From Umar Dankano, Yola & Ado Abubakar Musa, Jos
Barely 24 hours after suspected members of the Boko Haram sect stormed Adamawa border communities in Madagali, sacking the whole communities and hoisting their black and white flags, witnesses and local officials have confirmed that the military has reclaimed the area weekend.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in Adamawa, DSP Michael also confirmed that there was tension in the area but, the situation has now eased out.
Madagali town is located about 20 kilometers from destroyed Gwoza town, which is also located between Adamawa, Borno and Cameroon republic, surrounded by Mandara Mountains.
An impeccable source told People’s Daily that the insurgents, in their hundreds, stormed most of the villages and Madagali town on Saturday, a reason that forced residents to flee to safer places.
The source added that three people were killed by the insurgents during their ungodly operation.
Confirming the development on phone, chairman Madagali local government council, Mr. James Abawu Watharda said that “the insurgents, large in number, and using rocket-propelled launchers, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and petrol bombs, invaded our communities and opened fire on innocent civilians before overpowering security operatives and vigilante groups and hoisting their flags”.
He said they killed many innocent people and destroyed a lot of houses before hoisting their flags in different locations. “We, the people of Madagali are very worried with the spate of killings and destruction by terrorists without military or security agencies confronting them.”
“For now people are fleeing for their lives and no one can tell the exact casualty, because of the pandemonium that ensued,” Watharda said.
Reports say that some Internally Displaced Persons, who escaped from the Gwoza attacks three weeks ago and resettled at neighbouring Madagali town, have been forced out their resettlement community.
One of the Gwoza refugees, who was in Gulak after fleeing, Mr. Dauda Musa said that “the latest attack forced many people in Madagali, including the displaced persons to flee to neighbouring Mubi and Gombi towns of Adamawa for fear of possible attacks from the terrorists, who now operate freely without confrontation from security operatives”.
B/H declares Gwoza ‘Islamic caliphate’
Meanwhile, Boko Haram’s leader said he has created an ‘Islamic caliphate’ in a northeast Nigeria town seized by the insurgents earlier this month, in a video obtained by AFP yesterday.
“Thanks be to Allah, who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Abubakar Shekau said, in the 52-minute video.
He declared that Gwoza, in Borno state, now has “nothing to do with Nigeria”.
“By the grace of Allah we will not leave the town. We have come to stay,” said Shekau, who has been designated a global terrorist by the United States and sanctioned by the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Boko Haram is also believed to be in control of other areas near Gwoza, in southern Borno, as well as large swathes of territory in northern Borno and at least one town in neighbouring Yobe state. Mapping the precise areas which have fallen into insurgent’s hands is nearly impossible.
There are few humanitarian workers on the ground in the north-east; travel is dangerous and the region, which has been under a state of emergency since May of last year, has poor mobile phone coverage.
However, the Nigerian military yesterday debunked Shekau’s claim.
In a tweet on its Twitter handle, the Defence Headquarters stated that “the claim is empty. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact.
“Any group of terrorists laying claim to any portion of the country will not be allowed to get away with the expression of delusion and crime.
“An appropriate military operation to secure that area from the activities of the bandits is still on-going”, it further stated.
Gwoza attack: How I hid in a ceiling for 9 days – Escapee
In a related development, barely two weeks after the dreaded attack launched on Gwoza town in Borno state by the suspected Boko Haram insurgents, an escapee, called Malam Muhammad Umar, who is a resident in the area, also said that he had spent nine days hiding in a ceiling of a room, saying that he was only lucky to be drinking water every night.
The escapee, who narrated this on the Hausa Service of the BBC monitored in Jos said he would everyday go down from the ceiling to drink water and went back to his hideout (inside ceiling) for good nine days.
Umar said, “ the very day the insurgents invaded Gwoza town, I quickly went up to the ceiling of my room and hide because I have no other choice. I spent good nine days hiding. Every night, I would go down to drink water and return to the ceiling; and that was how I survived for nine days “
On how he was able to escape from Gwoza, he said, “ We managed to go out in the night to a nearby bush and the following day we headed to Madagali, in Adamawa state, on foot.” He further narrated that, “On our way to Madagali, we saw countless dead bodies lying on the ground.”
He, however, said that on their way to Madagali, women have become their watchdog on the road, to ensure that the insurgents were not on the road. He said whenever the women informed them that the insurgents were not present, they then advanced until they reached Madagali.
Meanwhile, Adamawa state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Madagali local government area of the state.
The government said yesterday that the curfew followed “volatile security situation”, which caused loss of lives and property in the local government area.
This was contained in a statement, issued by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Security and Special Service, Government House, Ahmadu Baji.
The statement read, “Following volatile security situation and attendant loss of lives and property and displacement of people, Adamawa state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Madagali local government area.
“The Acting Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, extends heartfelt to all those affected and assures that Government will do everything possible to mitigate their hardship”. The government appealed to the citizens in the area, urging them to cooperate and observe the curfew strictly.