Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
The Nigerian Military has inaugurated a four-man committee to probe the circumstances which led to multiple attacks on communities near Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Easter Day by Boko Haram, an incident that left no fewer than 20 people dead and 83 wounded.
Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas, while inaugurating the committee at operation headquarters, Maimamlari Barrack, on Tuesday said the panel was expected to unravel the circumstances surrounding terror group Boko Haram’s attempts to invade Maiduguri, and the invasion and attacks on three villages last Sunday.
The Commander said the committee will liaise with the State Government, residents of communities and other stakeholders for the purpose of ascertaining the circumstances that led to the deadly attack by the Islamist insurgents.
“The committee will sit, visit the location and speak with the locals as well as government body to unravel what happened and to ensure that such occurrence does not happen again. The committee will sit for three days, after which they will submit their report. There is also need for people to be calm and careful whenever blasts or attacks occur, rather than rushing out; which at times make the casualties of attacks high,” Gen. Nicholas cautioned.
He appealed to the people to be security-conscious and report any strange movements or faces to security agencies. Terrorists, the General said, often move in the midst of locals without being reported to either the military or security agencies for prompt action.
“Members of the general public are therefore urged to be watchful and discern strange persons and suspicious activities in their communities and report to the security agencies,” General Nicholas said.
While recalling the Easter Day attack, he disclosed that military troops gunned down seven out of the 10 suicide bombers used by the insurgents. He said the remaining three detonated their explosives in the middle of crowd which killed many and injured others.
The military had claimed the Sunday attacks on Bille Shuwa and Alikanti by Boko Haram killed at least 15 and 83 injured, while the United Nations Humanitarian office in Nigeria put the death toll at 34, quoting local sources.
The casualty figures also contradicted the one provided by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the police, which said 18 people were killed.
Residents of the communities maintained that about 34 people died in the attack, the first since the Federal Government announced a Boko Haram ceasefire following the release of 105 Dapchi girls abducted by the insurgents on February 19.