Tag Archives: Boko Haram

Twin Blasts Kill Over 40 In Kaduna As Buhari Escapes Death

Scene of the kaduna bomb

A curfew is in place in Kaduna as residents mourn their dead

Over 40 people were killed Wednesday as twin bomb explosions ripped through Kaduna State in north-western Nigeria.

The first explosion occurred along Isa Kaita Road close to the popular Murtala Mohammed Square, targeting a prominent Islamic cleric, Dahiru Bauchi.

The blast killed 25 people, and injured many more, police said.

At the bomb scene close to the square where Mr. Bauchi delivered a Ramadan lecture, dismembered bodies lay strewn on the blood-stained soil.

Wednesday’s blast was the second targeting Mr. Bauchi in Kaduna State in the last two three weeks. The first explosion near his house injured one person.

The Sheikh is a known critic of the extremist Boko Haram sect, but it not clear whether the group is responsible for the Wednesday attack.

As news of the attack spread across the state, and the country, a second explosion occurred barely two hours later, this time targeting a former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari's bullet-proof SUV after bomb attack
Buhari’s bullet-proof SUV after bomb attack

The blast occurred as Mr. Buhari drove through the busy Kawo Market area of Kaduna city.
In a short statement, Mr. Buhari said he was the target of the bomber.

“I was personally involved in a clearly targeted bomb attack today along Ali Akilu Road, Kawo-Kaduna at about 2:30pm on my way to Daura,” Mr. Buhari said.

“The unfortunate event, clearly an assassination attempt, came from a fast moving vehicle that made many attempts to overtake my security car but was blocked by my escort vehicle.

“We reached the market area of Kawo where he took advantage of our slowing down and attempted to ram my car and instantly detonated the bomb which destroyed all the three cars in our convoy,” Mr. Buhari said.

The former leader said when he came down from his vehicle, he saw many dead bodies littered around.

“They were innocent people going about their daily business who became victims of mass murder,” he said.

At least 15 persons died in the second explosion.

The Spokesperson for the Department of State Security, SSS, Marylyn Ogar, said the first attack took place about two kilometres from the venue of the Ramadan prayer session because the insurgents could not move their vehicle closer due to heavy security presence.

The spokesperson of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Lai Mohammed, said the explosion was targeted at the former head of state.

“Yes, his convoy was attacked,” Mr. Mohammed said in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry. “He narrowly escaped but some of his aides were hurt. The General is ok, but perhaps traumatised.”

A loyalist of Mr. Buhari, Rotimi Fashakin, said the former head of state was on his way to his home town – Daura in neighbouring Katsina state – when he was trailed by the bomber and attacked.

“I’m sure political Boko Haram are behind the attack,” Mr. Fashakin said. “General Buhari was the target of the attack.”

The leader of a pro-Buhari pressure group, The Buhari Vanguard, Jasper Azuatalam, said the former Nigerian leader was possibly attacked over his recent criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Recall that two days ago, Gen Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement warning President Jonathan and his government on their attempt to muscle the opposition and endanger Nigeria,” Mr. Azuatalam said. “The Presidency raised an eyebrow to the statement.”

The police had earlier confirmed that 25 persons were killed in the first explosion.

Curfew Imposed

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Governor, Ramalan Yero, has imposed a 24-hour curfew in Kaduna metropolis following the twin explosions that rocked the city.

Mr. Yero condemned the explosions, describing the acts as the height of ‘cowardice’ by those bent on creating tension in the state.

He said the curfew, which took effect immediately, became necessary to enable security agencies to restore normalcy to the troubled city.

A statement by the governor’s spokesperson, Ahmed Maiyaki, quoted Mr. Yero as blaming the explosions on ‘agents of darkness’ bent on soaking the land with the blood of the innocent.

“Enemies of peace have visited us with their ungodly venom of wanton destruction of human lives,” the governor said. “This blast, coming in the Holy Month of Ramadan, is a clear indication that those behind the act have no iota of fear of God as they have none for the sanctity of human life.”

Mr. Yero said despite the success recorded in improvement of security in the state, it had now become obvious that more still needed to be done to safeguard the lives and properties of residents at all times and in all places.

He called on the people of the state to consider such unwarranted attacks on innocent people across the state as aggression by evil against good that must be collectively condemned by all.

The governor urged residents of the state to be more vigilant with happenings around them and avoid unnecessary crowded areas.

