The outlawed Islamist sect, Boko Haram, on Sunday continued its expansionist drive by overrunning Michika and Uba in Adamawa State.
The capture of the two communities brings to 13, the number of communities now controlled by the sect in the North East. The others are Gwoza, Buni Yadi, Gamboru Ngala, Damboa, Marte, Bama, Bara, Banki, Gulak, Dikwa and Madagali.
News of the capture of Michika and Uba coincided with lamentation on Sunday by the Secretary to the Borno State Government, Amb. Baba Jidda, that most parts of Borno State had been taken over by Boko Haram.
A security source told The PUNCH that the sect which took over Gulak on Friday night, moved from there to Uba.
He added that when the soldiers on guard saw the insurgents arriving in over 50 pick -up vans and hundreds of motorcycles, they retreated because they were outnumbered.
The source also said that the arms and ammunition in possession of the insurgents were superior to those held by the soldiers.
The insurgents, it was learnt, moved from Uba to Michika, which is the hometown of a former Lagos State military administrator and Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship aspirant, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.)
It was gathered on Sunday that they also headed for Mubi, the host community to the Adamawa State University.
A source, who confided in one of correspondents, said that the military later deployed fighter jets and helicopters in the areas to chase out the insurgents .
He added that eight trucks carrying some troops were sighted going to the troubled areas.
It was further gathered that the Adamawa State Acting Governor, Alhaji Adamu Fintiri, on learning that many of the residents of the troubled communities were fleeing, dispatched six luxury buses to move them to Yola.
Our source said that the insurgents, who were firing into the air, were advising the people not to flee because they had only come to engage the military in gun battle.
He said, “The Boko Haram members are now in Uba and Michika, the headquarters of Michika Local Government Area.
“The insurgents who were moving in over 50 hillux vans and hundreds of motorcycles, were wielding assorted weapons.
“When they started advancing from Madagali to Uba, the soldiers who were in Uba withdrew to Michika and they(insurgents) headed for Michika and Mubi.
“There was no shootout between them and the soldiers even though eight trucks carrying troops were sighted on the road leading to those communities. Air Force fighter jets were also said to have pursued them.
“Several people fled the communities to avoid being killed by insurgents.”
One of the residents of Michika, who is now taking refuge in Hong, Joseph Kwaya, said, “We left the town based on the instruction of the military. As I am talking to you, majority of the people in the area have left out of fear.
“The situation is very bad and we pray God to intervene and bring an end to the activities of Boko Haram.”
It was not only the people of Michika, Mubi and Uba that fled, their neighbours in Bazza and Marraban also took to their heels on learning that the insurgents were advancing.
A source,who did not want his name in print, said many people from Uba and Marraban Mubi were also seen trekking long distances to find vehicles that could take them to Hong and Yola.
A resident of Hong, Ibrahim Danjil, said, “Our town is now full of people who fled from Uba, Michika, Madagali and Bazza.”
Efforts to contact the Chief Press Secretary to the Acting Governor, Solomon Kumangar, for comments proved abortive.
One of our correspondents also made repeated efforts to get the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, to comment on the increasing activities of insurgents in Adamawa State without success.
Most parts of Borno now occupied by Boko Haram –SSG
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Borno State Government, Amb. Baba Jidda, has lamented that most parts of the state were now being occupied by Boko Haram.
Jidda, at a news conference in Abuja on Sunday, added that normal government, economic, social and political activities in the state had been dislocated.
He also said that a huge number of displaced persons was now living in refugee camps in Maiduguri and neighbouring states as well as Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The SSG, who advised politicians to de-emphasise discussions on 2015 , regretted that in spite of the security challenge in Borno State, the Independent National Electoral Commission went ahead to fix October 3 for a by-election in Jere LGA .
In his prepared speech titled, “Imperatives of Peace before Politicking,’’ he appealed to all well-meaning sons and daughters of the state to jettison politicking for now for the sake of the continued existence of Nigeria and survival of democracy.
He said it would be callous for anyone to be scheming for any political office in the state in the face of the security situation in the state.
Jidda said, “At this very moment, most parts of Borno State are being occupied by Boko Haram insurgents. Government presence and administration are minimal or non-existent across many parts of the state, with economic, commercial and social services totally subdued. Schools and clinics remain closed.
“Most settlements in the affected areas in the state have either been deserted or access to them practically impossible, thus majority of the political stakeholders cannot, in real fact reach their constituencies.
‘’So, the threat of insecurity affects everybody irrespective of political differences. The enabling environment for politics and electioneering campaign is simply not obtainable at present in Borno State. In the view of many, the thought about politics and pursuit of political interest in this environment appears absurd, callous and morally repulsive.’’
The SSG called for a summit of eminent citizens of the state to articulate broad-based solutions to the threat posed by the insurgents.
He advised that the eminent citizens should at the end of the summit seek an audience with President Goodluck Jonathan over the insurgency in the North-East.
