BY NDAHI MARAMA
MAIDUGURI—The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Ahmadu Mohammed, yesterday, escaped death as angry soldiers opened fire on his official vehicle when he came to address them at the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
This came as local villagers succeeded in repelling a Boko Haram attack, killing about 200 of the sect members in the process.
Conflicting reports said the soldiers rebelled when they were forced to return to Maiduguri from Chibok as they considered it unsafe. The soldiers argued that it was dark and dangerous to return to Maiduguri that night.
They therefore requested the GOC to allow them spend the night in one of the villages considered to be safe for them, but the GOC insisted that they must return the same night and report to Maiduguri.
Another source said the soldiers went on an operation in Kala Balge council area of the state but they were instructed to withdraw from the assignment and return to Maiduguri immediately. The source said on their way back, they were ambushed leading to the death of some soldiers.
According to the source: “The troops arrived with the corpses of the slain soldiers to Maimalari barracks while the GOC was addressing some troops on the ongoing operation against the insurgency. But when the soldiers sighted the corpses of their deceased colleagues, and learnt about how they died, they condemned the way their superior officers allegedly treated them in the course of the operation, and therefore started shooting sporadically, while others opened fire on the GOC’s vehicle as he narrowly escaped from the scene”.
According to the source, “what angered the soldiers most, was the unnecessary deduction of their allowances and subjecting them to harsh working conditions without proper equipment to carry out their duties and as a result, many of them were being killed like rats by the insurgents”.
DHQS to probe incident
According to BBC Hausa service monitored in Maiduguri by our Correspondent, “the Defence spokesman, Major General Chris Olukolade who was called on phone could not answer, but a text message was sent to him and he later replied that, “it was an internal affair which has since been resolved”.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has set up an enquiry into the incident. A statement issued later, yesterday, from the Joint Information Centre of the Counter Terrorism Campaign and signed by Major General Chris Olukolade said: “The 7 Division of the Nigerian Army is to institute a military board of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the conduct of soldiers who fired some shots today (yesterday) while the General Officer Commanding was addressing troops in Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri.
“The incident occurred when the corpses of four soldiers who died in an ambush while returning from patrol duties in Chibok were being conveyed to the morgue. There is calm in the cantonment and all normal operations activities are ongoing“.
Borno indigenes rise up against Boko Haram, kill 200 in Rann
Meanwhile, residents of Rann, the headquarters of Kala-Balge Local Government Area in the North-Eastern part of Borno State, successfully repelled a Boko Haram attack and killed 200 of the insurgents.
But the residents want immediate military support in anticipation of a reprisal attack from the badly humiliated Islamists.
The bold move came as the previously traumatised local population in Borno State took their survival in their own hands and laid ambush for the insurgents that were approaching the village to raid and kill them as in past experiences.
Reports from Maiduguri said the residents who had turned a blind eye to the sect’s reign of terror decided to confront them.
Before now, Boko Haram had cowed the residents of local villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa but the people of Rann town in Borno State decided to fight back and killed about 200 of the Boko Haram terrorists in an angry reaction to their reign of terror.
Reports said “the abduction of the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok schoolgirls, has changed the orientation and attitude of the people who are now prepared to die fighting the criminal band who use Islam as a cover up for their atrocities.”
An eye witness account said this was the second attempt by Boko Haram to attack Rann after trying it about a month ago but were equally repelled. About 300 insurgents were on their way to storm Rann and other adjoining villages at about 4am yesterday but met resistance from the people who had advance knowledge of the impending attack.
“Exasperated with the endless terror unleashed upon them, local people have finally had enough and decided to take direct action to rid themselves of the menace.
“Early this morning, (Tuesday) armed with just traditional fighting equipment and charms, the residents launched a ferocious counter offensive as they were determined not to allow their town become a terrorist haven”.
One of the participants in the counter offensive said: “The people in Rann and its environs used traditional fighting equipment and charms to repel the attacks. We really confronted the attackers who were equally ready for fight.
“The villagers succeeded in protecting their dwellings from the attackers, killing about 200 members of the sect while many others escaped with serious wounds.
“Our people also recovered over 70 motorcycles that the attackers came in, including two Hilux vehicles and an Armoured Personnel Carrier, while some of the attackers were captured alive. ”The Rann battle lasted several hours.
How Borno villagers killed the insurgents
According to reports, the villagers who got wind of the plan, prepared for the Boko Haram attack by digging trenches for the purpose. The Rann village, located in the middle of a Boko Haram strong-hold, had been attacked by Boko Haram in the recent past.
According to reports, over 400 Boko Haram terrorists stormed Rann and neighbouring villages in the early hours of Tuesday, with their usual convoy of Hilux trucks, motorcycles and APC (Armoured Personnel Carriers) only to meet villagers ready for them this time.
The civilian villagers reportedly pounced on the terrorists with mere rocks, bows and arrows, local dane guns, swords and “charms”. Boko Haram members, said to be much frightened of Civilian-JTF, ran from the civilians. The battle reportedly raged till the sun came up and ended with the civilians killing over 200 Boko Haram terrorists, capturing several prisoners and recovering several of their vehicles.
Last week, Boko Haram terrorists ravaged Gondura Ngala town, reportedly killing over 300 residents. On April 14th, Boko Haram stormed Chibok and abducted over 200 girls.
The Shehu of Bama was reported to have ordered his citizens to go get guns, after his town was completely decimated twice by Boko Haram terrorists with no military response for the full eight hours of carnage.
Boko Haram Begins to Destabilise Cameroon
Meanwhile, Senior defence officials say that Cameroon has been infiltrated by Boko Haram and there are fears the nation, is drifting into chaos.
“Right now, we are being infiltrated by Boko Haram. The military has decided to strengthen the intelligence system to effectively counter this threat, which seems to be gaining local support,” Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesperson for the Cameroon Ministry of Defence, told IPS.
Governor of Cameroon’s Far North Region, Augustine Awa Fonka, told IPS that the precision with which the extremist group attacked a military post in the region on May 5, lends credence to the fact that the attack was carried out with the help of local informants.
Cameroon’s north western border runs along the length of Nigeria’s eastern border, stretching to Nigeria’s north-east — a Boko Haram stronghold.