He also advised residents to provide more support to security agencies by providing useful information on suspicious movements and persons within and around their communities.

“The time has come for us to eschew all our differences and confront these brazen attacks as a united people,” Mr. Yero added.

“Those behind these attacks have no regards for whatever diversity as their victims cut across all ethnic and religious divides. It is a responsibility on all of us to unite against this common enemy.”

The governor also commiserated with the families of victims of the blasts and directed security agencies to intensify surveillance while also pursuing the perpetrators of the blasts.

Similar attacks have occurred in many parts of Northern Nigeria.

In May, the Emir of Gwoza, Shehu Mustapha Idris Timta, was shot dead in an attack carried out by Boko Haram insurgents.

The then Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, had survived an assassination attempt in January 2013 when suspected insurgents opened fire on his convoy.

Buhari’s convoy bombed in Kaduna, 3 aides injured

Buhari attacked by Boko Harram 22

The retired general survived the attack

The convoy of a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, was caught in the second explosion that rocked Kaduna on Wednesday, witnesses, his party, and close aides have said.

While Mr. Buhari escaped unhurt in the explosion that occurred at the busy Kawo market area of the city, three of his security aides were injured and rushed to hospital.

A close aide of Mr. Buhari said the bomber, who drove in a Toyota Sienna vehicle, rammed into the general’s convoy and detonated the explosive-laden vehicle.

He said the opposition leader survived the attack, but his vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, and another one behind it were badly damaged.

“The General survived and he has already been evacuated in a Golf Volkswagen vehicle‎,” he said.

He also said Mr. Buhari’s damaged vehicle was towed away by emergency workers.

The spokesperson of Mr. Buhari’s All Progressive Congress, [APC], Lai Mohammed, said the explosion was targeted at the former head of state.

“Yes, his convoy was attacked,” Mr. Mohammed said in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry. “He narrowly escaped but some of his aides were hurt. The General is ok, but perhaps traumatised.”

A loyalist of Mr. Buhari, Rotimi Fashakin, said the former head of state was on his way to his home town – Daura in neighbouring Katsina state – when he was trailed by the bomber and attacked.

“I’m sure political Boko Haram are behind the attack,” Mr. Fashakin said. “General Buhari was the target of the attack.”

The leader of a pro-Buhari pressure group, The Buhari Vanguard, Jasper Azuatalam, said the former Nigerian leader was possibly attacked over his recent criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Recall that two days ago, Gen Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement warning President Jonathan and his government on their attempt to muscle the opposition and endanger Nigeria,” Mr. Azuatalam said. “The Presidency raised an eyebrow to the statement.”

The Kaduna state command of the Nigeria Police could not be reached to comment on the bombing involving Mr. Buhari.

The mobile telephone of the command’s spokesperson, Aminu Lawan, was switched off the numerous times this newspaper called.

The police had earlier put the death toll in the first explosion along Alkali road at 25.

Governor Muktar Yero has announced a 24 hour curfew in Kaduna metropolis.

APC calls for new thinking, not just new money, to tackle Boko Haram

APC Yobe rally 2

APC suggests that FG should look for other ways aside from military campaigns in tackling Boko Haram.

The opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday said what is needed to effectively tackle the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria, is new and imaginative thinking, instead of sticking to the same old way of doing things.

The party cited the Federal Government’s recent request for a $1 billion (N162 billion) loan as representing the “old way.”

President Goodluck Jonathan had last week forwarded a request for approval to obtain the loan to the National Assembly.

Mr. Jonathan said the loan was needed to procure additional weapons in order to effectively prosecute the war against insurgency in the northern part of the country.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC said while no reasonable person would argue against procuring modern weapons and other needs for the military, it was, however, absolutely important to complement the military campaign against Boko Haram with political, social and economic measures.

He pointed out that a sustained military campaign dating back to 2009 had failed to end the crisis.

”Between 2010 and 2014, a total of $14 billion (N2.27 trillion) has been allocated for defence, security and the police. This year alone, the total sum is $4 billion (N649 billion). Now, if $14 billion has not clipped the wings of Boko Haram in five years, what difference can $1 billion make if thrown into the crisis in the same old way?” Mr. Mohammed asked.

He said that if the Nigerian government had not accounted for the $14 billion, why should it be given the green light to borrow another $1 billion?

