Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum has described attack on his convoy by suspected Boko Haram last Wednesday in Baga, northern part of the state, as a complete sabotage.
Zulum in his first reaction to the incident during an interview late Thursday insisted military troops were behind the shooting that halted the movement of his convoy to Baga on Wednesday and not Boko Haram as widely suspected.
“As far as I am concerned, there is no Boko Haram in the town yesterday (on Wednesday) when we visited. There was shooting by the Nigerian Army who are residing in Baga,” the governor maintained.
He said the shootings were orchestrated by military personnel to stop him from entering the town to access the security situation rather than Boko Haram as widely reported.
“They have all confessed. The situation is very embarrassing and I think we should give the situation sufficient time,” he said. He urged Nigerians not to blame the president for the security situation in the northeast. He said the president as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces has deployed sufficient troops to the region.
He said there over 2,000 troops alone in Baga area even as he expressed concern while the military cannot clear the town to allow locals return home to start a new life.
“I see no reason why they cannot occupy Baga. The number of soldiers is quite enough to handle the population of people (that will return). The issue is not lack of personnel, there is enough personnel, we have equipment. We muct occupy Baga,” Zulum stressed.
He said there are about 500,000 Baga residents currently in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Monguno, another Borno volatile town, some 55 kometres to Baga since 2014.
On Wednesday, Zulum proceeded from Monguno to Baga and attempted to enter the town around a community called Mile 4 but was prevented by the military troops. He was told the soldier holding the key to the temporary gate was not available. The governor subsequently ordered the commanding officer of Baga to break the gate so that he could enter the area to access the security situation. The soldier who was said not to be available thereafter appeared with the key and opened the gate.
The governor and his entourage had barely moved in when shooting started. One of the governor’s convoy was targeted though non hit by bullets. Some security sources said the bullets were fired into the air rather than direct shooting on the convoy as was often with Boko Haram
Meanwhile, the army has promised to investigate the incident which generated reactions across the country.