The SSG said, “In the light of this grim scenario, it is absolutely essential for all patriotic citizens of Borno State to rise in a united spirit to focus and solve the challenges posed by insecurity, which is a real threat to our collective survival.
“In this regard, it is hereby proposed first, that a meeting of all stakeholders, elders and statesmen from Borno State, irrespective of sectarian, ethnic and political persuasions should be convened to review the state of affairs in Borno State.
“Second, this group should seek audience with the President to present collectively the unbearable conditions imposed on the people of Borno State by these crises, including the agony and pains of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and their parents.
“Such an approach is expected to specifically open gates for decisively tackling insecurity and its attendant economic and social burdens on our state, the North-East and Nigeria as a whole.
“This approach is envisaged to rescue Borno State and return peace to create the essential environment for normal life and politics.”
He appealed to INEC to postpone forthwith, the October 3 election “because the environment is not conducive for conducting elections. “
“At the moment, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council and Jere Local Government Area are full of refugees from Marte, Gwoza, Ngala, Bama and other parts of the state,” the SSG added.
Uduaghan urges prayer for insurgents’ death
In Warri, Delta State, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan urged Nigerians to pray for the death of Boko Haram members .
Uduaghan, at the Sunday service by the Avenue Baptist Church, said the insurgents had lost the right to live.
“As a nation, we have the challenge of Boko Haram, we should pray that those who do not want others to live will not also live,” he said.
The governor however called on Nigerians to rally behind Jonathan to enable him tackle the challenges posed by the insurgents.
He said, “There is no President that faced the type of challenges our President is facing today. Let us rally round him and continue to pray for him and our brothers and sisters in the North because they are facing a lot of challenges.”
Uduaghan, who has a few months left to leave as governor, scored himself high in the area of security.
Jonathan to meet Deby over terrorism
Meanwhile Jonathan will on Monday (today) travel to N’Djamena, Chad for a meeting with President Idriss Deby over the activities of insurgents Nigeria.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said in a statement on Sunday that the meeting was part of “the Federal Government’s efforts to forge a stronger alliance against terrorism with Nigeria’s neighbours.”
He added that Jonathan’s talk with Deby, who is also the current Chairman of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, would be a follow-up to their discussions during the African Union Peace and Security Council summit in Nairobi, Kenya last week.
The statement read in part, “President Jonathan and his host will discuss the further actualisation of agreements for greater cooperation against insurgents and terrorists reached by Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon at a meeting in Paris earlier this year.
“Their talks are expected to lead to the strengthening of the Paris Accord on joint border patrols, intelligence sharing and the prevention of the illicit movement of terrorists, criminals, arms and ammunition across shared borders.”
Abati said the President would return to the country on Tuesday.
He added that Jonathan would be a Special Guest of Honour at an international conference on Information Technology and Communication in N’Djamena on Tuesday before returning to Nigeria the same day.
The President will travel in company with the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd); the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson; the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed; and the Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency, Prof. Sheidu Mohammed.
NLC, Akanbi decry B’ Haram attacks
Also on Sunday, a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi; the Vice-President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu; the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Ethics and Values, Dr. Sarah Jibril; and a former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, have decried the occupation of some towns in Borno State by Boko Haram.
The sect had reportedly captured, Bama, Bara, Banki in Borno State as well as Gulak and Madagali in Adamawa State.
While Akanbi and Aremu spoke on Sunday on the sidelines of a three-day workshop of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria in Ilorin, Jibril and Coomasie spoke at the inauguration of a 21-day training for about 120 Muslims and Christian beneficiaries in agric business.
The programme was entitled, ‘Linking women and youths to sustainable green development and income generation through agric business.’
Akanbi stated that the occupation of the towns was a violation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Noting that the capture of the towns posed a serious image challenge to the nation’s military, he urged soldiers to flush out the insurgents so as to restore their dignity and preserve Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
Aremu said the capture of the towns by the Boko Haram had given a great challenge to the professional integrity and competence of the military.
Noting that Nigerian soldiers excelled in peace keeping operations, he called for the provision of necessary support for them to defeat the insurgents.
He said, “Nigerians need presidential assurance about the unity of our great country. The President should offer leadership for all Nigerians regardless of their callings for a national resistance against the invasion of our country.
“President Jonathan must implement the National Conference report as it affects national security, especially in appointing key critical security positions based on merit and sense of patriotism.”
Jibril and Coomasie as well as the Initiator, Islamic Green Club Empowerment Initiative, Hajia Bola Usman, identified unemployment as a contributor to insecurity and poverty in the country.
They stated that the engagement of youths and women in agriculture and other forms of employment and income generation would reduce youth restiveness and poverty.
Jibril urged all retired generals and top officials of security agencies in the country to team up with the soldiers and ensure that the Boko Haram members were flushed out.[Punch]