“If the said $14 billion has not done much in upgrading military and security facilities in five years, what impact can $1 billion suddenly make? These are some of the questions we want the National Assembly to ask before giving the FG the go ahead to plunge Nigeria into another round of external debts,” he stated.

Mr. Mohammed cited bad governance as the root cause of the Boko Haram crisis.

”Talking of new and imaginative thinking, it is generally agreed that the root causes of the Boko Haram crisis are deep in the years of bad governance that have created an army of unemployed youth in the North-east, which is the epicentre of the crisis; the years of bad governance that have meant many that millions of youth are uneducated and unemployable; and the years of bad governance that have resulted in dilapidated infrastructure, lack of social amenities, inadequate schools and a total disconnect between the government and the governed.

”Yet, the FG that has only allocated a paltry, insulting N2 billion for its misguided ‘Marshall plan’ for the North-east is asking for US$1 billion to buy new weapons to fight Boko Haram! Imagine what a substantial fraction of US$14 billion can do to the efforts to uplift the North-east, put children back to school, give the youth life-enhancing training and put the army of unemployed beyond the reach of the extremists who recruit and indoctrinate them to kill, maim and destroy?” he asked.

Mr. Mohammed suggested that “new thinking” would mean channelling the $1 billion into winning the hearts and minds of the people in the battle against Boko Haram rather than “just throwing money at an endless and increasingly ineffective military campaign”.

The APC also warned that by continuing to put undue emphasis on the military, the Nigerian government was signalling a hardening of position, indicating that the crisis could only be resolved by a military campaign and foreclosing negotiation.

The party said that unfortunately for the government, nowhere in the world has insurgency been defeated purely by military campaign, not even by the world’s most powerful militaries.

”We challenge the PDP-led FG to name places in the world where terrorism was successfully defeated by military means alone. Events in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, etc. have shown that there is always a limit to the ability of the military to crush insurgency. Even with some of the world’s best militaries (USA, UK, France, etc.), terrorism is never successfully defeated militarily. The way to go is effective counter-terrorism, which is about winning hearts and minds, not winning battles.

”This is why the National Assembly must show the highest degree of patriotism and commitment to national security by demanding how the billions of dollars thrown at the Boko Haram crisis so far have been spent, what, in specific terms, the FG wants to do with a new loan of US$1 billion and a also demanding a comprehensive counter-insurgency plan that includes measures to tackle the socio-economic undercurrents of the Boko Haram crisis in the North-east in particular.

”As we have warned in our earlier statement, putting more money in the hands of an incompetent and massively corrupt Administration can only encourage more incompetence and corruption. Giving a blank cheque to this Administration, without asking it to account for the past budgetary allocations for the security and defence, will not help the nation’s fight against terror,” Mr. Mohammed said.

Jonathan keeps promise made to Malala; meets 51 escapee Chibok girls

President Goodluck Jonathan only agreed to meet parents of the missing Chibok schoolgirls  after meeting Pakistani Malala

President Goodluck Jonathan is meeting with 51 Chibok schoolgirls who escaped from their abductors days after the extremist Boko Haram sect stole them from their school dormitory and herded them into its Sambisa forest hideout.

Also at the closed-door meeting holding at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, are parents of the girls, service chiefs, President of the Senate, David Mark, Governors Kashim Shettima of Borno and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi as well as members of the Federal Executive Council.

The meeting, coming about 100 days after the girls and their over 200 colleagues were abducted, is in fulfilment of a promise President Jonathan made to Pakistani teenage  girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai, during her advocacy visit to Nigeria last week.

Malala had extracted a promise from Mr. Jonathan to meet and support the girls who escaped from their captors and intensify efforts at rescuing the ones still being held.

The parents of the abducted girls had pulled out of a hurriedly convened meeting with the president last week, saying any such meeting needed to be properly planned to accommodate all stakeholders.

Details later…

UPDATE: Two dead, one rescued alive in Nigeria Air Force helicopter crash

Nigeria Ojukwu Biafran MI5

The Mi-35 Helicopter, said to be on a training mission, crashed Monday afternoon at a location South of Bama, according to Mr. Olukolade.

Two of the three crew members aboard the Nigerian Air Force helicopter that crashed in Bama on Monday have been confirmed dead, the Defence Headquarters has said.

In a statement Monday night, the spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, said three crew members were aboard the aircraft when it crashed.

He said while one, a pilot, was rescued alive, another pilot as well as a technician died in the accident.
Mr. Olukolade did not say whether there were other passengers aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash.
He only said rescue operation was ongoing.

