Thousands of residents in various parts of Borno state, yesterday trooped to Sambisa Forest, which served as the major hide-out of the Boko Haram insurgents but was destroyed by the security forces in their latest assault against the insurgents.
Security sources told newsmen that over 300 militants lost their lives when military jet fighters and ground forces launched a massive operation on various terrorists’ cells in Sambisa.
Similarly, several insurgents were said to have been captured and high calibre of assorted arms and ammunition either destroyed or recovered in the operation.
The sources further hinted that presently, ground troops from Yobe and Adamawa states have approached Sambisa side of Borno state and cordoned the entire area to confront other insurgents who escaped from the military operation.
The residents have therefore turned Sambisa forest into a Mecca of sorts. It was observed that when news filtered in Maiduguri that the insurgents were dislodged from their camp, hundreds of people besieged the area to catch a glimpse of what hitherto used to be the most dangerous zone and no-go area for both civilians and security operatives.
Anxiety for the people to visit the camp became high following the circulation of a purported video footage in which heap of dead bodies suspected to be of the insurgents were seen inside the forest.
In the footage, several dismantled corpses were also seen scattered in the scene, with soldiers parking them in a single site.
However those who visited the scene said security operatives guarding the area disallowed them from taking pictures, not even on phones.
Further checks revealed that residents trooped to the area both through Kawuri village in Konduga local government area and Damboa axis, which are the easy entrances into Sambisa.
Due to the mass influx, transport fare has gone up. From Maiduguri to the area, which hitherto cost N300 has now risen to N500.
Malam Modu Goni, who claimed to have visited the camp, described it as a gory sight due to the number of corpses of suspected insurgents killed by the military.
“We passed through several check points mounted by the military before reaching the area. When we finally arrived, everyone went thorough checks by the military while fighter jets and military helicopter were conducting aerial surveillance.
“We were directed by the security forces to a particular scene where hundreds of dead bodies were laying on ground, many dismantled with several human parts scattered. We equally saw several assorted brands of burnt vehicles comprising of Hilux, Volkswagen and motorcycles”, he further narrated.
According to him, several structures, which included combat training ground, tunnels, parking space, armoury clinic, store, kitchen and laundry were, among others were erected in the camp.
“We were actually surprised to see the high number of bags of assorted foodstuffs, stocked inside underground storage. Though I didn’t have chance to count, they may be over 50,000 bags. Unfortunately, no one was allowed to take pictures, ” he added.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has again called on President Goodluck Jonathan to take time off his premature electioneering campaigns to visit Yobe state in order to commiserate with the bereaved families of the innocent schoolchildren who were brutally murdered by terrorists last month.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was totally inconceivable that about two weeks after the heart-wrenching killings of more than 29 schoolchildren, Jonathan has not deemed it fit to visit the state.
It said far from being a mere formality, such a visit would provide great succour to the families of the victims, reassure them and other residents of the state that their government has not abandoned them to their fate, and also serve as a morale booster for the gallant troops battling the terrorists, against all odds.
”There is no other democracy in the world in which that number of schoolchildren will be killed and the head of government will carry on with business as usual. Since the killings, President Jonathan has made a national broadcast in which he mentioned the killings only as a footnote, instead of making it the central point of the broadcast”, it said, regretting that Jonathan even “presided over a wasteful national celebration, in which the drums were rolled out to mark the country’s centenary even as devastated families were still mourning and those injured were reeling from their pains”.
The APC challenged the President to tell Nigerians why he has not or why he would not visit the scene of the gruesome murders.
Similarly, a pro-democracy group, National Democratic Front (NDF) has accused President Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of insensitivity over the hosting of political rallies when security challenges are left unattended to.
The group also challenged the president to visit the North east and have an on-the spot assessment of the killings instead of attending rallies and breaching the Electoral Act by campaigning before the mandated 90 days preceding elections under the disguise of unity rallies.
In a statement issued in Minna by its National Coordinator, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, the group regretted that the president and the ruling party have been staging what it termed jamborees (rallies) across the country in the last three weeks when the nation bleeds and innocent lives are gruesomely terminated.
“If the president and PDP fail to find solution to the security challenges, NDF will ensure that he is voted out of office at the next poll,” the statement warned.