By Charly Agwam – Bauchi
A few weeks ago, the country was thrown into confusion as to whether Boko Haram members had infiltrated four Bauchi communities sharing boundary with Yobe state after an emergency meeting held by Bauchi state government in collaboration with security agencies and the traditional institution.
The reason for the emergency meeting, according to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mohammed Sabiu Baba during a briefing with newsmen was to examine the implication of Boko Haram’s activities in Geidam and plan for how to contain it from the Bauchi side.
Baba also hinted during the briefing how an MTN communication mast in Gamawa local government area of the State was vandalized by criminal elements, a threat which the State government suspected to be a fallout of the attack on Geidam, Yobe State by members of Boko Haram.
His words: “Today, we had a meeting to discuss the crisis caused by Boko Haram in Geidam and its implications in Bauchi. Bauchi state is sharing borders in four local government areas, namely Zaki, Dambam, Gamawa, and Darazo. The implication of what happened in Geidam is that there is a lot of influx of people moving into Bauchi state from Yobe.
“It is expected that we continue to profile whoever is coming to Bauchi state. I can tell you that some people come in with weapons, and it is the profiling that will help us stem that type of problem. Apart from that, any criminal activity that is noticed among us should be promptly reported to the security agencies.
“Therefore, the government held a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, Director Department of State Service, Commandant of Civil Defense, Brigade Commander, and the Head of Air Force in Bauchi.
“They all assured to give maximum cooperation in our attempt to have a joint patrol. Of course, security is the responsibility of all of us. We do not expect that the security agencies alone will do the work, so all hands will be on deck, including our traditional institution and religious groups.”
Although the SSG in his statement did not explicitly say there was Boko Haram in Bauchi State, feelers are that because he implied that the attack on MTN mast in Gamawa local government area was carried out to breach security in the area, some reporters (not ours) thought that he was referring to Boko Haram.
“Recently, an MTN facility in Gamawa local government area was attacked by criminal elements. And as we know, such things are usually done by criminal elements in an attempt to make security impossible in that area.
“That threat has been identified and the culprits have been apprehended and the properties have been recovered. Those bad eggs that have already settled, we are sensitising our people to report anybody that they are not very comfortable with.
“The state government will ensure that the joint operations of the security agencies will be intensified particularly, air surveillance around the affected LGAs. Some bandits have been arrested for vandalizing the MTN installation in Gamawa LGA with the intention of blocking communication in the area in preparation for the attack,” he added.
He went further to lament that the influx of displaced persons from Yobe State was putting strain on the facilities in the affected four local government areas
According to him, “Of course, that is putting a lot of strain on our facilities and considering the kind of movement from the outcome of Boko Haram activity, the security implication is also very high. The meeting today was to examine the implication of that (Boko Haram activity in Geidam), and plan for how to contain it from the Bauchi side.
“As for those that are displaced persons, government officials will identify them in order to provide relief materials for their well-being because the government will not just watch them suffer. The gateway LGAs are Gamawa, Dambam, and Zaki which are sharing boundaries with Yobe state and close to the seized Geidam by Boko Haram terrorists.”
However, following the press conference with the SSG, several media outlets had erroneously reported that Boko Haram has infiltrated and overrun Dambam, Zaki, Gamawa, and Darazo local government areas which also followed a statement by the Special Adviser, Media to the governor, Muhktar Gidado in which he debunked the reports
“Our attention has been drawn to a viral publication by a cross-section of newspapers and online medium where they erroneously reported that Boko Haram fighters raided Bauchi communities.
“In order to set the records straight and correct the erroneous misrepresentation that is in the public domain, I wish to state as follows: that no Single attack by Boko Haram or any criminal elements in the four (4) local government areas or any local government area for that matter.
“To report that the Boko Haram invaded these Local Governments was entirely false and mischievous. It is therefore pertinent for all to respect the Security and integrity of our State. We must as Journalists not report war where none exists.
“Most of you were in attendance when the SSG spoke, he made no mention of any attack on any of the 4 local government areas,” he said.
The Special Adviser further made known the State government’s plan to provide a palliative for the displaced persons.
“In order to bring succor to people fleeing Gaidam and Kenam residents from Yobe State after the attack by the insurgents, His Excellency, Governor Bala Mohammed has approved the immediate supply of relief materials to cushion the hardship being experienced by the refugees in the four local government areas.
“Let me give you a break-down of the commodities that are, as I speak being loaded for onward transportation to the affected areas. The items include 1,750 bags of rice, 1,050 bags of maize, 1,750 bags of sorghum, 1,050 cartons of spaghetti, 350 bags of sugar, 3,500 cartons of indomie,” he added.