The Mi-35 helicopter, said to be on a training mission, crashed Monday afternoon at a location South of Bama in the North-east state of Borno, according to Mr. Olukolade.

Mr. Olukolade’s initial statement did not say whether anyone was killed or injured in the crash.

Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, said investigation has commenced to unravel the circumstances leading to the accident.

He however said the accident was not a result “of any enemy action”, saying it was due to a technical fault.

Bama is one of the locations in Borno state where the extremist Boko Haram sect has intensified its terrorist activities.

The Nigerian military has continued to launch ground and aerial assaults on the area to crush the terrorists.
The Boko Haram sect has killed more than 12,000 people since it began its insurgency about five years ago.

Nigerian government warns against registration, deportation of citizens from any part of country

President Goodluck Jonathan visiting scene of Nyanya bomb attack

Mr. Ekpenyong likened the fight against terrorism in the country to a football match, where only goals are recognized and not the attempted goals.

The Federal Government on Monday warned security agencies and other groups against registering or deporting Nigerians from wherever they live in the country.

The administration gave the warning after the meeting of the Security Council at the Presidential Villa.

President Goodluck Jonathan chaired the meeting, which was attended by service chiefs, the Inspector General of
Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and the Director General of the State Security Service, Ita Ekpeyong.

A group, the Goodluck Jonathan, had last week asked non-Northerners residing in that part of the country to relocate to their respective states within the next two weeks.

The group said in a statement signed by its national president, Aliyu Usman, and Secretary, Alfred Solomon, after a visit to the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sunusi II, that the decision was informed by the need to accommodate northerners who would return home as a result of the unwarranted attacks against them in other parts of the country.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the Director-General of the State Security Service, SSS, Ita Ekpeyong, said the Council’s resolution was to guard against Nigerians discriminating against other Nigerians, which could be worse than the current Boko Haram scourge.

He explained that if it was allowed to go on, it could lead to the disintegration of the country.

Mr. Ekpenyong stated that to underscore the seriousness of the issue, the Council warned that any member of the security agencies found involved in registering or deporting any Nigerian would be strictly penalised.

He said the directive to the security agencies was in line with the ongoing fight against Boko Haram.

“The fight against Boko Haram, the efforts made by government to rescue the Chibok girls and the issue of deportation, registration of Nigerians in states of the federation, we regard this as even more potent than Boko Haram,” Mr. Ekpenyong stated.

“Council discussed in detail the issue of registration of Nigerians in any part of the country, being subjected to registration, being subjected to deportation, being taken away from one part of the country to the other. Council discussed the reaction by some groups in Kano State and other parts of the country.

“Council observe that this threat was more potent than Boko Haram and could disintegrate the country. And we take this very seriously, for people to deport people, for people to ‎take people from one place to the other, for registration of indigenes no matter where they are. No matter where they are they are free to settle anywhere they like.

Council resolved that the issue of registration of Nigerians anywhere in the country and deportation should stop forthwith.”

The SSS boss said as a way of re-emphasising the importance attached to the matter, Mr. Jonathan asked him and Mr.
Abubakar to address the press, and insisted that registration of Nigerians must be stopped.

He continued, “Security operatives ‎should not be involved in anybody trying to register people and anybody trying to deport people. Security operatives must henceforth not be involved. Any policeman or SSS found to be involved in it will be severely dealt with.

“Also Youth groups trying to foment trouble because of this issue are hereby warned to desist from it because government is taking serious notice of it. Government is doing everything possible to stem this from getting out of control. As a matter of fact to show the urgency, the Council of State meeting will be held anytime next week to discuss these issues.

Mr. Ekpenyong likened the fight against terrorism in the country to a football match, where only goals are recognized and not the attempted goals.

He restated that government was aware of where the girls were being kept, but that it was being cautious in other to avoid human casualties.

“We kept saying that the fight against Boko Haram is like the footballer. You know when the Germans played Argentina, it was only that one goal they scored that everyone is remembering, the other goals that were stopped nobody will remember,” Mr. Ekpenyong said.

“There are several things government is doing, there are several attacks government has stopped but nobody will remember those ones because we don’t tell you but several things are going on.

“The issue of Chibok girls, government is making efforts. We know where they are, but we don’t want to endanger their lives. That is the truth. We want to take it ‎gradually and release them at the appropriate time. We know where they are you can go to bed with that.”

