…Cholera epidemic, hunger tear Boko Haram apart as 80 fighters defect from Shekau’s faction
…Military alerted to planned joint ISWAP/defectors attacks on Baba town in Borno
…Arewa youths claim bandits kill 11,000 in Zamfara
By Kingsley Omonobi & Ibrahim HassanWuyo
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday asked indigenes of Kaduna, especially Southern Kaduna, to cooperate with the government and security agencies to secure peace and harmony in the state.
The President, who made the plea during his speech at the fifth edition of the KADINVEST, the state’s annual economic and investment forum, spoke as indications emerged yesterday that the fighting capacity of Abubakar Shekau’s faction of Boko Haram has been further weakened by a sudden defection of about 80 fighters to the ISIS-linked Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, according to sources, conversant with the terrorist group.
These came on a day Arewa Youth Forum, AYF, claimed they that bandits have so far claimed killed no fewer than 11,000 adult males in Zamfara State, rendering 22,000 women widows.
Buhari’s call for peace comes amid recent efforts to secure the state from incidents of violent crimes.
For example, Southern Kaduna has endured ethnic violence this year, prompting the Federal Government to send Special Forces to the region.
“We must live together as brothers and sisters because without peace, development cannot take place,” Buhari said.
In his remarks, Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, said he was committed to ending the Southern Kaduna issue which, according to him, dates back 40 years.
The governor said the state has attracted more than $800 million of local and foreign investments since 2016, adding also that that state has had investment announcements of over $2.1 billion in 2020, far ahead of Lagos and any other state in the country.
Also, Vanguard gathered yesterday that the fighting capacity of Abubakar Shekau’s faction of Boko Haram has been further weakened by a sudden defection of about 80 fighters to the ISIS linked – Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, and the outbreak of Cholera in their camp, according to sources conversant with the terrorist group.
Recall that the ISWAP faction is jointly led by Amir Abubakar Ba Lawan and Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, one of the surviving sons of Boko Haram jihadists founder, the late Mohammed Yusuf.
According to the source, the recent defection of JAS fighters with their families followed the outbreak of deadly cholera epidemic which was further exacerbated by hunger in the Abubakar Shekau’s JAS stronghold.
This, according to the source, was further made worse by the failure of the terrorist leadership to prepare for and manage food shortage and the disease outbreak during known periods of heavy rains and floods in their hideouts and camps.
He noted that one of the most fundamental reasons for this was the fact that the Shekau’s faction was in serious dearth of arms and ammunition to carry out attacks and seek for food and other necessities.
It was learnt that many of the defectors are said to have expressed disappointment in the continuous power mongering, selfishness and tyrannical rule under Abubakar Shekau.
“To compound their dilemma, the faction has been unable to maintain control of its area of influence in Northern Borno after a series of internal leadership crisis and factional competition for territorial control, with rival units loyal to the ISIS affiliated ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorist’s group faction.
“This massive defection, which is an additional battlefield and moral disaster for Abubakar Shekau’s Boko Haram terrorists group’s JAS faction, exposes the insignificance and fragility of the group’s loose cell-based structure kept together only by a thread of irregular propaganda materials and the reliance on the asymmetric nature of the insurgency to gain relevance.
“It reaffirms the weak and shadow state of Abubakar Shekau’s leadership hold on JAS faction. Although he may still be alive and in-charge of JAS, his faction is only relevant when connected to the activities of ISWAP against the interest of JAS.
“ISWAP has been the most active of all jihadists/armed criminal gangs in the region. However, the ISIS linked ISWAP is also at its weakest capacity since it pledged allegiance to ISIS in March 2015.
“Its unstable leadership and unit commanders have been severely depleted, following the series of successful ground and aerial coordinated offensive attacks by the Nigerian Army, Chadian forces, and regional troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF,’’ the source said.
Sources on the ground have also said that the ISIS affiliated ISWAP has provided a safe haven for the families of the defectors, adding that they were made up of 10 females believed to be their wives and about eight children (3 girls and 5 boys) aged between eight and 10 years old.
Meanwhile, sources have alerted military authorities of planned series of joint ISWAP and the defectors’ attacks against Nigerian troops and other security agencies deployed in Baga general area.
A source said: “Some of the defected fighters have already been deployed among their hosts to familiarize themselves. The identified locations are along the Fish Dam areas in Baga general area, with a particular location given as Garin Mata showing significant presence of the newly deployed defectors.’’
Sources described the Baga axis as a very strategic location for ISWAP activities, as maintaining presence in Baga was key for the jihadists’ group’s daily survival, recruitment and fund raising activities.
“ISWAP may be prepared to make sacrifice in their determined efforts to prevent and frustrate planned relocation of IDPs to Baga town and the holding of the first local government elections planned for November 28, 2020, by Borno State government.
“Defections, internal rivalries and successful counter-insurgency efforts need to be comprehensively coordinated and sustained from the ongoing onslaught of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ to ‘Operation Boma Wrath’ and the existing MNJTF ‘Operation ‘Yancin Tafki, the sources said.
Meanwhile, killings by bandits in Zamfara State has cost the lives of 11,000 adult males and created at least 22,000 widows, according to Arewa Youth Forum, AYF.
National President of the group, Alhaji Gambo Gujungu, who disclosed this in a statement explained that the killings had also created some 44,000 orphans at an average of four children to a deceased person.
“It’s worrisome that the present situation of incessant and barbaric killings, maiming, kidnapping for ransom, rape, cattle rustling and wanton destruction of property and economic assets by devilish forces of evil and blood thirsty insurgents has reached an unimaginable and horrendous proportion in a region which was hitherto peaceful and calm, called Northern Nigeria.
“Inf act, hardly a day passes without such incidents occurring. Of great disturbance equally, is the fact that the lives of Nigerians in towns and villages within the zone are now completely at the mercy of armed marauding bandits, wreaking havoc at will, which is negatively affecting the socio-economic activities of locals, in spite of intervention of security agencies.
“Therefore, in view of this state of affairs and pursuant to Arewa Youth Forum’s Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building (CMPB) Project, we undertook a deep and holistic research aimed at finding out the root causes of the persistent security challenge, with a view to finding lasting and sustainable solution.
“Our preliminary findings showed that within eight dark years of banditry in Zamfara State, a conservative figure of about 11,000 adult males that were bread-winners of their families were killed, leaving behind an estimated conservative figure of about 22,000 widows.”
‘’In another alarming breath, an estimated conservative figure of 44,000 orphans at an average of four children to a deceased person has been caused by the killings. It is worthy to note that in terms of frequency and the alarming casualty ratio, Zamfara State is ahead of many states in the country that experiences security challenges, but receives less prominence in terms of attention from mainstream media in terms of objective clarion call reporting, and most importantly, Federal Government’s attention based on recognition and intervention.”