Mubi, the hometown of Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Alex Badeh, has finally fallen into the hands of the Boko Haram sect.
The town, which is the second largest town and one of the commercial hubs of the state, is now under the control of insurgents, according to fleeing residents.
Reports from the town indicate that following the annexation of Mubi town, a fierce battle has ensued between Nigerian troops and the insurgents after the troops were initially overpowered and chased out of Michika local government where they were operating before.
The Nigerian troops reportedly tried to put up a stiff resistance against the incursion of the insurgents but had to succumb to the firepower of the insurgents and flee their barracks which the insurgents annexed and went on to steal assorted weapons.
After this, the insurgents attacked the prison yard in the town and set the inmates free. They also burnt down Mubi police station and other area commands of the town as they went about bastardising all institutions and symbols of authority and hoisting their flags in various locations in the town.
At the time of filing this report, the insurgents were are said to be heading towards the emir’s palace.
The emir, Abubakar Isah Ahmadu, however, was lucky not to be in town when the incident occurred as he was still in Saudi Arabia being the state’s Amirul Hajj, but some of his family members are feared trapped in the palace.
Reports indicate that thousands of residents fled into the bushes and hilltops to the escape the rampaging insurgents. Fleeing residents said they saw many corpses on their way to the bush while many others are through Digil.
When contacted on phone, a fleeing employee of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, one Mr Medan, confirmed that thousands of residents had fled into the bush, adding that “I’m currently speaking to you from the bush.”
Reports also indicate that many of the fleeing residents who tried to cross the Nigeria-Cameroon border were stranded as the Cameroonian gendarmes stopped them from entering their country.
Dozens feared killed
Dozens of Mubi residents are feared killed in the Boko Haram attack on the town.
Reports indicate that a fierce battle had earlier in the day taken place in the town as Nigerian troops put up a last-ditch effort to prevent the commercial town from falling into the hands of the insurgents.
Fleeing residents told journalists that the Nigerian Air Force had started pounding the insurgents with helicopter gunships, with the sound of explosions and gunfire filling the town.
There is apprehension that the repercussions that may result if the insurgents finally capture the town would be colossal as it would lead to a massive humanitarian crisis with hundreds of thousands residents displaced.
A fleeing resident, Mr Peters Joshua, told our reporter on phone that, already, thousands of people had fled Mubi while others had run into the bush to escape the battle raging between the troops and the insurgents.
“Thousands of people have deserted Mubi and neighbouring towns as people scattered into different directions with some heading towards Cameroon Republic as others heading to Yola and Maiha towns while many ran into the bush,” Joshua said.
Another source said that the Boko Haram insurgents also overran from Madagali town to Bazza town,
“They are having field day. Following the intensification of hostilities, I had to sneak into Michika town to pick my aged mother, but, surprisingly, only insurgents were in the town; there were no soldiers around,’’ he said.
Residents of Maiha town have also claimed seeing soldiers heading towards Yola as thousands others who escaped from Mubi headed towards the town.
“We saw soldiers’ vehicles fleeing towards Yola, the state capital,’’ said a local source in Maiha.
The latest attack on Mubi is believed to be an attempt by insurgents to consolidate their grip in the Adamawa North Senatorial Zone having captured Madagali and Michika local governments of the state about two months ago.
Reports indicate that the insurgents had an upper hand on the soldiers, who were on the fringes of Michika town following the earlier success the troops recorded against the insurgents, forcing them to retreat into the nearby villages.
Residents of Uba town, sandwitched between Adamawa and Borno states, have reported that the insurgents had earlier forced the Nigerian troops to beat a retreat to Mubi en route the town.
“The insurgents seemed to have an upper hand against the Nigerian troops as they forced the soldiers to retreat to Mubi from parts of Michika that had been annexed by the insurgents,” a resident of Uba told reporters.
A fleeing resident of the area, Mallam Sani Garta, said the insurgents were giving the Nigerian troops a run for their money in the renewed offensive.
“The insurgents gave the soldiers a hot chase yesterday as they retreated from Mubi. The soldiers passed us in a hasty manner before the insurgents followed them in quick succession, lending credence that they are chasing away the soldiers.
“While passing through the town, the insurgents shot many people leading to the deaths of some people, and people escaped into the nearby bush while others headed towards Maiha and Hong local governments,” the resident said.
The state governor, Bala Ngillari, has asked the people of the state, particularly those in the affected areas, to remain calm as security agents are trying to address the situation.
“This development is unfortunate. His Excellency has met with security chiefs in the state. People should remain calm; security agents are on the top of situation,’’ Mr P.P. Elisha, the director press and public affairs to the governor, said.
Boko Haram hoists flags on Mubi
Boko Haram militants have also hoisted the sect’s flag and imposed a curfew in Mubi.
A resident who spoke with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Malam Ahmad Sajo, said he could not reach his family and parents as the sect had dismantled some communication equipment in the town.
“The attack forced many people in the town to flee to neighbouring towns of Adamawa for fear of possible attacks from the terrorists who now operate freely without confrontation from security operatives,” Sajo said.
The agency reports that the insurgents have already taken over Mararaba Hildi, few kilometres to Mubi town and Uba local government of the state, prompting a mass exodus of the residents and troops.
Residents told the agency that soldiers were seen leaving with their armoured cars and rifles to escape the advancing Boko Haram insurgents.
“The militants arrived around noon (yesterday) after successfully attacking neighbouring towns in an overwhelming attack that began last night,” fleeing resident said.
“Troops guarding the barracks initially exchanged fire with the militants but fled after more militants arrived in the area with heavy firepower.
“It is just a pity that we are not telling ourselves the truth, because there is nothing like ceasefire with Boko Haram. People are just suffering and somebody is out there playing politics with their lives.
“It was just a pity that I was driving and could not take the picture of those fleeing soldiers. This country is in serious trouble,” he added.
DHQ keeps mum
Meanwhile, mum was the response from the military.
The director of information, Defence Headquarters, Major General Chris Olukolade could not be reached through his phone and we received no reply from the text message sent to him.
But a security source said the military should not be held responsible since there was a presidential order asking them to respect the ceasefire pact between the federal government and the sect.
“What do you want us to do when the president and the commander-in-chief ordered us to respect the ceasefire agreement between the federal government and the terrorists. If the order is withdrawn tonight, terrorists are in trouble. If it is true they have taken over any part of the country, we will not welcome that,” the source said.
Another source noted that the latest attacks by the insurgents despite the purported ceasefire deal showed a disagreement among their ranks.
“With this new development, it is an indication that the leadership of the terrorists has been factionalised and this is why we should be at alert because a faction of those criminals are not in support of the ceasefire. But it all depends on the federal government,” he noted.[Leadership]