Boko Haram hoists flag, takes over Damboa, as Askira villagers flee homes

Soldiers are said to have left Damboa after they were attacked and their base sacked

‎The Boko Haram sect had in an early morning attack on Friday killed over 45 persons while also burning homes, shops, offices and vehicles

================

The extremist Boko Haram sect on Saturday mounted its flags in Damboa town of Borno state, declaring the area its exclusive territory, security sources and witnesses have said.

Damboa local government shares a boundary with the dreaded Sambisa forest the terrorists have converted to ‎a formidable hideout.

The Boko Haram gunmen had in the early hours of Friday attacked Damboa, 85 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, killing locals and setting homes on fire.

Over 45 persons were killed while homes, shops, offices and vehicles were torched.

The gunmen later that Friday returned to launch yet another onslaught on the town at  the time residents were busy picking corpses of those killed in the morning and preparing them for burial.

Witnesses said during the second attack, the gunmen did not even spare women and children as they dislodged the entire town and hoisted their flags there.

The death toll is feared to have increased although officials say they are yet to ascertain the casualty figures.

A top security official in Maiduguri confirmed the Damboa attack and said flags suspected to be those of the Boko Haram sect had been hoisted there.

Soldiers are yet return to Damboa after they were sacked in an attack on the military base there about two weeks ago.

After the soldiers fled, the terrorists took over the highway leading to the town, residents say.

“There is no single person in Damboa as we are speaking now except the insurgents,” a member of the civilian vigilante group said.

The hoisting of flags in Damboa by the terrorists occured as information filtered in that residents of Dile, Huyum,  Lassa, Murtavu, Rimirgo and some  other remote villages in Askira Uba local government area are fleeing their homes and moving into Uba town in droves.

Security officials told PREMIUM TIMES the residents decided to flee following a threat letter sent to them by the Boko Haram sect that they would soon be attacked.

A member of the Vigilante Group, Civilian JTF, Abbas Gave, said, “The people are all  fleeing in response to a letter purportedly sent to those villages that they would also be attacked. So residents of about nine major villages are now on the run.”

 

Group demands full disclosure of $1 billion Boko Haram loan

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Group says with proper resource management, government can afford the money itself.

The Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, on Thursday demanded from the Nigerian Government full disclosure of the terms and conditions for which the presidency was seeking to borrow $1billion (about N168 billion) to fight Boko Haram.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday wrote to the Senate President, David Mark, seeking approval of the Senate to take the external loan sources to upgrade security equipment and boost security forces capacity to fight insurgency in the Nigeria.

The loan, he said, would also be used for the training and provision of logistics for the military and other security services, to enable them be more forceful in their effort to confront the serious threats of insurgency.

The letter was, however, silent on the specific source of the loan, conditions for the loan, terms of repayment, and, particularly, the interest rate attached to the loan.

The request came amid criticisms about the management of Nigeria’s defence budget, which gulped more than N1 trillion, about 20 per cent of the entire 2014 budget.

Some concerned Nigerians say despite the huge expenditure, the military remained ill-equipped to tackle the scourge of insurgency, which has claimed several thousands of lives since it began.

CSJ in criticising government’s decision to take the loan, said apart from the cost benefit analysis of the loan detailing the economic and social benefits, the specific source of the loan and the interest rate attached to the loan must be disclosed.

The CSJ in a statement by its lead director, Eze Onyekpere, said it was not clear whether the loan would be concessional in line with the requirements under the Fiscal Responsibility Act, FRA, that the loan must not attract more than 3 per cent interest rate per annum.

It said the FRA authorised borrowing only for capital expenditure and human development provided such borrowing was on concessional terms with low interest rate and with a reasonably long amortisation period.

While increasing the tempo of activities against the terrorist groups was desirable, he said, it defied common sense, law and reason for the National Assembly to approve the request without following the procedure laid down in the FRA and starting the process to make the fiscal system more accountable.

Mr. Onyekpere said it was not clear whether the President would send in a Supplementary Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly for approval, since the loan request was not one of the funding sources of the 2014 Appropriation Act.

Rather than source for loan to fight Boko Haram, Mr. Onyekpere said, government should have focused its attention to curb wastefulness by blocking the leakages in the country’s fiscal system, particularly in the petroleum industry.

“Nigeria cannot be looking for resources to fight the insurgency, while refusing to block the leakages in its fiscal system,” he stated.

