The army said that “unscrupulous” individuals within and outside the state were trying to create panic and humanitarian problems for undisclosed reasons.
Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Army is set to raise the bar in the anti-insurgency war in Borno State. Against the backdrop of recent attacks by Boko Haram, it announced plans to commence a relocation operation for residents of Baga community following ongoing military operations in the area.
This is even as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin met with the chiefs of Army, Airforce and Navy at the headquarters of the Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole, in Maiduguri, Borno State, in “continuation of a routine operational visit.”
Baga, a town in Borno, close to Lake Chad and located within the Kukawa Local Government Area, which is the site of the famous “Doron Baga” fish market, has been an epicentre of bloody insurgency war since 2013.
In the most recent attack, which took place on December 27, Boko Haram reportedly overran a military base, killed at least 10 people including a naval personnel. Unconfirmed reports said insurgents may have taken over the town.
According to a statement by Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, the Baga relocation operation would be undertaken in conjunction with the Borno State government.
The army said it has been observed that some “unscrupulous” individuals with likely sinister motives within and outside the state were trying to create panic and unnecessary humanitarian problems for undisclosed reasons.
“It has come to our attention that these people are plotting to instigate the inhabitants of Bama, Dikwa and Monguno communities to abandon their communities and relocate to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps for undisclosed reasons,” the Army said.
The army urged inhabitants of the three Borno towns and the general public to discountenance all calls and remain calm.
Notwithstanding efforts of security agencies, hundreds of residents have reportedly fled their homes in Baga.
The fleeing residents who arrived Maiduguri in trucks yesterday morning, said they fled to Monguno, a neighbouring town some 54 kilometres to Baga as troops and Boko Haram engaged in a fierce battle for the soul of the commercial town last Wednesday.
Looking tired and unkempt, they said they left the fishing town in fear of another attack by the insurgents.
One of the survivors, Malum Usman said he fled Baga after the attack to Monguno with his wife and seven children.
“We left the town completely. I don’t know what is happening there now, I cannot say whether or not Boko Haram is still there because we all left and nobody was at the town gate (military checkpoint). Nobody can say precisely whether or not Boko Haram still occupy Baga,” he said.
Boko Haram had attacked the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) in the fishing town last Wednesday.
Reports claimed that about a dozen soldiers died in the nearly three hours gun battle but the military said only a navy personnel was killed.
Army Chief of Training and Operations, Maj Gen Lamidi Adeosun told journalists that troops have stabilised the town after the fierce battle.
“Baga is not in the hands of Boko Haram. They contested it but lost the contest,” Adeosun said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin has met with the chiefs of Army, Airforce and Naval staff at the headquarters of the Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole, in Maiduguri.
At the meeting, General Olonishakin commended Operation Lafiya Dole troops for their gallant defeat of rampaging insurgents in Baga and environs.
Last week, a similar meeting held at the Headquarters of the Air Taskforce in Maiduguri.
Since the previous meeting, attacks had occurred spontaneously in various part of the North East some of which include Kareto, Katarko, Baga, Monguno, and Barma among others.
Only the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole and principal officers attended the high-level strategic meeting where operations were reviewed in view of recent happenings.