The current status of Bama, following the heavy gun battle between soldiers and Boko Haram fighters on Monday is now a subject of confusion due to the conflicting reports flowing from the area.
While the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) addressed the press yesterday saying that Boko Haram didn’t capture Bama, a Senator representing the area, Khalifa Zanna, said that the insurgent group, Tuesday overran Bama, his hometown and local government area.
Senator Zanna told Sahara Reporters that the sect overwhelmed Nigerian troops, took over Bama and had been driving around in armoured tanks and military pickup in the second largest town in Borno State.
The senator stated that the insurgents killed two of his nephews named Babagana Mala Zanna, 28, and Yusuf Mala Zanna, 20, after finding them in his brother’s house in Bama early yesterday morning.
However, the youth vigilante group, supporting security forces for the counter-insurgency operations in Borno state, popularly known as Civilian JTF, yesterday dismissed media reports that Boko Haram militants have captured Bama town in the last Monday’s assault launched in the town.
The youth volunteers argued that the sect suffered serious defeat in an encounter with security forces, as over 170 of its members were killed.
Their spokesman, doubling as legal adviser of the group, Barrister Jubrin Gunda, while briefing newsmen in Maiduguri, said 35 of the insurgents who were wounded in a gun-duel with federal troops were also captured alive.
Leading other executive members of the group at the press briefing, the spokesman, categorically denied that the military lost the area to Boko Haram.
Barrister Gunda, debunked the report in some international media that quoted Senator Ahmed Zannah, who represents the area at the National Assembly as saying Bama was seized by the insurgents.
He said: “It is very unfortunate that a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Zanna who had spent over nine months without visiting Borno and identity with his people over the agony they are going through will sit down in Abuja and grant an interview with some foreign media that Boko Haram have overrun and hoisted their flags in Bama.
This is totally misleading and inflicting/instilling fears on the minds of citizens of the state and residence of Maiduguri in particular.
“ As I am speaking to you now, Bama is still intact, our gallant Nigerian Soldiers are fully on ground, no military barracks that was attacked or bombed as insinuated, people are going about their normal businesses”.
“Although, there were few people from Bama, and nearby Kawuri and Konduga communities that fled to Maiduguri during the encounter on Monday, the truth of the matter is that the attack was repelled. Over 170 of them were killed by the troops and people who fled their communities are now going back and continue their usual businesses”, the spokesman declared.
He said there was no iota of truth in the report as the insurgents actually attempted to overrun the town, but were subdued by the military gallantry at the periphery of the town.
However, we want to re-assure the citizens of Borno State that nobody should panic and no one should leave Maiduguri because all that has been said are mere speculations. People should calm down as security forces are capable, competent to discharge their duties”, he assured.
FG,China, Canada, US in security meeting
Meanwhile, China, Canada and the Nigerian government have scheduled a one day security meeting in Abuja today, aimed at reviewing strategies against Boko Haram.
Other countries expected at the meeting are France, United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), among others.
The meeting is a follow-up to the earlier conferences held at the summit level in Paris, France, on May 17, 2014; the London Ministerial, on June 12, 2014 and the meeting on the same subject matter held on the margins of the recently concluded Africa-United States of America Summit in Washington D.C.
The Abuja meeting will review progress in the implementation of the outcome of the earlier meetings, especially the extent of delivery of foreign assistance, including efforts by the Nigerian government in the continued fight to put to rout the Boko Haram insurgency.
The meeting was confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It also confirmed that foreign ministers of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger would equally be in attendance.
Jonathan seeks more AU action
Also yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan called on African leaders to move against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups to end the rampant killing of innocent people in the continent.
President Goodluck Jonathan charged African leaders to take “action- oriented approach” against the activities of terrorists on the continent.
Speaking at the 455th African Union Peace and Security Council meeting at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi, Kenya, Jonathan noted that the AU has what it takes in terms of legal, political and normative instruments to deal with the rising sophistication of terrorists.