He drew attention to the waste emanating from the loss of over 350,000 barrels of crude oil every day to sabotage and theft in the Niger Delta region, which he said government had left unattended.

According to Mr. Onyekpere, with 350,000 barrels of crude oil a day at an average price of $100 dollars per barrel, the government would have realised a minimum of $35 million a day, about $1.085 billion in a 31-day month, which is more than the $1billion requested.

He also indicted the Federal Government for refusing to investigate and call to account persons who mismanaged various security contracts in the country, including the Abuja close circuit television, CCTV, contract on which about $470 million was spent.

“Pray, how can the FGN be asking for approval to borrow when it has failed to properly husband the resources entrusted to it? Where is the guarantee that if the loan is approved that the resources will not be mismanaged?” Mr. Onyekpere asked.

He called for the recovery and return to the treasury of the money paid for the Abuja CCTV contract, pointing out that the recovery was based on the consideration for which the money was paid.

Calling for the audit of defence spending since the return to civil rule in 1999, he decried a situation where Nigeria, blessed with abundant resources, frittered it away and then proceeds to borrow.

Download: Nigerian government’s contract with LEVICK on missing Chibok Schoolgirls

Mothers of the missing Chibok school girls are still grieving

Some weeks ago, the Nigerian government hired a Washington-based Public Relation firms, LEVICK Communications Trust, to execute three key image laundering activities.

Primarily, LEVICK would provide the Goodluck Jonathan led administration with counsel on how to change local and international media narrative about Nigerian government’s failure to find and rescue the missing Chibok Schoolgirls, kidnapped by Boko Haram from their hostels in Government Secondary School, Chibok, in April.

LEVICK is also expected to help attract global support for the Nigerian government’s war on Boko Haram while branding it as part of a global war on terror.

The Nigerian government pays LEVICK N16.2 million monthly for the length of the the contract, originally conceived for one year. This is in addition to other fees charged at cost, without an upper limit.

The contract was signed by President Jonathan’s former spokesperson, Ima Niboro, on behalf of Nigeria. Mr. Niboro is the current director general of the News Agency of Nigeria.

PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the contract between LEVICK and the Nigerian government, filed with America’s National Security Division and Foreign Agents Registration Unit.

Download the contract here.

Document courtesy ThinkProgress.org

Several feared killed as Boko Haram attacks Damboa, Borno

Borno has been under intense Boko Haram attacks

Damboa has been reportedly deserted by soldiers since the Boko Haram attack on security formations there about two weeks ago.

Several people are feared killed as gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram attacked Damboa in Borno State on Friday morning.

Damboa has been reportedly deserted by soldiers since the Boko Haram attack on security formations there about two weeks ago.

According to a vigilante official in Maiduguri, who said he spoke with some of his men in the Damboa village, the gunmen stormed the village at about 5 a.m.

Abbas Gava said only a handful of youth vigilante group, known as Civilian-JTF, and some few vigilante officials were available in Damboa to protect the people.

Attempts by soldiers to return to Damboa military base since two weeks ago are said to have failed as the Boko Haram gunmen took over the highway and continued to engage soldiers in ambush attacks that have forced them to return to Maiduguri on two occasions.

“Since the attack, Damboa has no police or soldiers,” Mr. Gava said. “It is only the vigilantes that are there and we know their limitations.”

He said the “casualty could be very high because my contacts in Damboa said they are still picking and piling the corpses. But many houses, nearly half of what remains of the several attacked town has been burnt”.

A senior security personnel, who does not want to be named confirmed the attack to PREMIUM TIMES but said “no details on extent of damage or casualty yet”.

The attacks on Borno communities have continued despite a state of emergency in the state and the expenditure of trillions of naira on defence.

Boko Haram: Why we want to borrow $1 billion – Nigerian Government

President-Goodluck-Jonathan-360x225

Government says war on terror has not depleted resources.

The Federal Government on Thursday defended its decision to borrow $1 billion (N160 billion) to enhance security forces in the battle against the insurgent Boko Haram group.

The proposed loan was revealed on Wednesday when the Senate President, David Mark, read a letter by President Goodluck Jonathan seeking permission from the Senate to borrow the money.

“You are no doubt cognisant of the on-going and serious security challenges which the nation is facing, as typified by the Boko Haram terrorist threat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times,” Mr. Jonathan wrote in the letter.

“I would like to bring to your attention, the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of our Armed Forces and Security services to enable them more forcefully confront this serious threat.

