…Shops, schools, UN facilities destroyed
…3 soldiers, 6 others killed, UN facilities burnt in Damasak attack in Borno
…Insurgents take away medical consumables, ambulances, vehicles of humanitarian workers
…7 killed, worship centres, schools burnt, 5,000 people displaced in Adamawa
…Hoodlums invade police station in Cross River, cart away AK47 rifles
…Gunmen abduct Catholic priest in Imo; 13-yr-old in Ogun, demand N50m ransom
…Robbers kill two security guards in Ondo
By Kingsley Omonobi, Dayo Johnson, Chidi Nkwopara, Ndahi Marama, Umar Yusuf & Emmanuel Una
The insecurity situation in the country worsened weekend as Boko Haram and its sister formation, Islamic State of West Africa, ISWAP, again launched attacks on communities in Borno and Adamawa states, killing people and rendering thousands homeless.
No fewer than nine persons, including three soldiers, were killed in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State, while United Nations’ facilities were set on fire, forcing humanitarian workers to flee for their lives.
In Adamwa, no fewer than 5,000 persons, mainly women and children, were displaced at Kwapre village in Dugwaba District of Hong Local Government Area, when the insurgents invaded the community.
These attacks came as hoodlums on Saturday night, invaded Ekori police station in Yakkur Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State, carting away an AK-47 rifle with some rounds of ammunition.
This is even as gunmen kidnapped a 13-year-old boy in Ogun State, demanding N50 million ransom to set him free, just another set of gunmen also abducted a Catholic priest in Imo State but are yet to make demands.
In the Borno attack, residents told Vanguard that the Boko Haram insurgents invaded Mobbar Sunday evening and engaged the military who tried to repel them.
It was learned that in the gun battle, some of the insurgents were killed, while three soldiers also lost their lives.
The attack took place in the absence of Governor Babagana Zulum, who was said to have travelled to Ibadan to receive an award bestowed on him by authorities of University of Ibadan as ‘Most Distinguished Alumnus’.
In Damasak, some residents who survived the attack, told Vanguard that the insurgents also stormed the general hospital in the area and carted away medical consumables and equipment without confrontation.
A source told Vanguard operational vehicles and facilities of humanitarian workers, including those of the United Nations were either carted away or set ablaze.
The insurgents, who were said to have arrived the community in military-camouflaged gun truck, opened fire on a military formation, forcing many residents and security operatives to flee into Maiduguri town, until a reinforcement team, including mobile policemen, were deployed to restore sanity to the area.
The Damasak attack
Confirming the Damasak attack and killings, chairman of Mobbar Local Government Area, Mustapha Bunu Kolo, exclusively told our correspondent that the latest attack was very devastating and worrisome, especially as it targeted humanitarian hubs which had been assisting in no small measure to improve the lives of traumatized citizens.
“Yes, there was a devastating Boko Haram attack in Damasak yesterday night (Saturday). Most worrisome is the killing of six people when a military airstrike assisting ground troops fired at one of the Boko Haram vehicles that rammed into a family where friends and relatives had gathered in a ceremony.
“The insurgents destroyed all humanitarian hubs and their facilities after carting away foodstuffs at one of their main warehouses.
“The insurgents also went to General Hospital, and carted away medical consumables with a brand new ambulance stationed at the facility.” Kolo lamented.
He, however, appreciated efforts of the security agencies and members of Civilian JTF/hunters for repelling the attack.
All efforts to get a reaction from the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Edet Okon, proved abortive at press time.
In the Adamawa attack, over 5,000 persons, mainly women and children, were rendered homeless as Boko Haram and its ISWAP partner, attacked a village in Hong Local Government Area of the state.
Executive Secretary of Adamawa State Emergency management Agency, Dr Mohammed Sulaiman, who confirmed the attack yesterday in Yola, disclosed that many other communities in neighbouring local governments were also displaced.
