The governor has set up a committee to investigate the crisis.
The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Tuesday said “over 100 people” were killed in Baga during a clash between officers of the Joint Task Force and insurgents over the weekend.
Mr. Shettima stated this in a statement by his spokesperson, Isa Gusau in Maiduguri.
“In the two-day clash; over 100 people were killed with the razing down of the main Baga market, 200 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the state capital,” the governor said.
Residents of the village said they buried 185 people after the battle, while the Red Cross has said 187 people were killed.
President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian military, however, claim the figures are exaggerated. The military said 25 insurgents and a soldier were killed, but kept mum on civilian casualty; while the president has ordered an investigation of the killings.
Governor orders for relief materials
The Borno governor also approved the deployment of relief materials comprising food, clothing, and beddings to the displaced victims of the Friday night gun battle.
The relief items, which would arrive the troubled town on Tuesday, according the governor’s spokesman, Isa Gusau, comprise food stuff, clothes and sleeping mats.
“The items are specifically meant for Baga residents, whose houses, livestock and other property were destroyed in the clash between the North-East Joint Border Security Task Force (JB-STF) and Boko Haram insurgents last week,” Mr. Gusau said.
In the emailed statement sent to journalists, Mr. Gusau revealed that “a panel was also raised yesterday (Monday) to ascertain the immediate and remote” causes of the Baga carnage that claimed many lives and
property in the border town with Chad.
He said the task of the committee was also to “investigate and submit a report on the cause of the crises, take records of all those killed or injured, take stock of all houses destroyed and recommend compensations.”
The statement said the governor has also directed the Ministry of Works and Transport to immediately mobilize to sites in Baga town; and commence the rebuilding of destroyed houses.
185 deaths not official
The governor, however disputed the figure of 185 mentioned by the residents saying “the total number of persons killed as well as houses destroyed has not been accurately ascertained by any competent authority as government awaits the report of its committee or any reliable source of information to ascertain accurate figures.”
“Casualties of the Baga carnage; were solely based on accounts by some residents in Baga, who spoke with the Governor during his visit, as the author(s) reported the news without any independent verification for accuracy and with no form of investigation whatsoever.
The spokesperson said the governor, however, believes that “regardless of the number of persons affected, the incident was gruesome and highly condemnable since the life of a single human being is as important as the lives of thousands of humans.”
He said Mr. Shettima “had on Saturday, visited the town for on the spot assessment during which he strongly condemned the incident while he met with Military authorities to get their side of the story before the committee he sets up completes its findings to determine the next line of action.”
Mr. Gusau added that the governor is taking other firm and appropriate measures that will ensure the security of lives and property in Borno State saying “Government is working round the clock to ensure an end to the security challenges in the State.”
The statement further reiterates the governor’s optimism that the ongoing efforts for peaceful resolution of the crisis through the amnesty programme being worked on by the federal government will help in solving the problem.
The governor called on the amnesty committee members to “be resilient as the task before them is such that will not entertain any failure as there is no alternative to peace for any society that desires progress.”
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