TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri
Security has remained a big issue in the volatile Northeast states of Borno and Yobe persistently threatened by Boko Haram insurgency.
As many Nigerians look up to the New Year in the next 24 hours, residents of the two states said that they are concerned about renewed attacks by the insurgents. Within a week, the area has witnessed about eight attacks, leading to the death of dozens of security personnel and civilians.
Boko haram has stepped up attacks on military locations and communities in recent times, targeting troops and food stuffs in remote communities. From Kukareta and Katarko in Yobe State to Makalama, Bolekla, Baga and lately Monguno, Boko Haram has made real threat to the relative security enjoyed in the epicenter of the
The real threat
Last Wednesday, insurgents attacked the headquarters of the 7 Brigade of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) at the fishing town of Baga. About a dozen soldiers were reportedly killed though the military put the casualty figure at one.
It said a navy personnel was killed, insisting that the insurgents “contested the soul” of the border town but military “fully in control.” The attack came few days after the insurgents raided an army base at Yobe town of Kukareta where they killed 13 security troops, including soldiers, policeman and a civilian.
Before then, Boko Haram had killed three people mostly women at remote Bolakla village. It earlier raided Makalama village in Chibok local government, set houses on fire and carted away foodstuffs and livestock.
Residents said that all these attacks are fueling fears of return of the insurgents which the military claimed it has degraded.
“God forbid that Boko Haram returns to seize some of the towns and communities recaptured from it some years ago. We are afraid because the number of attacks in recent time is alarming,” Abubakar Aminu, a Maiduguri resident, said.
He said that the threat on Maiduguri, Borno capital, was real this year as the insurgents carried out three daring attempts to enter the city.
“The terrorists wanted to enter Maiduguri almost three times though the military foiled their attempts,” he explained.
Residents also said there are now threats of Boko Haram attacks on some roads leading to Maiduguri, Borno capital and Damaturu, Yobe’s capital, which was akin to the pre-election period in 2015. “The road from Maiduguri to Damboa has been abandoned because of the threats of attacks, Damaturu-Buni-Yadi is seen to be dangerous while the Potiskum-Gombe road is suspected to be unsafe,” a commercial driver, Haruna Mohammed, said.
Concerns over 2019 polls
Many residents have also raised concern over the 2019 polls in some local governments in Borno and Yobe states. They noted that some local government areas are presently difficult to reach due to the presence of Boko Haram around the areas.
They cited Kukawa, Abadam, Guzamala, Nganzai, Mobbar, Marte, Gubio in the northern part of Borno, Gwoza and Damboa in the South and Kala Balge, Ngala and Dikwa in the central parts where Boko Haram still carries out its activities.
“We do not know how the coming elections will take place in communities in these local governments because Boko Haram are still moving around most of the communities in these LGA,” Mohammad Saleh, another Maiduguri resident, said.
He pointed out that it would be difficult for officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move into these areas for the conduct of the forthcoming polls.
Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima in his response to the upsurge in Boko Haram attacks called an emergency stakeholders meeting last Friday to discuss the increasing attack and proffer solutions.
Shettima said the meeting which involved heads of security agencies in the state, leadership of Civilian JTF, traditional leaders, media, the bar, labour leaders, hunters, local government chairmen, members of the National Assembly and state House of Assembly, the legion and leadership of the University of Maiduguri, was called to analyze the current spate of violence caused by Boko Haram.
“Participants will review the situation in view of recent developments, make suggestions and come up with a resolution that will in writing be delivered to President Buhari by a delegation, as soon as possible while the state government and other institutions that may be concerned by some aspects of the resolutions, will take necessary
and immediate actions,” Shettima said in a statement issued by his media adviser, Isa Gusau.
Meanwhile, the military has assured that it will address the security challenge.
“I want to reaffirm the commitment of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in our country,” Army Chief of Training and Operations, Maj-Gen Lamidi Adeosun told journalists at the flag off of Operation Egwuke Eke III at the Theatre Command headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri on Friday.
Adeosun who represented the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Yusuf Buratai at the flag off said that the army was re-introducing the exercise following its success in the Southeast in 2016 and 2017. The operation, would be deployed in all volatile parts of the country especially as security challenges build up ahead of the 2019 polls.
How the military intends to address the growing concern of people in the volatile Northeast states and other crisis-prone areas in the country remains a big challenge, especially few weeks to the February general elections.
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