Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has expressed concern over the increasing presence of terrorists of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) extraction in some parts of the state, and therefore called for urgent security measures to curtail the trend.
The governor, who acknowledged that peace had returned to 11 local government areas of the state, however, said Abadam and Guzamala local government areas were still under the control of Boko Haram terrorists.
Speaker of the State House of Assembly Abdulkarim Lawan had told journalists that 99% of communities in Guzamala local government area where he hails from were under the control of Boko Haram terrorists.
While commending the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the Nigerian Armed Forces and volunteers for major gains recorded in the state, Zulum nevertheless said he was deeply worried about the increasing presence of the ISWAP in some parts of the state, especially in southern Borno.
Zulum said: “I am pleased to inform you that we have started witnessing gradual return of peace, but more needs to be done, because, presently, Guzamala and Abadam Local Government Areas are still under the control of Boko Haram.
“Although, the current Service Chiefs, the Theatre Commander, and indeed our General Officer Commanding 7 Division are up and doing. We want to commend the military and other paramilitary personnel for their gallant efforts to see to the end of terrorism in this part of the country.”
“Unfortunately, the government and people of Borno state, especially those from southern and northern parts of the state, are worried over the increasing number of ISWAP groups who have been terrorising their communities.
“Just few days ago, I received a security report that in some communities of Mandaragirau axis in Biu Local Government Area, there are reports that over 500 Boko Haram/ISWAP groups have been converging with over 300 motorcycles and even celebrating parties/marriages amongst themselves without confrontation.
“Honestly speaking, we have to do something about the operations of ISWAP in Borno State, if nothing is done to check them and chase them out, it may be bad not only for people of the North-East, but the entire nation at large.
“ISWAP are more equipped, sophisticated, intelligent and dangerous as they grow from strength to strength. ISWAP are collecting taxes along major roads in Damboa and other axis in southern Borno. It is very unfortunate.
“But the good news is that about 11 local government areas of Gwoza, Bama, Marte, Monguno, Kaga, Gubio, Mafa, Dikwa, Ngala and host of others are becoming more peaceful than before, and this could be attributed to about 20,000 surrendered members of Boko Haram who are now in our custody.
“I want to use this opportunity to solicit for prayers from all and sundry for total restoration of peace not only in Borno state, but the country as a whole.” Zulum said.
‘Boko Haram surrender making impact’
Governor Zulum also spoke about the recent surrender by hundreds of repentant Boko Haram fighters, which he said was already resulting in some stability, especially in the areas of agriculture.
The governor said since “the surrender of thousands of insurgents, farmers have increased access to farms by 70%,” just as he expressed support for the “continued combination of military warfare, and political approach towards disarmament, deradicalization and safe reintegration.”
Earlier, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume said they were at the Government House to commend Governor Zulum for the support rendered the Army towards restoring peace to the state and nation at large.
“Your Excellency, this is a Senate committee on Nigerian Army, and we are here on oversight, and to thank Your Excellency for the support that you have been giving to the Army, which they themselves (Army) have acknowledged,” Ndume said.
On the committee delegation were Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South, and Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hassan Mohammed Gusau, Senator Kola Balogun from Oyo South Senatorial district, and Senator Bulus K. Amos from Gombe South.
The committee was also accompanied on the visit by Brig. Gen. Sani Suleiman who is the Director Defense Liaison to the National Assembly, Navy Captain Shehu Mohammed Tasiu, Deputy Director Defense Liaison to the National Assembly, Lawal Sani, who is the committee’s clerk, and the deputy clerk, Akikomi Babatunde Johnson.
The committee also visited the troops at the Theater Command Headquarters, Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri to have a firsthand information on their welfare.
Addressing the troops, Senator Ndume, who lauded the efforts and sacrifices of the Nigerian Army in the insurgency fight, said the military had a substantial chunk of the 2022 Budget to motivate the troops.
He urged them to further weaken the ISWAP base so the successes recorded in the insurgency fight could be properly consolidated.
Responding, Theatre Commander JTF Operation Hadin Kai Theater Command Headquarters Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri, Major Gen. Chris G. Musa appreciated the Senate committee’s visit and commended Ndume for consistently making a case for the NA at both the National Assembly and Presidency.
He reassured of the theatre command’s commitment and determination to bring to an end the 12-year insurgency this year 2022, noting that, no stone would be left unturned in an effort to rid the state and the region of all criminalities and insurgency.
Also at the 7 Division NA Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri, the Acting GOC, Major-General Abdulwahab A. Eyitayo, appreciated the Senate committee members visit and appealed for more support to the Army to end the war.
