Adamawa State Governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako (retd), and state officials in his convoy on Friday fled Shuwa in Madagali Local Government Area of the state upon learning of the advancement of Boko Haram members in the area.Nyako, who was on condolence visits to victims of Boko Haram attacks in Shuwa, Gulak and Michika, was at his first town of call when he was alerted to the advancement of insurgents in the area again.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the governor scampered to safety upon hearing what was suspected to be an exchange of gunfire between soldiers and members of the Islamic sect. The governor, it was further learnt, was immediately whisked into the vehicle by his security details, who advised that all other visits should be cancelled.
An eyewitness, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, explained that the governor and his entourage were in Shuwa to commiserate with victims of recent attacks by members of the Islamic sect.
One of the aides of the governor, who spoke to journalists, said the incident happened about 12pm when the governor went with his team to visit the victims of the insurgency.
The aides, while disclosing that the plan was to visit all the areas attacked and condole with the victims of Wednesday evening attacks by the insurgents, which left more than 30 persons dead and properties worth several millions of Naira destroyed, said the governor was alerted to the advancement of the insurgents at Shuwa village and had to return to Yola immediately.
He said: “The governor was addressing the victims at Shuwa when a military truck appeared from the blues and the soldiers started shouting ‘they (insurgents) are coming.’”
He explained that the soldiers had blocked the road with a truck and were shooting sporadically into the air and instructed the security details of the governor, who had approached them, to turn back because of the advancement of the insurgents.
He said that following the sudden U-turn, some of the vehicles on the governor’s entourage ran into each other, denting some vehicles in the process
He, however, revealed that there was no casualty recorded as there were minor dents on the cars involved, which “were even driven back to Yola.”
Recounting his ordeal to journalists in Yola on Friday afternoon, the News Agency of Nigeria quoted Nyako to have said that he was in the community to commiserate with the people over gunmen’s attack in the area on Wednesday.
He said, “After addressing the villagers, some soldiers approached me as I was about to enter my car and said that Boko Haram members were coming.
“The soldiers were shouting: ‘they are here, they are here.’ So, I asked them: ‘who?’ They said Boko Haram members are around.
“After that, one of the soldiers started shooting. So, the first thing we need to do, naturally, is to get out of the scene.’’
While explaining that his convoy was not attacked, the governor said he had to return to Yola on learning that the sect was advancing towards some of the areas he had scheduled to visit.
NAN said that four shots were fired by the soldier, prompting the security personnel to take position while others drove off with the governor. It added that the villagers also ran to different directions for safety.
On the entourage of the governor were the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmadu Fintiri, Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Abakasangha, Secretary to the Government, Chief Kobis Thimnu, and some commissioners.
Another eyewitness, who was part of the convoy, narrated the governor’s ordeal to Saturday PUNCH.
He said, “We went to Shuwa with the governor to commiserate with the victims with the intention of going to Michika to do same.
“However, the situation took another turn when, just before we left the venue of the first attack in Shuwa, we heard a staccato of gunfire.
“We had to scamper into our cars and the brave security details took the governor to their car leaving the staff car empty.
“We left the place in confusion and proceeded to Yola without stopping at Michika.”
Another source explained that the gunfire followed an attempt by gunmen to infiltrate the town but their efforts were thwarted by soldiers who were on patrol.
However, a statement signed by the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, denied some media accounts of the incident.
He said the claims that the governor’s convoy came under attack were untrue.
The statement partly read: “The truth is that the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, visited Michika and Shuwa areas of the state to sympathise with the communities that were attacked by terrorists recently.
“While returning, the convoy came across a noticeable pandemonium which resulted from the alarm raised by some people who had mistaken a convoy movement of troops on patrol at Kirchinga village, for another impending attack by terrorists.
“In the ensuing stampede and confusion, people scampered into the bush ostensibly to escape from those mistaken for terrorists.”
The military high command said it was constrained to “set the records straight” because earlier reports about the incident were capable of causing unnecessary anxiety and heighten tension. It called on residents to go about their activities while remaining vigilant.
The statement also said the operations in the North-East were being consolidated and every effort was being made to stop the terrorists from continuing their atrocities in that part of the country. (-Punch)tweet