Borno “still under Boko Haram siege” says Elkanemi
The Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Umar Ibn Garbai Elkanemi, the paramount traditional ruler in Borno, northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram is most active, has told President Muhammadu Buhari the northeast, particularly Borno State, is still very much under the control of Boko Haram. “It is unfortunate that despite all efforts put in place to restore peace in our land and the north-east, we the people of Borno state are still under Boko Haram siege,” the first class monarch explained saying “nobody can dare move out of Maiduguri by 10 kilometres without being confronted, attacked by Boko Haram.”
Abubakar Elkanemi contradicting the Federal Government’s claims of defeating the Islamic terrorists, said “quite a number of farmers are being killed and kidnapped on a daily basis around Molai General Area, which is just 10 kilometres away from the metropolis, along Maiduguri -Damboa -Biu road.” The traditional ruler pointed out that “most of the surrounding villages and communities in Konduga, Damboa, Mafa and other local government areas have been razed down in the last two weeks.”
The declaration by the Elkanemi has confirmed claims by many Christian communities in northeastern Nigeria that the radical Islamic Boko Haram groups are still actively attacking the predominantly Christian communities in northeastern Nigeria.
A Church leader, who pleaded anonymity said, “villages between Gwoza and Chibok have been raided or attacked this year. Many of us can’t venture out of our villages to our farms, people, women and men and children are attacked and killed when they get out of the villages. Today, as I speak, you cant travel from Maiduguri through Damboa to Chibok because Boko Haram controls this areas. The army knows this,” he said.
“If you do not live here, you will get the impression that the army has destroyed Boko Haram and peace has returned to the northeast, but that is far from the truth,” a Christian youth Leader in Maiduguri added.
Boko Haram has again attacked and killed three soldiers in Cross-Kauwa, a village near Lake Chad, Northeastern Nigeria. Military and civilian sources told AFP that suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) Jihadist arrived in several trucks and attacked the military base, on Tuesday 27 November, at about 8pm local time. “We lost three soldiers in the fight,” a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. “The soldiers fought the terrorists but were overpowered and had to withdraw from the base,” he added.
This killing of the three soldiers came barely a week after the ISWAP attacked 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno State, on November 18 killing over 100 soldiers with about 153 still missing. Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai has insisted that only 23 soldiers were killed in the Metele attack, blaming Boko Haram’s successes over the army to the “daring moves by the terrorists, increased use of drones against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks,” saying this will make “us to continually review our operations.”
The leadership of Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex tribal organisation of the Igbo nation in southern Nigeria, said “The Boko Haram war is now a money-making venture for some government officials and top army officers.” The tribal leaders warned that “If Boko Haram is not completely defeated now by this regime , it will be a disaster for Nigeria in the future,” the Ohanaeze pointed out. In a statement, Joe Ajaero, leader of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, said there is an “urgent need for the nation to quickly review the structure and operational framework of its security agencies.”
The Army reluctantly admitted that Boko Haram fighters have been very active in “Borno villages of Kukawa, Ngoshe, Kareto and Gajiram came under attack at different times” over the past two weeks, between November 2 and17 but argued that “each of these incidents were successfully repelled and several members of the terrorists were killed” claiming that only 16 military personnel were killed and 12 wounded in these attacks.
President Muhammadu Buhari, addressing soldiers on Wednesday 28 November, barely a week after the Metele massacre which killed more than 110 soldiers, at the Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference in Maiduguri, said defeating Boko Haram “is a must win war.” Buhari asked the army to “remain focused and committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the surface of the earth.’’
Hassan John is West Africa Editor Editor GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos