BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI & NNAMDI OJIEGO
ABUJA—As condemnations trail Tuesday’s attack on police, army and prison formations in Bama town, Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists which left 55 people dead, the Nigerian Army said, yesterday, that the attack on the 202 Battalion Barracks, with rocket propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns was aimed at overrunning the barracks and creating mayhem.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru, who made the disclosure, however, noted that the attack was successfully repelled.
He gave the actual number of casualty recorded during the attack thus: “those killed in action include 21 Boko Haram terrorists, six Police officers, 14 Prison staff, two soldiers and four civilians, including three children and a woman. They were burnt to death by the insurgents”.
Attahiru added: “there has been heightened insecurity in the North East recently occasioned by unprovoked attacks by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga, Marte, Bama and Banki being the most recent. The Nigerian Army successfully repelled attacks on these locations and the situation has been normalized.
“At about 05 10 hours on May 7, 2013, suspected Boko Haram terrorists dressed in military fatigue (Army uniform) attacked 202 Battalion Barracks in Bama with rocket propelled grenades, general purpose machine guns, bombs, 18 seater buses and six Hilux vehicles fitted with anti-aircraft guns.
“The attack was aimed at overrunning the barracks and creating mayhem. It was, however, successfully repelled and the barracks was not in any way breached. The Bama Police Station, Police barracks, local government secretariat, INEC office, local magistrate court and a primary school were burnt by the Boko Haram terrorists.
“About 105 inmates were equally set free from Bama prisons. The items recovered include 4 vehicles, 14 weapons, 12 IED’s, assorted ammunition, several RPG tubes and bombs”.
Quick response groups to patrol major highways
“As part of deliberate efforts to contain activities of the Boko Haram terrorists from spreading, Quick Response Groups have been established to patrol major highways nationwide.
“The QRGs are to provide quick reinforcement of troops to troubled spots. The patrol teams operate along designated routes to check the spate of armed robbery, arms trafficking and kidnapping, as well as any other acts of terrorism. Since its inception, the QRGs have achieved some successes.
“They include reduced banditry along major highways while denying Boko Haram terrorists freedom of action. It has assisted in ensuring military presence along our highways; has denied Boko Haram terrorists and other criminals freedom to convey IED’s and its precursor materials.
“The QRGs have equally improved the Nigerian Army deterrence capability by its constant patrols of designated routes. Additionally, it has equally supported Operation Mesa troops to deal with immediate threats to their respective areas of responsibilities”.
Killings barbric, callous — ACN
Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has strongly condemned the attack on Bama town, saying the barbaric attack was another reason for stakeholders to work tirelessly to end the daily carnage in some parts of the north.
A human rights organisation, Youth and Conflict Resolution Initiatives, YCRI, described the attacks on police and military formations in Bama, as a direct declaration of war by the sect on the Federal Republic of Nigeria
In a statement in Lagos, yesterday by ACN’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said while every human life is sacrosanct, it is particularly saddened by the mindless killing of security personnel in the course of carrying out their duties of ensuring the protection of life and property.
It also described as barbaric and callous the killing of defenceless citizens, especially women and children, saying the perpetrators of the senseless killings have lost their sense of decency and humanity. “Nothing in the world can justify the kind of killings we have witnessed in recent times, and it is time those who are behind these orgy of violence stopped and retraced their steps,’’ ACN said, adding that the Bama killings, coming about three weeks after the Baga massacre, portray Nigeria as a country where human life has little or no value.
“This unflattering portrayal can only have negative consequences for our country, which needs all the goodwill of its global partners, all the foreign investments it can muster, as well as an environment conducive for urgent growth and development,’’ the party said.
It wondered what the insurgents wanted to achieve by attacking women and children in police barracks and targetting health centres, courts and local council secretariat, all areas most likely to be populated by innocent civilians.
ACN urged the Federal Government to work closely with other key stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the Boko Haram crisis, saying the time for flip-flopping and foot-dragging was over.
Also, while condemning the attacks, the group in a statement signed by its Director of International Relations, Mr Efemena Agadama, called on the Federal Government to consider state of emergency rule in the volatile northern state.
“We, again, call on the Federal Government to do more to protect the lives of security operatives by providing them with enhanced safety equipment, combat resources and moral support to combat the insurgency.
State of emergency in Borno
“The Federal Government should be considering all options for a state of emergency in Borno State to protect lives and property of all citizens and the security operatives. Or is the government waiting for the sect to kill everyone in Borno State before it considers a state of emergency?”
YCRI cautioned those playing politics with security situation in the country stressing that what the country is facing now goes beyond 2015 politics. “There is no country in the world that will be discussing politics and economy when a terrorist sect directs the affairs of a section of that country and in Nigeria, Borno seems to be a state under the command of the Boko Haram sect.”
The statement, however, called on stakeholders to support the JTF and other security operatives in their efforts to subdue the insurgents.