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Insurgents in IDPs camps: Waiting for the next explosion

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By Umar Yusuf, Yola

When President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office about five months ago, security was top on the priority of his administration as he immediately gave assurance to tackle the lingering security challenges with all the seriousness they deserve. And soon enough the new government was to take far-reaching decisions in this regard.

These included that the troops were re-mobilised as more sophisticated arms, ammunition and other military hardware were procured and other incentives given to them.

IDPs in Adamawa

A positive fall-out of this is that the Military have been able to liberate most of the occupied areas in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. With the reclamation of these hitherto occupied territories, the inhabitants who fled in the face of invasion by terrorists, are now returning en masse to their communities, villages and hamlets to start a new lease of life.

Lease of life

The happy re-union of these communities that were once scattered and shattered means a lot to the people, though many lost beloved ones to the rampaging terrorists.

But the most significant success of the prosecution of the war against terrorists is the current announcement that Sambisa forest, the operational base of the Boko Haram that was impenetrable for years, has been liberated. According to sources, every type of military hardware obtainable in the Nigerian military set-up was found in the forest.

But the dislodging of the terrorists from the Sambisa forest was to give birth to an unforeseen negative development. Following the fall of their enclave, thousands of the terrorists have been escaping into the hinterland to seek refuge and plan more dastardly acts.

The popular belief at the moment is that they might have infiltrated the towns, villages and cities within the Boko Haram-threatened North East states of the country. It has also emerged that the most convincing way for these terrorists to mix with the general population is to disguise as internally displaced persons and joining any one of the IDPs camps spread across the country, especially in the North East sub-region.

This new tactics by the fleeing insurgents is said to have only recently come to the attention of the military which appears to be more preoccupied with its offensives to completely flush out insurgents from the Sambisa forest. Consequently several insurgents are believed to be among the various IDPs in the country.

Sometime last month, over 12,000 indigenes of Borno State, who ran to the neighbouring Cameroun Republic when the terrorists came calling on the towns of Gamboru Ngala, Bama, Benisek, Konduga among others were evacuated to Mubi in Adamawa State. In the process of screening the returnees, no fewer than 80 of them were discovered to be members of the dreaded terrorists. More returnees have been trooping from their hideouts to take cover in the IDPs camps.

The infiltration of the IDPs camps by the fleeing insurgents have made them vulnerable to attacks with Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs.

This has left the Military and other security agencies with the herculean task of fishing out these insurgents from villages, communities and cities, and more especially in the IDPs camps spread across the country. Failure to do this, it has been argued, could only mean that more explosions will take place in the IDPs camps in days to come. To buttress this fear, reference is being made of the explosion at the Malkohi IDPs camp in Yola, Adamawa State recently.

A day before the explosion, according some camp officials, over 200 new IDPs were brought in from the Sambisa forest and other liberated areas of Borno State. This suggests that among the new arrivals, there are scores of the insurgents who might have escaped security checks that would have established their links to the Boko Haram.

The argument of many observers is that the Malkoi IDPs camp blast could have been avoided if the new arrivals were subjected to thorough security scrutiny or screening. For instance, it was said that at a point, the inmates went wild to protest the accommodation of the new arrivals from Sambisa forest at the camp. Their grouse then was that those from the Sambisa axis have had a long stay with the insurgents who might have negatively influenced their ways of life. This, they added, might have negative influence on their children and other inmates in the camp.

As if to give credence to their fear, a few days after the skirmishes, some women who arrived in the camp were caught communicating with insurgents elsewhere. The discovery angered the Military top hierarchy and the new arrivals were hurriedly moved to an unknown destination.

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