- As NAF helicopter crashes in Bama
From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri, & Joy Baba, Abuja
The Nigerian military said yesterday that it was mobilising to reverse the siege by terror group, Boko Haram to Damboa, Borno state where the sect is reported to have sacked residents, dislodged the military and hoist its flag.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-General Chris Olukolade, who disclosed this in Abuja, said members of the armed forces were currently preparing to embark on actions that would reverse the present cordon on Damboa by the terrorists.
Olukolade, when asked by newsmen about reports alleging the capture of Damboa by Boko Haram said: “The Nigerian military will not concede any portion of this country to any such group. We are firming up our deployment in that general area. Right now they (members of the armed forces) are setting up their activities to reverse any form of insecurity that is noted around there”.
Similarly, Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mike Omeri, has appealed to Nigerians to disregard alleged threats by some Kano lawyers who warned non-northerners to move out of the area within two weeks or face “the consequences”.
Mr. Omeri, who is the coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC), stated yesterday that all citizens of Nigeria have the right to live anywhere within the country, stressing that, no group of persons or individuals has any right within the Constitution to order the movement of any citizen out of any territory or state.
He asked Nigerians to disregard the threat as similar developments have been reported in Imo state.
Also commenting, Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Frank Mba, said Nigerians have the right to live anywhere in the country and own property as well as pursue their daily lives, so long as they do so within the confines the law.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram attacks in Damboa have displaced 15,204 residents, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri, the Northeast information officer of the agency, AbdulKadir Ibrahim, said the internally displaced persons are currently taking refuge in Biu, Maiduguri, both in Borno state, and Goniri in Gujba local government area of Yobe state.
According to Mr. Ibrahim, the number of displaced persons in Biu as at yesterday stood at 10,204; 3000 are in Maiduguri and 2,000 in Goniri.
He said the displaced people were not only from Damboa town but also from surrounding locations of Kimba, Madaragrau, Mandafuma, Chikwar Kir, Bomburatai and Sabon Kwatta.
He disclosed that the agency has concluded plans to take relief materials to the displaced persons, after initial assessment indicated that the IDPs require basic household items, including plates, spoons, towels, cups, clothings, beddings, food items, blankets, mosquito nets and sanitary pads.
The NEMA spokesman said the new IDPs have added up the initial figure of 149,903 persons that the agency has had to attend to from January, 2014 to date in the area.
In another development, a Nigerian Air Force, NAF helicopter has reportedly crashed in Bama south.
The Nigerian Air Force Mi-35 helicopter, according to General Olukolade, was on a training mission yesterday afternoon, when it crashed “due to technical fault” at a location South of Bama.
Olukolade said in a statement that investigation has commenced to unravel the circumstances that led to the accident, adding that it been established that the crash was not as a result of any enemy action.
One of the pilots of the crashed chopper, according to the defence headquarters, has been recovered alive.
The co-pilot as well as the technician on board the 3-member flight crew however died in the crash. Rescue was still ongoing, up to our press time last night.
Bama is one of the locations in the North-east state of Borno where the extremist Boko Haram sect has intensified its terrorist activities.
Although the military authorities blamed the crash of the helicopter on “technical fault”, an expert who declined to be named strongly doubted the official claim, saying that “it was improbable to conduct training in an area that is a battlefield”.