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Boko Haram’s baptism of fire on Buhari

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By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
The Boko Haram terrorist group yesterday sustained its daily baptism of fire on the new Muhammadu Buhari administration, putting peace optimists on edge.

Yesterday’s double suicide attack in Shetimari in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno State led to the death of more than 20 terrorists who were led by the suicide bombers in a failed attack that was repelled by the Nigerian Army.

“Over 12 rifles and one machine gun were captured from the terrorist group as the attack was repelled. Also recovered from the group were rocket-propelled grenades, and some bombs,” the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade was quoted as saying in a statement made available to Saturday Vanguard. The exact number of the innocent people killed was still unclear as at press time.

The incident in Shetimari Village, which is about 80 kilometers southwest of Maiduguri follows the unprecedented attack on Yola, the Adamawa State capital that led to more than 30 deaths on Thursday.

The almost daily attacks since President Buhari’s inauguration last Friday is believed in some quarters to be the terrorist group’s response to the decision by President Buhari to relocate the command and control centre of the operations against Boko Haram to Maiduguri.

Following Buhari’s declaration as the winner of the March 28 presidential election, Nigerians had expressed the hope that the lingering crisis would become a thing of the past. However, the contrary has been the case in the last week.

Although the military has continued its offensive and rescued many women and children from the Sambisa forest enclave of the terrorists, the terrorists continue to spurt out venom now and then in different areas of the Northeast.

After Buhari’s formal declaration on Wednesday, April 1, the insurgents launched deadly attacks on different communities around Maiduguri before descending on the city on May 13, 2015. In their attempt to enter Maiduguri through Kayamula village near the 21 Armoured Brigade (Giwa Barracks) scores of people were left dead and injured as the troops repelled the attack.

That incident led to the imposition of a round the clock curfew in Maiduguri that lasted four days.

On Friday, May 15, 2015 the insurgents recaptured Marte Local Government Area of Borno State, killing 12 residents. Marte is a border town with Chad Republic and about 155 km North-East of Maiduguri.

On May 16, 2015 a 10-year-old female suicide bomber hit Damaturu Motor Park, in Yobe State, killing seven persons and leaving 30 others seriously injured.

On May 17, 2015 military authorities claimed they had killed scores of terrorists as ten additional camps used by the insurgents were overrun in the continuing offensive operations in Sambisa Forest.

Director Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade in an email message to Saturday Vanguard said that the ‘Dure camp’ which is one of the most prominent camps in the forest, witnessed the fiercest battle as the special forces descended heavily on it before it finally fell into the hands of troops.

On May 21, another group of insurgents laid ambush in three communities of Lehu, Mbulakudla of Askira Uba Local Government Area and Gatamwarwa village of Chibok Local Government Area, killing over 20 persons after sacking the communities.

Similarly, on May 22, a large number of suspected terrorists invaded Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State, killing scores of people.

On May 25, 2015, 30 members of the terrorist group were killed by troops in an encounter around Mafa Local Government Area of the state, with arms and ammunition recovered, along with large bundles of money in euro denominations which were found on the dead body of one of the Boko Haram commanders.

Six people were killed in an attack on May 29, the day of Buhari’s inauguration.

Insinuations that the movement of the Command and Control Centre of the insurgency operations to Maiduguri is the reason behind the daily attack has led to apprehension among some stakeholders in the region.

The decision has, however, been wholly endorsed by the former Chairman of Biu Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, Jubrin Gunda, who is also the legal adviser of the Civilian JTF.

“The action is highly commendable. If the military high command moves to Borno, there will be no room for excuses or failure, like we witnessed in the past,” he said.

Mr. Gunda, who is confident that the military would wipe out the insurgents in a short time said:

“The military will wipe out the insurgents in a couple of days or weeks”, said Gunda. “It is indeed a right step in the right direction.” He said that stakeholders in the state had been waiting anxiously for the inauguration of Mr. Buhari as the president.

“Everybody must commend the president for taking such a laudable step towards tackling the insurgency,” he said.

Unfortunately, the situation is perceived differently by some businessmen and women in the state, who expressed concern over the increasing cases of suicide bombings and killings in the state since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

They argued that the sustained bombings and killings by the insurgents in mostly crowded areas like markets have caused serious destruction to lives and property and make them totally out of business for fear of being caught up.

Alhaji Ali Usman Gwoza, a butcher at the Maiduguri abattoir which was bombed recently, said he lost four of his men to the blast which claimed over 30 lives, as well as property worth millions of naira, pointing out that it will be difficult for him to continue the business as all his hard earned money was lost in the blast.

The apparent inability of the military to profoundly take charge of the situation or exhibit superior power over the insurgents, one week after his swearing-in, is coming as a shock to supporters of President Buhari.

However, to underscore his determination to bring the group to extinction, the president made his first foreign trip outside the country to Niger Republic and Chad, two neighbouring countries who are expected to play decisive roles in containing the movement of the group’s members and resources within and out of the country.

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