BY NDAHI MARAMA
MAIDUGURI – Residents of Magumeri town of Borno state, Tuesday, accused the Nigerian military of failing to act on intelligence provided to them by locals on last week’s attack by Boko Haram on their community was about to take place.
The people of Magumeri said troops on ground had ignored all verifiable intelligence provided to them that Boko Haram fighters were assembling around their community.
The residents made this revelation at a stakeholders meeting convoked by the governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, to ascertain the veracity of the military’s claims that the soldiers suffered that led to the lost of personnel’s lives because the resident did cooperate with the Boko Haram Sect, and even allowed terrorists live in their houses..
Last week Nigeria Army spokesman, Brigadier General Kukasheka Usman, was quoted in the media accusing residents of conniving with Boko Haram fighters to carry out the attack.
At the fact-finding meeting held at the council chambers of Borno Government House in Maiduguri, which was attended by all heads of the security including the Nigeria army, Police Commissioner, Director State Security Services, DSS, Leaders of Civilian JTF and Vigilante/Hunters Association, the residents gave chilling evidence that indicted the Nigeria military in Magumeri of failure to act.
The residents led by the member representing Magumeri local government at the Borno state House of Assembly gave their testimonies on how they had been working with the military in ensuring that peace reign in the agrarian community.
The testimonies given by both the personnel of the DSS, CIB, and the police, all corroborated by the local Civilian-JTF all claimed that the military were aware that the attack was about to take place days before it happened.
The Head of Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) in Magumeri, Mr. Bello Nuhu Haruna, who led in the giving his testimony said hours to the ill-fated attack, he was in the office of the Commander of the military deployment in Magumeri where he informed him of the impending attack.
“The Commanding officer, a Captain invited me to his office some hours before the attack asking for the details of the location where Boko Haram fighters were said to be assembling, and I asked him to bring out the map where I gave him all the necessary information. But I am not sure if anything done in response to that before the attackers came. ‘
Similar the Bureau head of the DSS in Magumeri, Mr Tim Modalla, said he had gathered intelligence four days before the attack that Boko Haram fighters were gathering at a location not quite far away from Maiduguri.
He said received an intelligence that Boko Haram were gathering in some villages around Magumeri, and they and continued to shift their base closer by the day until the eventually stormed Magumeri with about 45 vehicles and large number of motorcycles.
“We picked the report and transmitted same to the military telling them that it is possible that Boko Haram would bring attack to either Magumeri, Mobbar or Gubio towns. And as predicted on the 15th of March I was informed by a civilian-JTF that our town was about to be attacked. And I told him to quickly alert the Captain, and the Civilian-JTF Operative said he was at the military base four times to alert them of the attack”.
A well known elder and community leader of Magumeri, Goni… said the Nigerian military was unfair for accusing them of connivance with the Boko Haram. He said the reason Magumeri has never been attacked in recent times was because he led other residents in helping the security operative with all information needed to help them fight back Boko Haram.
“ On several occasion, despite my age, I would climb telecom masts together with some of our youth to ensure that we keep track of any Boko haram movement”, he said. “And any information we get are reliably relayed to the military”.
On the day of the attack, some few hours before it happened I got a call in Maiduguri from Magumeri that we were about to be attacked; and I quickly called the military commanders that I have their numbers to adequately inform them. But nothing was done. So how could they have accused us of helping the Boko Haram. That is not fair.
A leader of the Civillian-JTF in Magumeri , Mr. also said he got a hint in the morning of that attack that a large number of Boko Haram fighters advancing towards their village. He said he personally relayed the information to the Commander of the Troops.
“When I received the information the Boko Haram fighters were about 30km away from Magumeri,. So I had to run to the soldiers’ camp to inform the Captain who is the commander that this is what was about to take place. Some few minutes later, I ran back to the captain upon receiving the information that the attackers were about 20km away. When they were less than 10km I still went back to the Captain to alert him. On my fourth trip back from the camp, when I was about to mobilise my boys to move into the soldiers camp, the Boko Haram fighters invaded the town, and began to attack the base. That was how all of us, including the soldiers took to our heels. So I still don’t know why we are being accused of helping the Boko Haram after all these information we have provided to them.
The Garrison Commander who represented the G.O.C at the meeting described the development as unfortunate even as he said he would not speak on why the Army Spokesman had issued the statement suggesting that the resident connived with the Boko Haram. But he did confirmed receiving early intelligence from some of the community leaders informing him about the impending attacks, hours before it happened.
Borno state governor had expressed sadness over the development even as he said he would have to assist both the military and paramilitary security operatives in Magumeri with working tools to effectively combat Boko Haram in their areas. End