- Over 100 killed in 4 months
From TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri
with over 100 people killed within four months in about 10 attacks in two northeast states of Borno and Adamawa, Boko Haram insurgency is far from being over in the country.
Early in the year, the Federal Government and military authority announced they have decimated the terror group, a position that was re-echoed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai recently at the decoration of the newly promoted 44 major generals in Maiduguri, Borno capital and birthplace of Boko Haram.
“We have secured Nigeria’s territorial integrity and equally maintained her sovereignty. What is remaining now is for other stakeholders-the political class and intelligence community-to take up the salient aspects of this war to the remaining ill-fated insurgents,” Buratai said, calling on the police and civil administration to play their roles.
The army chief’s admittance that insurgency or terrorism is a difficult war that requires bold effort to “effectively tackle and finally destroyed” clearly accentuated the position that insurgency may go on for longer period contrary to claims the war is won. “The final defeat of remnants of Boko Haram and stabilization efforts in conjunction with other security agencies must be uppermost in your minds,” Buratai emphatically declared to the new generals.
From the foregoing, it is certain the counter-insurgency war is still on and perhaps will linger for sometimes, some said. The violence which started in 2009 has continued to drag into its ninth year, Abubakar Aji, a resident of Damaturu told Sunday Sun.
Hoping against hope
Some residents of Maiduguri said the hope of ending the violence was diminishing with the increasing attacks by the insurgents.
Abba Bashir, Special Assistant to the Borno governor on new media and ICT, believes the operational mode and almost ubiquitous nature of the insurgents make Boko Haram violence difficult to fizzle out. “This type of war does not fizzle out at once because the insurgents are scattered and do not settle at a particular location,” he stated.
He also linked the lingering violence to politics, a claim that has been repeatedly made by many, especially in the northeast. Many alleged some politicians may be discreetly providing logistics to the insurgents to keep the violence in the northeast going. “It is also believed that the sponsors of political Boko Haram are back in their acts again by arming their boys to unleash terror on innocent law abiding citizens,” Abba said, a claim that is yet to be authenticated. But then, many have expressed concern about increasing attacks of Boko Haram in recent time. “We thought the problem was over but it keeps on since. It is like hoping against hope,” Abba Kakami, a Maiduguri-based journalist said
Strings of deadly attacks in 3 months
Boko Haram embarked on a string of deadly attacks on military base in what was seen as renewed attacks by the insurgents. Late July, Boko Haram ambushed a convoy of oil workers and University of Maiduguri staff with some military and Civilian JTF escorts on oil prospecting trip in the northern part of Borno. At least 25 people were killed in the attack and five others abducted by the insurgents. Barely two months later, the insurgents launched some attacks on Yobe communities. About 15 soldiers and an officer were killed in attack on the military base at Sasawa village on 24th October while similar attacks at Goniri town in same Yobe State four days later; on 28th October, was repelled by the military.
No fewer than four people were killed in a daring attack on a military base at Magumeri, north of Maiduguri on November 25 as Boko Haram attempted to overrun the base. The attack forced many residents to flee to the capital, swelling the already 1.5 million displaced persons in the state.
Boko Haram laid siege on Madagali, a serene community in Adamawa State bordering Borno southeastern communities in about four hours fierce battle with military forces. The insurgents returned to Mubi, commercial town of Adamawa State nearly two years after it was liberated from Boko Haram. No fewer than 35 people were killed. The insurgents’ suicide bombers infiltrated Biu, near the hometown of the army chief, killing 14 persons.
The renewed attacks by Boko Haram compelled the defence chief, Gen Abayomi Olonishakin to visit the headquarters of the counter-insurgency operation; Operation Lafiya Dole, in Maiduguri two weeks ago, two military sources said. “The war against Boko Haram insurgency is flagging and dragging,” the sources said. This perhaps led to the removal of the Theatre Commander, Maj Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and his replacement with Maj Gen Rogers Nicholas.
There is another conspiracy theory on the position of the humanitarian organizations operating in the northeast. Some have alleged that some of the humanitarian bodies do not want the crisis to end because of the financial supports they are getting from donors. Sunday Sun checks revealed that there are nearly 120 international and national humanitarian organizations in the northeast as at November. “Many of them are getting huge supports from donors but giving little to displaced persons, yet they rent houses for two to three years as if the crisis won’t end again,” a senior government official alleged. The official who pleaded anonymity maintained the suspicion of conspiracy theory was rife especially in Borno though he could not prove how the humanitarian community has directly supported the violence.
Deputy Coordinator, United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (UN-OCHA) Peter Lumberg dismissed the claim. He said the humanitarian bodies were in the northeast to give support to the affected victims of insurgency and does not interfere with the country’s political and security issues.
Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima in a recent interview with an international news agency said the government was considering creating bigger towns for thousands of returnees rather than having isolated communities that may be prone to Boko Haram attacks. “There is beauty in numbers, there is security in numbers. So our target is to congregate people in five major urban settlements and provide them with means of livelihood, education, health care and of course security,” Shettima said, a plan believed to be a move to prevent attacks on the people as the crisis lingers. The question many ask is when will the bloodletting, pains end?