“For this reason, I seek the concurrence o the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1 billion dollars including government to government arrangements for this upgrade,” he added.

There have been nationwide criticisms since the proposal was made public as Nigerians questioned the trillions of naira already budgeted and spent on the military to defeat Boko Haram in the past few years.

But on Thursday, the federal government defended its decision take the loan, saying it would not only be used to prosecute the war against insurgency but to adequately equip the armed forces.

The Coordinator, National Information Centre, Mike Omeri, stated the government’s stance while interacting with journalists at the Centre on Thursday.

Mr. Omeri, who is also the Director General of the National Orientation Agency, also said that the war had not depleted Nigeria’s resources.

“It is not out of place for a country to re-enforce its military capability and it (loan) should not be mistaken that the resources of Nigeria has finished. The loan being sought is not just to prosecute Boko Haram war, it is to re-enforce the armed forces,” he said.

The military and the federal government has been criticised locally and internationally for its handling of the Boko Haram crisis.

Over 13,000 people have been killed since the insurgency began in 2009 with the Human Rights Watch documenting about 2,500 deaths in 2014.

Mr. Omeri also shed more light on efforts to apprehend Abubakar Tsiga, the major suspected mastermind of the April 14 Nyanya bomb explosion that killed over 75 people.

One of the alleged mastermind, Aminu Ogwuche, was on Wednesday repatriated to Nigeria from Sudan where he allegedly fled after the explosion.

Mr. Omeri said Mr. Tsiga remained wanted, adding that security forces were trailing him.

“At the appropriate time, we will let you know because sometime there is information that you give out that will facilitate the disappearance of suspect,” he added.

(NAN)

Jonathan to meet parents of kidnapped Chibok girls Tuesday

Women protest Chibok

Some parents of the abducted girls came to Abuja to see Malala, the education advocate.

After over three months of refusing to visit the parents of the over 250 girls abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect from Chibok in Borno State, the president will on July 22 host the girls’ parents.

This was made known by the spokesperson of the Kibaku Chibok Area Development Association, Dauda Iliya, on Wednesday at the Shehu Yar’Adua centre in Abuja.

Mr. Iliya said that the association got a letter of invitation from the presidency on Wednesday morning.

The president’s decision to host the parents is coming only three days after Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage activist, convinced him to see the parents of girls.

“We just got the letter at around 11 a.m. this morning from the (Presidential) Villa. it came as a unilateral form of communication,” Mr. Iliya said.

He said the Kibak Chibok Area Development Association was authorised to speak on behalf of the 12 fathers and five Chibok girls who escaped from Boko Haram captivity and were hosted by Malala during her visit to Nigeria.

Erroneous impression

Mr. Iliya also explained the alleged refusal of parents of the abducted girls to visit the president.

He said the parents and the escapees did not come to Abuja on the instance of the Nigerian government but for a meeting with Malala.

The meeting with Malala, Mr. Iliya said, was facilitated by the Abuja Chibok community and the citizens’ platform of #BringBackOurGirls.

Mr. Iliya stated that during the course of interactions with Malala, neither the parents nor the girls who escaped asked for a meeting with the president or any government functionary. They rather asked why the president refused to visit them in Chibok since the abduction.

“The parents were not allowed to make any decision. It was when they were on the stage that the information came that the president will be meeting with you, not that the president is asking to meet you”, he explained.

President Jonathan has been criticised for his handling of the Chibok kidnap and his refusal to visit the community and the parents of the victims wince the April 14 incident.

Over 200 of the girls are still with Boko Haram.

Boko Haram ‘civil war’ taking too long, T.Y. Danjuma tells Jonathan

Theophilus Danjuma

The Committee on Victim Support Fund was inaugurated on Wednesday.

The Chairman of the newly inaugurated Committee on Victim Support Fund, Theophilus Danjuma, has asked the government to as a matter of urgency act fast and ensure that the Boko Haram is defeated.

He insisted that the war has taken too long and should be termed a ‘civil war’ and not an insurgency.

Mr. Danjuma spoke on behalf of the committee members in response to President Goodluck Jonathan’s speech during their inauguration in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the insurgents seem to have an upper hand as they pick and choose where to strike and even hold positions that lead to the displacement of Nigerian forces.

“One thing we will not do is to go to Sambisa forest. The commander in chief will lead and we will follow the commander in chief,” the retired general and ex-defence chief said.

