…Razes secretariats, residential buildings
…Pulls out hours after taking control
…Attack targeted at troops —Army
By Kingsley Omonobi & Ndahi Marama
MAIDUGURI— Boko Haram has pulled out of two local government areas in Borno State, Gubio and Magumeri, hours after taking control of them on Wednesday evening in coordinated attacks.
Vanguard gathered that the insurgents, yesterday morning, withdrew from the areas, which have had no military presence for sometime now.
Gubio and Magumeri local government areas have no military presence as troops were withdrawn recently for routine operational changes as enshrined in the military’s rules of engagement
Our correspondent gathered that hundreds of thousands of residents have been displaced, while others are under the captivity of insurgents, especially those who chose not to flee the attacks.
In Gubio, the insurgents invaded the council headquarters, shooting sporadically, instilling fears in scores of residents and setting houses ablaze.
Scores of people sustained injuries as they fled the areas.
Confirming the incident, Caretaker Chairman of Gubio Local Government Area, Zanna Gubio, said the insurgents stormed Gubio town at about 6pm, performed their magrib prayers at about 6:30pm and wreaked havoc on innocent civilians.
According to him, they set houses and other public buildings, including the secretariats of the two local governments on fire without confrontation.
Gubio said: “It is unfortunate that a week after deadly attack that took place in Gubio, which led to the withdrawal of troops, another group of armed insurgents stormed Gubio town at about 6pm, performed their magrib prayers at about 6:30pm in Gubio mosque before wreaking havoc on innocent civilians, and setting ablaze houses and public structures.
“I am currently in Maiduguri for the swearing-in ceremony of the newly appointed commissioners, and all of a sudden, I started receiving distress calls that my people are under Boko Haram attack.
“Although, I cannot give you the actual number of casualties for now, but from all indications and the reports I have so far, the insurgents have taken over Gubio shooting at sight and burning structures without confrontation.’’
In Magumeri, the insurgents, before taking over control, succeeded in razing down the council secretariat, other public structures and residential buildings, including that of a member of the House of Representatives of Gubio, Magumeri and Kaga Federal Constituency, Usman Zannah.
Reacting to the attack yesterday, Zannah said:“Two local government areas of Gubio and Magumeri where I hail from have been overrun by Boko Haram.
“As I speak, all good houses in Gubio and Magumeri have been set ablaze, including my House and the council secretariat. My people have been displaced, and there is nothing we can do than to bring survivors into Maiduguri.
“It is unfortunate that the insurgents took advantage of troops’ withdrawal from the affected areas to wreak havoc without confrontation.”
Pulls out hours after taking control
However, Vanguard learned, yesterday, that the insurgents have withdrawn their presence from the two local government areas.
They were said to have carted away several new and fairly used tractor tyres, which they seized from the two local government councils’ secretariat as well as food items seized from communities in the LGAs.
Mallam Ali Abba Kura and Babagana Mustapha in Gubio and Magumeri, who survived the attacks, told our correspondent that the insurgents were well armed and came in large numbers.
Civilian Joint Task Force member abducted
Reliable sources also said the attack in Gubio town led to the abduction of a Civilian Joint Task Force Member, CJTF (name withheld).
Another source also said, the insurgents were not on killing mission, as they kept telling residents not to flee during the attacks but accept their ideology.
‘’With first hand information at my disposal, no life was lost but a member of CJTF in his uniform in Gubio was taken away by the insurgents who also carted away several tractor tyres in Magumeri after destroying houses and public structures in both towns,” the lawmaker, Zannah, said.
Attack targeted at troops—Army
Reacting to the attacks, yesterday, the Nigerian Army in a statement by Col Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army in the Theatre of Operation Lafiya Dole has been drawn to reports on various media platforms indicating attack on Gubio and Magumeri communities in Borno State at about 17.35hrs (5.35pm) of Wednesday, August 21, 2019.
“To avoid further misinformation that could create unnecessary tension, the Theatre Command wishes to state that the attack was targeted at Nigerian Army troops deployed in the areas to enable the terrorists gain access to shops in the market in the towns to loot food items and other logistics.
“The attack was, however, repelled by the troops. Consequently, due to fierce exchange of fire, the terrorists were forced to withdraw in disarray from the town, resulting in damage on buildings and property along their route of withdrawal.
“There was no casualty on the security force (troops) and no loss or damage to our equipment as wrongly insinuated on social media.
“However, a vigilante sadly lost his life in a cross fire. Also, some civilians in the area reportedly sustained various degrees of injuries.
“Peace has so far been restored in the communities, with residents going about their lawful businesses.
“The Nigerian Army once again call on all well-meaning members of the public to collaborate with the military and other security agencies in the area of sharing of information and suspicious movement of criminals in their communities to proactively deal with criminal activities.”