ν We suspected high value insurgents there –Military
ν It’s an unauthorised search –UN
From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Soldiers on counter-insurgency operation in the northeast states have invaded the United Nations House in Maiduguri, Borno State in search of what the military called high value Boko Haram suspects.
Sources said the stern-looking scores of soldiers from the Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole arrived the building known as Red Roof on Pompomari-Bye Pass in Maiduguri around 5am on Friday following an intelligence that some Boko Haram commanders including wanted Abubakar Shekau may have sneaked into the city and hiding in some areas within the metropolis.
UN personnel mostly foreigners were thrown into confusion throughout the period the soldiers conducted search in the expansive building which serves as shelter and operational base for humanitarian agencies in the state, a security source who was at the building during the invasion told Saturday Sun.
While confirming the invasion, the military said the soldiers were on search and cordon operation following information that some “high value” Boko Haram leaders were hiding in the area. “On 10th August, 2017, Theatre Command received information from one of its credible sources that some high value Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) suspects had infiltrated Pompomari Bye Pass. It therefore became expedient to take preemptive action by combing the general area through a cordon and search operations,” the military theatre command said in a statement signed by Lt. Col Kingsley Samuel, a deputy director Army Public Relations.
The military also said it has been conducting the cordon and search operations in other parts of the metropolis including Jiddari-Polo, Muna Garage, Jakana among others in the last one week. It disclosed that it has searched 30 houses including the UN building, claiming all the operations have been successful.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon has expressed concern over the invasion, describing it as an unauthorized search.
“At circa 0500 hours today (Friday), members of the Nigerian security forces entered the UN base for humanitarian workers in Maiduguri without authorization. The security forces carried out search of the camp and left the area at circa 0800 hours,” Kallon said in a statement.
He said the UN was extremely concerned that the military action could be detrimental to the critical work that is being carried out by its humanitarian and support staff to the “most vulnerable” people in the region affected by the Boko Haram violence.
He said more than 50 non-governmental organizations are working in support of the Nigerian government to provide aids including foods, water, medicine and temporary shelter to about 6.9 million people in the northeast devastated by six years insurgency.