He recalled that the insurgents came in nine vehicles on Friday to attack Kwapre village in Dugwaba District of Hong Local Government Area, adding that the insurgents surrounded the village and killed seven people, including three children.
“During the attack, 50 houses, worship centres, markets and schools were burnt. Many people, including women, girls and men, were kidnapped by the attackers. However, we received a report that eight persons among the kidnapped victims escaped. The displaced persons during the attack are taking refuge in near by villages,” he said.
The District Head of Dugwaba, Mr Simon Yakubu, who also confirmed the attack, said the insurgents invaded the village at about 1 p.m, shooting sporadically.
He said: “During the attack that lasted more than two hours, more than 20 persons were injured and no fewer than 20 persons are unaccounted for as at present. Places of worship, schools, shops, food stores and village head house were destroyed.’’
He said the injured had been receiving treatment at Hong General Hospital, while two persons who suffered critical gunshot wounds had been referred to Federal Medical Centre, Yola.
When contacted, Mr. James Pukuma, Chairman, Hong Local Government Area, said normalcy had returned to the area as security and local security groups had been deployed to protect lives and property.
He called on the people of the area to be vigilant and report any suspicious move to the nearest security agency for quick response.
DSP Sulaiman Nguroje, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Police Command in Adamawa, also confirmed the attack.
In Cross River, three gunmen on Saturday night invaded Ekori police station in Yakkur Local Government Area and made away with an AK-47 with some rounds of ammunition.
It was learned that a lone policemen who was on duty at the station was severely manhandled and his AK-47 and rounds of ammunition taken away by the gunmen.
“As I speak to you now, Ekori Police station has been placed under lock and key, while the policeman whose gun was taken away is being detained at Ugep Divisional Police Station where others who were working at the Ekori station have been asked to report,” a source told Vanguard.
He said nobody was killed and that the identity of the hoodlums was not known yet.
“Apart from the policeman who was manhandled by the gunmen, no other person was attacked,” the source who pleaded anonymity added.
Ms Irene Ugbo, the Cross River Police Command spokesman did not answer calls placed to her known telephone line.
Catholic priest abducted in Imo
In Imo, unknown gunmen kidnapped a Catholic priest, Rev Fr Marcel Izuchukwu Onyeocha.
Onyeocha, a professor of Philosophy at Imo State University, Owerri was kidnapped on Saturday night on Okigwe-Enugu Expressway.
He was on his way to Owerri from Enugu when the gunmen abducted him at the Ihube axis of the expressway.
A source who pleaded anonymity, said fear had engulfed the university community and Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, following kidnap of the cleric.
“Rev Fr Marcel Izuchukwu Onyeocha has been kidnapped. He was waylaid on the Okigwe-Enugu Expressway while coming back to Imo State from Enugu. He was actually kidnapped at the Ihube axis of the Road.
“As I speak to you, fear has engulfed the IMSU community as well as the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese faithful. Why will the priest be a victim of kidnap? Who did he offend? This is a man who has been reshaping lives and destinies as a don in IMSU. We pray he comes back unhurt,” the source said.
Vanguard learned the kidnappers had yet to establish communications since the priest, who hails from Avuru, Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State, was abducted.
When contacted, Public Relations Officer of IMSU, Ralph Obi- Njoku, said he had informed the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Akah, and the university’s Chief Security Officer about the priest’s abduction.
Confirming the kidnap yesterday, Imo State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Orlando Godson Ikeokwu, said in a statement: “On April 11, 2021, one Bissong Isa Atugu “m”, reported that on the 10/04/21, at about 7:45pm, while driving from Enugu to Owerri with a Nissan Xterra SUV, in company of one Rev. Fr. Marcel Izu Onyeocha of Mother Theresa of Golgotha Catholic Church, World Bank, Owerri, the vehicle developed fault around Ihube in Okigwe Local Government area, and as they stepped down to check the vehicle, a group of people believed to be herdsmen emerged from the bush and inflicted matchet cuts on him, while the priest was kidnapped and taken to unknown destination.
