By Ndahi Marama,
MaiduguriChibok Local Government Area of Borno State, which is south and about 160 kilometres drive from Maiduguri, the capital city, has been in the news globally, especially on April 14, when some armed terrorists, suspected to be Boko Haram members, stormed Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok and abducted over 200 female students, after destroying classrooms and public structures.
Prior to the abduction, which has generated condemnations from the international community, there were no soldiers in Chibok.
On Sunday, June 29, no fewer than 50 people, mostly Christian worshippers, were killed in Chibok, while five churches, including Cocin, EYN and Deeper Life Bible Church, in Kwada village, about 10 kilometres from Chibok LGA, were razed when some gunmen laid ambush to the village during church service.
Investigations revealed that there is only a small military unit in Chibok with about 20 soldiers who were reportedly deployed after the abduction of the schoolgirls. There is also a Divisional Police Headquarters in the council headquarters (Chibok town) but the staff strength was unknown as inquiries were not answered over what our correspondent perceived to be security reasons.
The small number of security personnel in Chibok and the villages around Sambisa forest may be part of the reason that made it very difficult to defeat the terrorists who are suspected to have highly sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, while the security operatives are armed with AK47 rifles. Another reason is believed to be the poor accessibility to the remote villages as Boko Haram insurgents use motorbikes, bicycles to penetrate where military cannot go with their vehicles.
In addition, Borno State Government, particularly under the present administration of Governor Kashim Shettima, according to residents, has always treated Southern Borno with levity because it is not a Kanuri area and government officials, who mostly are Kanuri, seem not to worry so much about the Chibok people who are predominantly Christians.
Speaking to our correspondent, a 66-year old resident, Mr. Ezekiel Inuwa, a retired civil servant but now living in Kautikari, and lost one of his sons in last Sunday deadly attacks on three communities in Chibok LGA, during church service that claimed over 50 lives, said, “If we were to be Kanuri, the state government would have since come to our aid.
“In fact, in virtually all the local government areas attacked by terrorists in Northern and Central Borno which are dominated by the Kanuris, the state government responded quickly by deploying soldiers and other security operatives there. But as I am speaking to you now, there are some local government areas in Southern Borno for example Shani among others that have no military presence”.
Another woman leader in Chibok, Hayatu Yayi, 50, said the people of Chibok are being treated like outsiders by government since terrorists started attacking them. She said, “ It is really sad and unfortunate that we have been neglected by both the state and federal governments. We have been forced to live with the Kanuri as they don’t like Southern Borno people. We hope that the Savannah State we have been fighting for can become a reality so that we can cater for our collective needs promptly”.
A vigilante group member in Chibok, who did not want his name mentioned, said, on several occasions, their group had taken courage to storm Sambisa to rescue the abducted schoolgirls, but they were faced with lack of mobility and needed firearms that could overawe the terrorists, adding that all demands to the state government to assist them with mobility were turned down.