“But seriously this war must be brought to an end. We must win this war immediately; it is taking too long.
“I called it civil war when it began, people say it is insurgency.

“The insurgents appear to be having a upper hand at this very moment. They pick and choose where to strike they are even holding positions and displacing us. We must win this war Mr. President, we must do so immediately,” he said.

Mr. Danjuma pledged that his committee would raise the funds and disburse it appropriately. He promised to work diligently and transparently in line with the assignment.

Earlier, Mr. Jonathan said the gathering was to kick-start the process of providing succour for people who have been directly affected one way or the other by acts of terrorism in the country.

“The Victim Support Fund Committee is part of our on-going efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the menace. This Government is determined to resolve this crisis,” he said.

Mr. Jonathan said he was not happy inaugurating such a committee for Nigeria.

“As a developing nation with lofty dreams, I would rather be here inaugurating a committee on development initiatives,” he said. “But this is the unfortunate situation where we have found ourselves because of the lawless acts of a few misguided individuals who are shedding the blood of innocent people in our Nation.

“It is very necessary for us to refresh our memory before we proceed. Nigeria has not always been like this.

“In the past, it is true, we had communal and sectarian clashes. There is no human society that has been insulated from conflicts. But as a people created by God, we have managed to live within the realities of our challenges and have worked hard to strengthen the bond of our togetherness,” he added.

Mr. Jonathan pledged to bring the terrorists and their financiers to book.

“The reality today is that we are confronted with individuals whose minds have been so twisted and tutored to believe they are doing God a service.

“Let me reiterate clearly that evil will never prevail over good.
“For those who take pleasure in seeing innocent human beings in pains, to see limbs being shattered and blood flowing in all direction after terror attacks, we say, you shall have no hiding place,” the president said. “Nigerians will expose you. The people of conscience around the world have rejected you.”

The President urged all Nigerians to pause and spare a thought for the victims; and support them.

“This is not a task for the rich alone. Every widow’s mite will count, and will be appreciated. I urge Nigerians to donate generously even through your GSM phones,” he added.

In his vote of thanks as directed by the President, the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, assured that the war would be won and that the administration was ready to take some hard decisions.

Mr. Dasuki said there were very hard choices to be made and very soon too; to prevent the Boko Haram from claiming more territories.

Over 13,000 people have been killed since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009.

Explosions, shootings keep Maiduguri awake as military test-fires weapons

Nigerian soldiers on guard in Maiduguri

“No, it was nothing but test firing that was carried out last night.”‎

Many residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital were forced to keep vigil all Tuesday night as soldiers of the 7 Division, Nigeria Army test-fired new weapons at the outskirts of the troubled city.

Thunderous sounds from what seemed like explosives were accompanied by rapid shooting from machine guns from about 11:30 p.m., a situation that shook the sleep of the eyes of residents who thought it was Boko Haram terrorists attacking the city.

The explosions and shootings lasted for about an hour.

Scared residents spent the night making hushed calls to find out from which direction the shooting was coming, but no one could give definite answers.

Many of those who were forced to wake up could not go back to sleep until early morning Islamic prayer calls from various mosques. .

Some residents said they thought it was the Boko Haram that were finally making their entry into the city, after days of taking over many routes leading to Maiduguri.

On Tuesday, the insurgents reportedly attacked travelers at some spots not more that 40km from Maiduguri, along the Maiduguri-Biu road. They had on Monday bombed a major bridge on that road.

“We thought the Boko Haram gunmen were the ones exchanging fire with soldiers; we were so scared that we had to lay down on the floor all night”, said Abba Ibrahim, a civil servant who resides in the capital.

PREMIUM TIMES later gathered from top military officials who confirmed that it was not an attack but routine weapon test-fire that was being carried out by soldiers.

“No, it was nothing but test firing that was carried out last night”, the military official, who would not want to be quoted as it was not his job to speak to the media, told PREMIUM TIMES on phone.

The military recently announced that it had acquired more sophisticated weapons in its efforts to dislodge the insurgents.

While Maiduguri ‎has witnessed a few attacks this year by the Boko Haram, several other communities in Borno have witnessed series of attacks by the sect.

The Human Rights Watch said in a report that over 2,000 civilians were killed by the insurgents in attacks in the first six months of 2014 with most of such attacks occurring in Borno.

The attacks have continued despite a state of emergency imposed on the state since last year.