“Sequel to the above, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nadiru Mohammed, has activated all the tactical teams of the command, with a view to rescuing the priest, and possibly arrest the culprits.
“He however, calls for calm as the command will do everything possible to ensure the rescue of the priest.”
Similarly, unknown gunmen in Nigerian Army camouflage kidnapped a 13-year-old boy in Obada-Oko, Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The gunmen were said to have invaded Destiny Estate Community Association in Obada-Oko on Saturday around 9:15 pm, shooting in the air, and whisked away the boy identified as Gbolahan Ajibola.
A source told Vanguard that the gunmen have reached out to the family, demanding a sum of N50 million before the boy would be released from their captivity.
Narrating the incident, grandmother of the victim, Victoria Felix, said six gunmen invaded her house on Saturday night as she and her daughter, who is the mother of the victim, were entering the house.
“Last night, (Saturday) as we got to the entrance of the house, the boy opened the gate for us. Suddenly, he screamed. We thought he was bitten by a scorpion but as I was about to get down from the car to know what happened, I saw four gunmen beside my car, while two were at the gate and prevented the boy from closing the gate.
“I asked them what did we do? We gave them our two bags. They collected the bags and also the phones of Gbolahan and his mother.
“As they were taking him away, I held one of them by his cloth and insisted they should take me instead of him, they dragged us to the ground and started shooting,’’ she said.
Efforts to reach the the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, for comment proved abortive yesterday.
Meanwhile, dare-devil armed robbers in the early hours of yesterday, killed two security guards at a petrol station in Akure, the Ondo state capital.
The filling station is located on Ondo road in Akure metropolis.
Vanguard gathered that the two security guards were overpowered and killed by the robbers at the station during the operation.
It could not be confirmed the amount of money carted away by the robbers who reportedly invaded the station around 2a.m. yesterday, though the filling station said no money was stolen.
Confirming the incident, state police command image maker, Tee-Leo Ikoro, stated that the bodies of the deceased guards had been deposited in the morgue.
Ikoro added that the Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Salami, had ordered a manhunt for the fleeing robbers as well as the deployment of additional security personnel to the area.
He urged the public to be security conscious, adding that “with prompt and authentic information, security lapses would be tackled in the state.
Speaking with newsmen, one of the petrol station supervisors, Buhari Ashiru, said the two security guards, 45-year-old Israel and his colleague, were found drenched pools of their blood around 5:30am when other workers resumed duty.
Ashiru said the second security man had worked just two days at the filling station before he met his untimely death.
He said said the robbers attempted breaking into the filling station’s safe inside the store but couldn’t.
“The robbers did not succeed in breaking into the strong safe as the master key they tried using to open it got broken in the process,” he explained.
Reacting to the Damasak attack yesterday, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, condemned it in scathing terms.
Kallon said in a statement: “ I continue to be concerned about the safety and security of civilians and humanitarian workers.
“I strongly condemn the attack, as humanitarian aid operations and facilities are the lifeline for people affected by violence and conflict in North-East Nigeria who are dependent on assistance to survive.
“Humanitarian operations in Damasak will be reduced due to the violent attack, which will affect the support to 8,800 internally displaced people and 76,000 people in the host community receiving humanitarian assistance and protection there.
“Civilians and aid workers, their facilities and assets should never be a target. They must always be protected and respected. I call on armed parties to observe and commit to international humanitarian law and human rights law, and ensure the protection of civilians, humanitarian property, and personnel.
“I also appeal to our generous donors and stakeholders for support in funding the nine humanitarian hubs and to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), as these are vital enablers of the humanitarian operations in North-East Nigeria.
“I also appeal to donors to urgently continue their support for the Humanitarian Response Plan for North-East Nigeria in order to provide life-saving and life-sustaining support to some 6.4 million displaced people and host communities affected by the humanitarian crisis there.”