The Borno Elders’ Forum (BEF) yesterday lamented the horror, death, destruction and misery that haveenveloped the North-eastern Nigeria and particularly Borno State by Boko Haram, warning that the sect has strategized and completely surrounded the city of Maiduguri.
BEF in a statement signed by the chairman of the forum, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari Usman issued on Thursday said the insurgents have advanced as far as Kayamla from the south of Maiduguri; Dikwa and Mafa from the east of Maiduguri; and have destroyed almost all the island settlements at Lake Chad and the commercial fishing towns of Baga, Doro, Kingarra, Duguri, DabanMasara, among others
The forum warned that the sect’s imminent target is to take the city of Maiduguri as almost half of the population of Borno now reside in Maiduguri.
The forum stated that, “The Boko Haram insurgents did not only grow in size and numbers but seemed to have become better equipped and trained, more sophisticated and the scope of their brutality has become overwhelming,”
The forum called on the federal government to urgently fortify in and around the city of Maiduguri saying that the insurgents have surrounded Maiduguri and are nursing the ambition of attacking the city from all directions.
According to the forum “There is credible local intelligence information to that effect.” warning that the authorities must be pro-active as Maiduguri is presently heavily pregnant with people who have trooped into it hoping for safety.
The elders’ forum revealed that insurgents have rendered impassable almost all the roads leading to Maiduguri and have destroyed major bridges on the highways including the only bridge linking Nigeria-Chad and Cameroun. Also destroyed are financial institutions, schools, hospitals as well as places of worship while the military have abandoned their post.
The forum said the insurgents have been kidnapping children including very young girls in their thousands and camping them in their hide outs in the expansive Sambisa Forest and may be possibly indoctrinating them to be their fighting forces and also suicide bombers.
The federal government has however, debunked the forum’s allegations,saying that the government had been doing much to halt the spread of insurgency as signified by the government of Borno State.
In a telephone interview in Abuja, Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Mr. Mike Omeri, who coordinates the National Information Centre, said the statement issued by the Borno Elders Forum was far from the truth
His words, “That forum’s statement is far from the truth. The state government even recently commended the military for its effort in halting the spread of Boko Haram.
Omeri also disclosed that the Nigerian army has deployed 500 more soldiers to the zone.
Omeri made this known yesterday in Abuja while intimating press men on development in the fight against insurgency.
The newly deployed troops he added will be sent to Mubi, Michika and Madagali, three major towns in Adamawa State now threatened by Boko Haram sects.
According to him “the re-enforcement of military presence in the north east continued within the week contrary to media reports of widespread incursions and sacking of the areas by the insurgents.
The Defence Headquarters in a tweet on its handle Thursday evening, said Mubi, Michika, Bazza, Gulak, Gwoza, Bama, Gamboru Ngala and other towns and villages in the region are being stabilized through air and land attacks against fleeing and dying terrorists.
“The efforts are yielding impressive a result in the overall move to rid the areas of terrorist’s activities.” It said
But,contrary to claims by the Defence Headquarters that the military has recaptured Bama town in Borno state, which was seized by the Boko Haram insurgents 11 days ago, indigenes of the area under the aegis of Bama Development Foundation (BDF) yesterday disputed the claims, insisting that the town is still being held and controlled by the militants.
“After the taking over of the second largest town in the state, over 200 residents lost their lives, several others wounded. Some were drowned in the River Yadzaram in the process of fleeing while others were shot dead. This is besides hundreds of women, children and elderly persons, who were either missing or being held by the insurgents”, Chairman of the forum, Mallam Mohammed Hassan, has declared.
Malam Hassan, who briefed newsmen over the incident, admitted that the military attempted to repel the attack, before being overpowered by the militants.
He said that those in captivity are under serious trauma, starvations, distress with serious degrees of injuries, while in the other hand; those that have lost their lives are yet to be buried.