By Billy Graham Abel, Yola
The member pepresenting Gombi constituency in Adamawa State House of Assembly, Kefas Japheth, has criticised the Federal Government’s neglect of his community attacked repeatedly by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
Kefas said that incessant attacks on Garkida has left the entire Gombi Local Government Area in distress and members of the community hopeless over governnents failure to halt repeated attacks on their community.
Kefas who spoke with Sunday Sun in Yola, Adamawa State, said the recent killing of six members of his community during a Christmas eve attack and the kidnapping of five members of the community, who were subsequently killed in cold blood, has left the entire community in shock at the collapse of security in the country.
Recounting horrific experience of the Christmas eve attacks and impact of the incessant attacks on Garkida, the lawmaker noted that frequent attacks have created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty not only in Garkida but in the entire local government because no one feels safe or has confidence in the military to defend them.
Kefas said: “This consistent and unrelenting attacks has created an atmosphere of great fear in all our communities in Gombi LGA not only in Garkida town alone.
“We feel that the Federal Government is not doing its job or performing up to expectation in terms of security and defending our people.
“The sole responsibilty of government is to protect lives and property of its citizens, but in the case of Garkida town, the reverse is the case.
“These so-called gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents succeeded in killing six gentlemen on the day of the attack and abducted five youths. Three days later, in a viral video clip, we saw how they were executed in cold blood, shot to death in the eyes of the world.”
Speaking on whether his community has confidence in military protection and the impact of the attacks on the locals he said: “We have lost hope as to whether this year, our people will go to farm because it seems as if the insurgents can abduct us and kill us and there is nothing anyone can do about it. This is the the fourth time this ugly situation has happened to my people.
“Our greatest worry is that in all these attacks in Garkida, we always have information about it and the information was always passed to the relevant law enforcement agents, a day or two before it happens, we always report Boko Haram sightings close to Garkida area, but no effort seems to be made to stop them and the attacks still happen anyway. It’s sad and we are disappointed and our Federal Government has to do better.
“The level at which the insurgents target the community is alarming and an embarrassment to the nation. I am sad as a person and disappointed that these attacks happen again and again.
“Our people are bitter because of the suffering inflicted on them as a result of the losses from the incessant attacks.
“Some came from far and wide to celebrate Christmas with their families, but spent it in the bushes, hiding.”
“We reliably gathered from our local intelligence, that as on Boxing Day, about nine trucks carrying the insurgents were sighted hovering around and we might be attacked again.
“We have, however, resorted to self-help and we are mobilising vigilante groups to Garkida, the logistics is quite challenging but that is our best option for now. We need help, and we cannot be the subject of attacks without end, our people have lost everything.”
A resident of the community, who spoke to Sunday Sun on the phone from Garkida on condition of anonymity said: “We had to run into the bushes, with our family members, young and old. We abandoned all the things we had prepared to celebrate Christmas, and ran away for our dear lives.
“We reliably gathered that some gunmen were on their way to our town again in several trucks. Like it happened in February this year (2020), military personnel were not on the ground to help us, so we ran into the nearby bushes to hide, hoping they would not follow us there.
“The attack forced us out of the comfort of our homes, and we had to stay throughout Christmas eve in the bushes, so Christmas morning met us in our hiding places.
“Everyone can tell you what they have lost as individuals, but no one can tell you the scale of destruction they was wreaking on our community because we were all hiding, and we are just licking our wounds and counting our losses.”
In a phone call, another resident of Garkida also recounted: “I was not in Garkida when the attack happened. I have just arrived Garkida now and I am shocked and angry.
“From what I can see, they burnt down a branch of Living Faith Church and about 19 vehicles belonging to a construction company executing a road project in Gombi. They destroyed and looted shops. Homes and personal property were also set ablaze.
“I don’t think we are part of Nigeria, because these people just come to our community anytime they want, take whatever they want and leave unchallenged.
“Whenever, there is military presence in this town, Boko Haram will not come. But whenever Boko Haram insurgents come there would be no military personnel. I think we are on our own. If you build a house, they will destroy it, if you rebuild it, they will destroy it again, so, what is the point?”
Interestingly, the current Chairman, North East Development Commission (NEDC), General Paul Tarfa is from Garkida community. Another notable native of the community is Emmanuel Bello, former governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the 2019 general elections. Garkida is now the epicenter of recurring Boko Haram incursions and consistent attacks in Adamawa.
Gombi LGA is one of the seven local governments in northern Adamawa that were occupied by in 2014. Garkida, a community in the LGA was one of the places worst hit by the 2014 attacks and now six years later, it is once again on the throes of incessant Boko Haram attacks.
In early 2020, February 21, to be precise, Boko Haram insurgents invaded the town hours after military forces left the community.
The insurgents occupied the community for three hours, killed several people, looted shops, homes, burnt down churches and left the community members devasted. This happened as they were trying to rebuild after the 2014 attacks. And on the eve of the 2020 Christmas, the daredevil terrorists struck again.
Garkida is now practically in ruins while the Federal Government dithers, seemingly helpless and clueless.