“We want Zannah, who hardly visits Borno State, talk more of his constituency to make sure he backs his spurious claims with facts.”
Top security officials in Borno State on Wednesday confirmed that over 100 civilians were killed by suspected members of the Boko Haram in Gamboru, Borno State.
The terrorists stormed the area, a border community between Nigeria and Cameroon, on Monday night using improvised explosive devices, IEDs, armoured personnel carriers, rocket propelled grenades, and other dangerous weapons.
The senator representing the area in the National Assembly, Ahmed Zannah, had on Tuesday told the BBC Hausa Service that over 300 people were killed in the attacks.
Mr. Zannah said the armed men stormed the area on Monday night while residents were sleeping. He said they shot indiscriminately at people and that “almost all the houses in the communities were destroyed by the hoodlums.”
However, top security officials in Borno State, who confirmed the attack, disputed the figures quoted by Mr. Zannah.
The security officials said the actual casualty figure was “over a hundred’, and accused the senator of celebrating Boko Haram attacks and killings in his constituency.
A top security official who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in Maiduguri said Mr. Zannah’s disposition towards the activities of the Boko Haram is gradually becoming questionable “and we in the security circle are beginning to get uncomfortable with his stance”.
The source who spoke under strict condition of anonymity said the official figure of casualties in the attack “is at now slightly over a hundred.”
He said that figure may increase if some of the badly injured persons do not survive.
“We want Zannah who hardly visits Borno State, talk more of his constituency to make sure he backs his spurious claims with fact, because these are human lives we are dealing with here, for God sake,” the official said.
The official suggested that Mr. Zannah was complicit in the attack by claiming to have been contacted by his constituents even if the attack took place in areas where telecom network was non-functional.
“The figure we have at hand presently is over a hundred and here we have someone who is in Abuja granting interviews on international media over an incident that took place barely five hours and quoting figures,” he said.
The official also accused the senator of not cooperating with security officials in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Why is the senator always the first to raise alarm on attacks?” quizzed the senior security source. “Every time he comes up with claims, he would quote outrageous figures, even before the aid workers and security operatives on ground get the correct casualty figures. It is his kinsmen that are perpetrating these killings and instead of him coming out as a patriot to assist us with credible information that would end this problem, all he does is running to the media and quoting figures, as though it was the soldiers or the police that were are attacking, killing people”.
Mr. Zannah and security officials in Borno have a history as regards the Boko Haram.
In October 2012, the then Joint Task Force, JTF, in Borno said it arrested a major Boko Haram leader, Shuaibu Bama, at a senator’s house in Damboa Road, Maiduguri.
The senator turned out, as reported by PREMIUM TIMES, to be Mr. Zannah; with the suspect described as his cousin.
A few days later, the senator was questioned for over 9 hours by the security agencies for his alleged link to the Boko Haram.
He had then claimed that he was being persecuted for accusing the military of extrajudicial killings.
“The constitution does not allow them to kill people at will. I have started exposing them. We have been quiet for some time and when we saw that nothing was happening, nobody is restraining them, so we had to speak out because people are just being killed unnecessarily,” the senator had said.
The declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, as well as Yobe and Adamawa, since May last year has not deterred the Boko Haram from killing thousands of people and burning property. The sect has also been involved in the kidnap of people, largely women.
On April 14, over 250 students of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State were kidnapped by the sect members and are yet to be found. The Boko Haram has threatened to either kill the teenage girls or marry them off.