No fewer than 100 people were, weekend, killed in separate attacks in Baga and Izge villages of Kukawa and Gwoza local government areas of Borno State, by Boko Haram insurgents, who also reportedly wounded several others and destroyed property worth millions of Naira. This came as President Goodluck Jonathan said in Lagos, yesterday, that the security challenges facing the country would have been worse without prayers from religious groups across the country.
It has also emerged that the Federal Government may be under pressure to open fresh negotiations with the terrorist group.
President Jonathan, who spoke at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Olive Tree Parish, in Banana Island, Lagos thanked Christians and other religious groups for their prayerful intercessions for the country. He said, but for their prayers, Nigeria would have been worse than it is in terms of the security challenges.
However, the Military High Command has now suspended further rotation of troops deployed to the North East region to fight the Boko Haram terrorists over alleged discovery that troops now play hide and seek to avoid being killed by the terrorists. The order banning further rotation of troops every six months came into effect on February 3.
Aside the weekend attacks, investigations by Vanguard showed that the Boko Haram terrorists had killed over 200 people within the last few weeks as well as inflicting severe wounds on residents who lost property worth billions of naira in Konduga, Gwoza and Kukawa council areas of Borno State.
Vanguard gathered from reliable sources that the attack in Baga village bordering the Chad Republic Friday evening, claimed 10 lives, while the Izge massacre at the Cameroon border with Borno State yesterday morning also left 90 people dead.
The Baga Ízge attacks
On the Baga incident, sources said that the gunmen numbering over 100 invaded the village at about 7pm with sophisticated weapons, including Improvised Explosive Devices, IED’s, and wreaked havoc on innocent citizens before fleeing without being arrested.
A resident, Mallam Ali Yakubu said the gunmen succeeded in killing several people after dislodging some security operatives in the area. He added that the gunmen arrived in Toyota Hilux and several other vehicles and motorcycles while dressed in military camouflage, chanting Allahu Akbar (God is great) and shot at anyone on sight before setting houses ablaze.
“As I am talking to you now, all the dead bodies are still lying on the streets as we can’t get the opportunity of burying them because of fear that the terrorists were still around in the nearby bushes of Izge.
“I thank God for sparing my life yesterday, because I thought my days in this world were over when we started hearing sounds of gunshots and explosions all over Izge in the night. God really had mercy on me. We ran into the bush without being hurt by the insurgents, although, I lost all my belongings,” he added.
The Police Commissioner, Mr. Lawal Tanko confirmed the incidents in a telephone interview with Vanguard, when contacted yesterday.
He said: “Yes there were separate attacks in Baga Village located on an island of Lake Chad where about eight or nine people were killed on Friday, while the terrorists attack on Izge villages of Gwoza Local Government Area on Sunday (yesterday), led to the death of innocent civilians.
“I have already directed the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in-charge of the area to feed me back with details, I will let you know, but as at now, I do not have details on the number of casualties,” Tanko said.
Prayers helping Nigeria — Jonathan
Meanwhile, President Jonathan said in Lagos, yesterday: “I thank Christians and other religious groups that pray for this country especially at the period the whole world is facing a lot of challenges.
“You will agree with me that whenever you tune your television especially the international news centres like CNN, Aljazeera or Sky news you always see breaking news.
“All the breaking news are always negative, you hardly see any positive breaking news all over the world.
“In Nigeria too, we have been having our own fair share of these negative news brought about by the Boko Haram killing people at will. But we believe that God knows it all.
“Without your prayers, probably it would have been worse than this. God has always been faithful to Nigerians. God will continue to hear our prayers so that our country will get out of these challenges of terror and other related crimes” he said.
The President thanked members of the Redeemed church for 100 days of fasting and prayers they have embarked upon saying “even to keep faith with the orthodox 40 days fasting during the lent period which I also participate in is not easy. To fast for 100 day is not an easy task.
“You are fasting not because of your personal interest, but for the country. I have to thank the General Overseer and all of you who have been fasting. God will hear our prayers” he said.
The first Lady of Lagos State, Mrs Abimbola Fashola; the Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs Adejoke Adefulire and the Minister of State for FCT and the Supervisory Minister of Police Affairs, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide were also at the service.
However, the Military High Command suspended further rotation of troops deployed to the North East region to fight the Boko Haram terrorists every six months following alleged discovery that troops now play hide and seek to avoid being killed.
Soldiers playing safe in N-East areas — Military
The authorities believe that, the “mentality of troops deployed to the North East is to play safe pending when they will be rotated. In view of that, there would be no further rotation till the war is brought to a favourable conclusion.”
According to military sources, the only way the new rule would be relaxed and “troops deployed to the North East, unit are rotated will be when they suffer heavy casualty.”
Sources told Vanguard that the Nigerian troops who were circumspect that the Boko Haram insurgents were better equipped than they had resorted to playing safe to avoid being killed in the war against terror.
The sources who confided in Vanguard gave example with last week’s killing of nine soldiers in a border village of Izge in Adamawa State.
The source said that the Boko Haram insurgents travelled from the Sambisa Forest which was over 50 kilometres away from where the troops were stationed to launch the attack on them.
“They arrived Izge in two Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, among other heavy military hardware without hindrance. Although the Nigerian troops fought gallantly and killed some of the Boko Haram terrorists, including the ‘gunner’ in one of the armoured vehicles but the attackers re-grouped and came back the second time and killed the troops as well as wounding one of the officers due to lack of reinforcement.
“Apart from the two APCs, the terrorists came with several other vehicles which enabled them to escape after inflicting such casualties on us. They were even able to carry away their dead or wounded colleagues.
“It is a known fact that the Boko Haram terrorists have their cells at Sambisa Forest, where they get logistics supply from helicopters that fly to the forest from time to time.”
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State was apparently lamenting over the situation when he said at Konduga, in the state last week that members of the Boko Haram sect were better motivated to carry out attacks on innocent people than the Nigerian security agents. Shettima spoke in an interview with newsmen shortly after inspecting the magnitude of the destruction carried out by Boko Haram insurgents at Konduga, Tuesday evening.