved by a wave of the hand.
He thanked the National Assembly for its concern for the well-being of the country. He said that the Nigerian Army remained apolitical and committed to the job of supporting civil authorities to enhance security.
He reiterated his call on the citizenry to provide all the support required by those in arms to serve the nation better.
Noting that soldiers were the representatives of Nigerians when it comes to the force of arms, he said, “you need to recall the phrase that war is of such importance that it cannot be left in the hands of the security agencies alone, just as national security issues cannot be left in the hands of service personnel alone.”
The Army boss urged all well meaning Nigerians to aid the crusade, expose evil among the people so that the problem could be nipped quickly for the nation to move forward.
”I can tell you that this development; even the problem of Almajiri and so on cannot be solved just by a wave of the hand. So we are delighted to have you in our midst and note your resolve at working with us to solve this problem at hand.”
Continuing he said, “we are also looking beyond the confines of this country; the whole of the West African region is looking up to this country to find a solution to the menace of Boko Haram because it is no longer news that the Boko Haram issue is not limited to the confines of our borders and the earlier they act decisively, the better for the future of this nation.”
Confirming the Maiduguri attacks, the Borno State Police Public Relations Officer, Samuel Tizhe said, the attacks were simultaneously carried out at both the Air Force Barracks and the Gambouru/Ngala police station between 6pm and 6.30 pm, adding that the suspected gunmen attacked one of the apartments in the barracks and fired several gun shots at the soldier, who was returning to the house in mufti.
According to the police, the sect members also, killed two other civilians resident in the barracks after killing the soldier in mufti. The Gambouru/Ngala police station was attacked with guns and other explosive devices, killing the two police officers on duty, and injuring two others, on their way to the office.
Gambouru/Ngala is one of the five local governments in Borno where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on December 31, last year.
The police spokesman said the bodies of the soldier and two civilians have been deposited at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UMTH, for identification by their relations.
He however said that no arrests had been made over the attacks but investigations were on going.
The Fields Operations Officer of JTF, Col. Victor Ebhaleme said that no soldier was killed at the Polo military checkpoint attacks, adding that the only soldier who was shot in the arm had been treated and discharge from the UMTH.