Bandits abduct many traders
A driver who witnessed the incident told Premium Times that the gunmen blocked the highway between Birnin Gwari and Kaduna at Unguwar Yako forest where they abducted the traders.
The source said the abducted persons were among dozens of travellers going from Birnin Gwari and neighbouring communities in Niger State to Kano on routine business trips.
“We were travelling in a convoy with security escorts but they (bandits) abducted those who moved ahead of the convoy, which made them easy preys for the bandits.
“We came and met about four empty vehicles, while seeing the bandits moving into the forest with the captives. The soldiers are tracing them, we are stranded at a dangerous spot in the forest (Unguwar Yako) while the security escorts are chasing to rescue the abducted traders,” the source said.
The latest incident occurred less than a month after over 70 travellers were abducted along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road in Kaduna State.
That incident on December 23, 2021 happened around Udawa village after Buruku in Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
The police spokesperson in Kaduna, Mohammed Jalige, did not respond to phone calls Wednesday afternoon to comment on the incident.
18 killed in fresh Plateau attack
In a related development, the national leadership of Irigwe Development Association (IDA) has said 18 people were allegedly killed in Tuesday night attack on Ancha village, Irigwe chiefdom, Bassa local government area of Plateau state.
According to reports, the incident lasted for over two hours.
Giving the statistics shortly after returning from the affected community with other officials of the association, IDA National Publicity Secretary Davidson Malison said: “While other people celebrated the triumphant entry of the year 2022, the Rigwe people have been ushered into the year with a lot of unpleasantness and distastefulness.
“This can be likened to a scenario where evil merchants have been adjured to having a field day in their attempt to achieve an agenda of Fulanization and annihilation of Rigwe ethnic nationality.
“The Rigwe Nation has been visited by yet another deadly and lethal attack by Fulani Terrorists (as testified by victims that survived) in the early hours of 12 midnight of Tuesday January 11, 2022 at Ancha village of Miango District, Rigwe Chiefdom of Bassa LGA.
“The attack which lasted for over 2 hours (12:00-2:30) undistracted and unchecked led to the killing of eighteen(18) people with six (6) others injured while over 24 households with over 100 residential rooms were razed down, other properties like motor vehicles, motorcycles and harvested food crops were also destroyed with many valuables stolen and carted away.
“Saddened to note, is that amongst those killed and roasted is a three-month old baby.”
“Prior to the Ancha attack, three people were ambushed on a motorcycle along Oureedam village of Kwall District on Christmas night where two people were killed instantly while one sustained gunshot injuries.
“On the eve of New Year (31/12/2021) five people were attacked and ambushed at Twin Hill where one was burnt to death while four others were injured.
“On the 7th of January, 2022 a 49-year-old, Timeh Evi, was ambushed and killed at his irrigation farm in Nzhwerenvi which his dead body has not been recovered till date. His motorcycle and Water pump machine were also carted away.
“On the 10th of January, 2022, Ancha village was visited by another attack where a man and his wife were ambushed on their way to farm where the man died instantly while the wife was severely injured and is currently receiving treatment at a hospital.
“The National Leadership of Irigwe Development Association (IDA) has lost words to convey the state of sadness, broken-heartedness and joylessness the entire nation has been confined to courtesy the act of barbarism and callousness that has been done in the land.
“We have called on Security agents and Government on several occasions to devise means as well as grab the political will of ending the spate of carnage being unleashed on the Rigwe people, yet no concrete and tangible efforts have been done to corroborate our calls but, we want to reiterate that if we are part of this country and legitimate citizens, then we expect to see a proactive not reactive approach, action not condemnation, arrest not mere investigation and justice not injustice,” the group further added.
IDA listed the victims as “Gideon Goh- 30 years old, Danladi James-26 years old, Yohanna Musa- 17 years old, Achi Alhaji -16 years old, Monday Abba- 52 years old, Musa Tegwi- 80 years old, Christiana Sunday -45; years old, Laraba Bitrus- 38 years old, Andrew Bitrus – 7 years old, Wiki Bitrus – 5 years old, Monday Bitrus- 3months old.”
Others, he said, are, “Danjuma Rimbe -10 years old, Monday B Bitrus -19 years old, Moses Weyi – 21 years old, Mbe Weyi – 21 years old, Azumi Wreh, Danladi David Musa – 28 years old and Garius Gado Sunday.”
Those injured include “Danlami Adams Aged 21 years, Taji Bulus Daniel aged 30 years, Weyi Aged 42 years, Danladi James Aged 22 years, Ishya Danjuma Aged 36 years, Monday Amadu Aged 26 years.”
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