By Okanga Agila
Somewhere, within Damaturu, Yobe State, Maisandari, a suburb of the state capital, sitting on the eastern flank of Damaturu, some natives in the environs spotted strange visitors. Insurgents were already set out to unleash a horrendous attack on a defenceless population.
The locals sighted unusual racing Hilux vans in a convoy on nearby labyrinthine routes, with armed men. It was the evening of a Tuesday in April at about 5pm. the community as preparing to wind up for the day to retire home for a night rest.
The evil visitors announced themselves with the loud sounds of yelping tyres, which raised a maze of dust as they sped past localities. In their barely visible sight covered by dust, the natives could still spot the occupants wielding heavy guns in the air and the trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns.
Danlami a farmer tending to his vegetable farm sensed trouble. He quickly drew the attention of Usman who was on a nearby farm to the gang he has sighted. Both were house neighbours in Maisandari.
Usman agreed seeing them too. The two farmers all concluded that they were “Mai Boko Haram,” a local coinage referring to Boko Haram insurgents.
Instantly, Danlami grabbed his cellphone and put a call to troops of Sector 2, Operation LAFIYA DOLE and alerted them of the strange movement. They averred soldiers with detailed description of the exact location the terrorists’ invaders on evil mission to attack Damaturu were spotted.
Shortly after, residents heard sporadic gunshots. The assailants announced their presence in the community in this manner. Perhaps, the insurgents were eager to celebrate a penetration of the localities or nearness to their target, Damaturu and to scare off Naija troops in order to freely kill and abduct people.
Loud chants of the familiar slogan, “Allah Akbar,” (God is Great) was heard as gunshots rented the air. It confirmed the identity of the assailants as Boko Haram terrorists.
Residents scurried for safety as people locked themselves into living rooms scared to the pants, as town criers hastily went round announcing immediate retreat into houses by civilians. Similarly, vehicular entry and departure from Maisandari was also restricted and the entire village cordoned.
The Commander Sector 2, Col “Sting” instantly swung into action, after Danlami’s distress call, by signaling his troops already on red alert to advance towards the vicinity of the enemy forces.
Within the shortest time, troops laid ambush for the Mallam Abubakar Shekau’s foot soldiers a few metres head of Maisandari village where the messengers of death in numbers were racing towards Damaturu.
Back home Danlami and Usman also kept vigil together around their houses quietly. Danlami first broke the silence; “The planned attack now was auspicious for two reasons,” and “what are the reasons,” inquired Usman.
“Insurgents are excited to launch a successful operation during religious festive seasons like Christmas and Sallah celebrations,” Danlami replied to Usman, while reflecting on the fresh trouble.
“I know the intended attack on Damaturu was to put people in pains and agonies for the Easter season,” retorted Usman.
News of the presence of insurgents circulated rapidly among the locals like whirlwind. A police officer, Sgt. Atiku attached to the police Outpost in Maisandari engaged his office colleagues in a conversation on the Boko Haram raid.
“You know, our leader, Sai Baba is in Dubai on an official visit?” Yes, replied a female Cop.
Atiku continued, “Sai Baba informed the Nigerian community in Dubai during a parlay that Boko Haram was occupying 17 Local governments in the Northeast before he came to power. But they have been routed out and the areas reclaimed under his administration.”
“But that’s the truth,” the female Cop admitted. “But terrorists and their agents hate to hear anything about them losing the war,” the female Cop stressed.
Atiku said, “Even if you believe Sai Baba, I don’t believe what he said anyway.”
“But what’s a lie or false on what Sai Baba said, we are here together, can you name just one local government still under Boko Haram captivity? ”asked the female Cop. Atiku could not answer; he became speechless and abruptly terminated the discussion.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Dubai where Sai Baba met the Nigerian community, a Boko Haram media officer who lives in the city monitored his speeches. He heard firsthand, Sai Baba’s utterances on the defeat of Boko Haram insurgency.
Minutes later, the Boko Haram media officer was on a telephone chat with Mallam Shekau, who is still recovering from his injuries at a hideout somewhere in the mountainous forests of Cameroun.
The terrorists Media officer bellowed angrily, “You heard what Naija leader is saying boastfully?”
“I have heard him too. But the remnants of our foot soldiers are getting lean by the day. Naija troops have caged us. We can neither recruit or train fighters,” decried Shekau.
“But we’re doing something, we shall release our best squad from the remnants to counter him on the battlefield to regain our lost grounds and put Naija military on tension,” Shekau feebly added with a pained voice.
“I have directed our top commander to respond to Naija on the field, right in the heart of any location in the Northeast,” Shekau added. The terrorists media officer heaved a sigh of relief, and promised Shekau to give it ultimate publicity when the atrocious act of attack is committed. But it turned out the opposite way.
So, the residues of insurgents fleeing the fire of MNJTF from the fringes of Chad, Niger and Cameroun came fully prepared in 14 Hilux vans and armed with anti-aircraft guns to repeal possible air strikes from government forces, gun trucks, 1.60 Millimeter Mortars, General Purpose Guns, AK 47 rifles and assorted ammunitions.
Nonetheless, the terrorists rather met their waterloo. Col. Sting who led the operation positioned his troops strategically on both sides of the road in the bush. When the insurgents got to the spot of the ambush, they were caged by troops and, a fierce gun battle ensued.
The Naija ground troops, assisted by air strikes overpowered the insurgents with superior fire force. A good number of the invading terrorists were killed in the encounter. Only a few insurgents were lucky to escape, as they abandoned weapons.
“Give them a hot chase,” the Commander ordered his troops. Naija troops raced after the terrorists and cordoned the entire Maisandari in a mop-up operation.
Inside Shekau’s camp at the forests, caves and mountains of the Cameroun, news of the defeat of the assailing terrorists by Naija troops hit him hard like a thunderbolt. He was shocked and lost appetite for a whole day. He couldn’t eat.
Cold shivers ran down his spine. Shekau reminisced how in 2013 he personally led his foot soldiers who almost captured Borno and Yobe states Government Houses. He silently marveled at the strength of Naija troops now.
But Shekau’s incarceration since middle of last year from wounds he sustained during an encounter with Naija troops has detached him from reality of terrorism on the field. Today, it is Naija winning the war unstoppably and not insurgents.
When Sai Baba asserted that Boko Haram has been defeated, those abreast with the war never doubted him. But Shekau and his media officer in Dubai, doubted and dared him to their peril.
Shekau misfired! Sai Baba has absolute trust in his troops led by Gen. TY Buratai, unlike the weak and poorly equipped Army Shekau and his men encountered on the battlefield in his heydays. The tale has changed and Sai Baba’s words on Boko Haram can be taken to the bank any day.
Buratai told the Commander-In-Chief that Boko Haram terrorism has ended and he believed him. Those who are still doubting Thomases, the Maisandari incident has cleared all doubts by the massive “waste,” of insurgents on an atrocious voyage in a scenario resplendent of a blockbuster movie.
Shekau should concentrate on nursing his wounds in the hideout of the Camerouns. But the message is clear that Naija troops today are properly trained by Gen. Buratai so amazingly and in top form for any assignment on their hands.
It is evident in the series of frustrations of Boko Haram insurgents in fruitfully executing gruesome attacks on any village in Naija, without meeting stiff resistance and the eventual defeat of the assailants. Maisandari is the latest statement of the practical proof of the worth of Naija troops led by Gen. Buratai.
And elsewhere, in the Northeast Naija troops are warming up for any emergency that may sprout out as Christians look forward to celebrating a blissful Easter. Normal life has since returned to Maisandari.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.