President Goodluck Jonathan and the ‘ghosts’ Boko Haram
By Taye Obateru, Kingsley Omonobi, Umar Yusuf, Victoria Ojeme & Ndahi Marama
YOLA— WITH the nation yet to recover from the shock arising from the massacre of about 58 students of Federal Government College, Bunu Yadi, Yobe State and abduction of 16 female students by Boko Haram insurgents last Tuesday, the sect, yesterday, moved to Adamawa where it attacked two local government council areas which share common borders with Borno State, killing 14 persons.
They also torched three branches of new generation banks before setting several other shops ablaze. The branches of the new generation banks, houses and shops destroyed were located along the major Maiduguri-Gombe-Adamawa federal highway.
Also, in Plateau State, two members of a family were killed and about 50 houses burnt in fresh attacks on villages in Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state, yesterday.
The two were killed at Diniyam-Rim of Riyom Local Government while another raid was launched on Rakok and Razat in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area even as several of the houses in the villages which were torched by the attackers were largely uninhabited as a result of previous attacks.
This came as the Army High Command redeployed the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, Major General Unsaid Bindawa, to the Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC, Minna, as Commandant, while the former Commandant of TRADOC, Major-General Mohammed Abdulkadir is now the new GOC of the 7 Division.
Vanguard sources said that three villages in Madagali, including Shuwa, Kubla and Kircinga were completely overrun during the attack in which 11 persons were reported killed. A junior seminary belonging to the Catholic Church in Shuwa, the Bishop’s House and the residence of a former commissioner, Hamisu Maidugu, were all said to have been burnt by the attackers.
In Michika Local Government, where three people were reported killed, the Divisional Police Station, an old generation bank and a shopping mall were all destroyed and ransacked.
Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that the attackers invaded the town at about 9:30pm and unleashed terror on the people for over four hours.
The sources said that, “the gunmen who were many drove in Toyota Hilux vehicles fitted with Rocket Propelled Launchers, RPL, and improvised explosive devices, IED’s, invaded Michika town at about 4am, yesterday and wreaked havoc on innocent civilians.
“While the gunmen were unleashing terror in Michika council area, another group of terrorists also invaded Shuwa village at about 4:45 am and set many houses ablaze before they fled without being caught.
“Also destroyed in the coordinated attacks in Michika and Shuwa villages were several commercial and private vehicles and motorcycles parked along major streets,” the source said.
The Army Public Relations Officer, 23 Armoured Brigade, Yola, Captain Nuhu Jafa’aru confirmed the attacks, but declined to give casualty figures.
Also, chairman of Madagali Local Government Council, Mr. Illarama Maina and the member representing Michika in the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Adamu Kamale confirmed the attack.
Meanwhile, residents of the two local governments have deserted their homes and are now taking refuge in nearby military bases or police stations.
The Plateau attack
In a related development, the interim chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Governemnt in Plateau State, Mr. Habila during a phone interview said the unknown gunmen stormed the villages in the early hours of yesterday, destroying whatever they found. They also reportedly set harvested crops and other valuables on fire, according to eye witnesses.
Similarly, the member representing Riyom Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Daniel Dem confirmed the killings, saying the two family members were sleeping in an isolated house when they were killed by the attackers, while two other family members were injured.
Troops kill six Boko Haram terrorists in Michika
Meanwhile, military authorities, yesterday, in Abuja promised a total elimination of the group in no distant time even as the Defence Headquarters claimed the troops had killed six Boko Haram terrorists in Michika, captured two others and destroyed nine of their vehicles.
Addressing the media on the intensified campaign to stop the Boko Haram attacks and killings, Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade noted that the new approach marks another phase in the operations designed to further contain the terrorists and their activities.
“The specialized campaign which has commenced is being undertaken simultaneously in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states. This operation is also in furtherance of efforts at apprehending the terrorists and ensuring that they do not escape out of Nigeria as they are now so desperate to do so,” Olukolade said.
He continued: “The Defence Headquarters acknowledges with grave concern, the recent mindless killings of innocent school children and other citizens in towns and villages following terrorists activities in some parts of the North-East.
“The dastardly act has expectedly attracted the reaction of well meaning individuals who have been condemning the senseless bloodletting. Disturbing as this trend proves, the fact remains that the chilly episode is simply typical of terrorists intention to intimidate the people into subscribing to their false claim of invincibility.
“This distressing situation notwithstanding, it must be pointed out that the current activities of the terrorist group are actually at best, a reaction to the renewed offensive against the terror outfit whose operatives had infiltrated the country to support their hitherto depleted membership and counterparts in their daring acts to relevance by embarking on renewed attacks on soft targets.
“Unfortunately, the terrorists have in the course of their flight towards various borders, continued to perpetrate mayhem as noticed in some parts of Adamawa State yesterday night, where they attacked communities.
Yobe attack: Troops not withdrawn
On disclosure by aides of the Yobe state government that troops stationed at a checkpoint near the Federal Government College, were withdrawn 24 hours before the terrorists attacked the school, General Olukolade said the allegation was not correct.
“It is wrong to say our troops withdrew 24 hours to the attack. Our troops there are on mobile patrols in that vicinity because we can’t be at every location. In fact, the closest checkpoint we have to that school is seven kilometres away. Troops are being moved around at random as a result of the security situation. Troops are not static. Troops that were moved from a particular location to another are to carry out other assignments. Also, it will be unrealistic for troops to be stationed everywhere. The situation there now is that everyone wants troops to be stationed at their house.”
Responding to a question as to how the terrorists moved all the way to the school without being caught and why the killings took place without security moving in, Olukolade recalled that during the attack at the College of Agriculture, the governor requested that GSM services be restored which was done under 24 hours.
“This time, they cut off all the telephone masts around the area and most of the killings were carried out through slaughtering so as not to attract noise because they know that gunshot sounds would have attracted some response. They only started burning and shooting on their way out following the screaming of students and teachers of the school.”
EU condemns killings
The European Union has also condemned the Yobe massacre. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton in a statement said: “I strongly condemn the horrific killing of 59 school children in Bunu Yadi in the North East of Nigeria, the latest in a series of brutal attacks by terrorists on innocent civilians.
“Those responsible for this and other attacks must be brought to justice and held responsible for their acts.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and the families. The EU stands firmly with Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and is ready to provide technical support to the Office of the National Security Adviser.”
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.