Despite the ceasefire the Nigerian government announced it reached with the extremist Boko Haram sect, deadly attacks on remote communities by the group have continued in Borno State.
The Federal Government announced on Friday that it had reached a temporary ceasefire with the group. The ceasefire was expected to be characterised by a cessation of hostilities and the release of the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram group in Borno.
“Already, the terrorists have announced a ceasefire in furtherance of their desire for peace. In this regard, the government of Nigeria has, in similar vein, declared ceasefire,’’ Mike Omeri, the Coordinator of the National Information Centre, said while confirming the ceasefire.
A few hours before Mr. Omeri made his confirmation, which followed earlier statements by the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, Boko Haram insurgents attacked Azur village near Shaffa town in Hawul Local Government Area of Borno.
At least eight people were reported killed while several others fled their homes during the attack that occurred at about 10:00 a.m. on Friday.
When local vigilante, called Civilian JTF, went to the village to help evacuate and bury the corpses, they were also attacked by the insurgents on Saturday, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The attacks in Azur have already been brought to the attention of security agencies in Borno, with a senior security official saying although they were aware of the attacks, the actual casualty could not be ascertained.
The Civilian JTF is also yet to confirm the number of its members affected in the Saturday attack.
Also on Friday, gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram group hoisted the sect’s flag in Abadam, a border community between Borno State and Niger Republic.
The insurgents had killed about 40 residents in their attack on the community. The attack, which started on Thursday, also forced hundreds of residents to flee to neighbouring Niger.
A resident of Abadam, Aminu Abdullahi, who spoke to journalists on telephone described the situation in the community as dire.
“Some dozens of members of the Boko Haram have taken over Abadam,” Mr. Abdullahi said. “They have been in Abadam since Thursday but finally hoist their flags on Friday after killing many prominent people and forcing others to cross over to Niger.”
“At least 30 people have been killed in Abadam alone but I don’t know the actual number of people killed in nearby localities. A traditional ruler, Ba Mallam Wasak, 75, an uncle of the immediate past Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly, Goni Ali Modu, was among those killed.
“As I am talking to you, both my father and mother are still trapped in Abadam and only God will save them. Many people, especially the old, are still in Abadam because they could not flee,” he added.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the federal government’s announcement of the ceasefire was greeted with scepticism by Borno residents.
The proprietor of Future Prowess Islamic School in Maiduguri, Zannah Mustapha, had in his reaction said “something is logically wrong with the whole ceasefire issue”.
“This is not the first time that we are hearing declarations of ceasefire or its proposal by the Boko Haram,” Mr. Mustapha, whose school offers free education to children orphaned by the insurgency, said.
“From the tone of the declaration made by the Federal Government as well as the manner with which the so-called secretary of the group spoke on radio, one tends to have some doubts.
“There is doubt because there has never been a time in the life of the Boko Haram leaders where we hear them lamenting loss of members or admitting the magnitude of pains they have suffered. If Shekau is to speak, his message is all about the doctrines of his group and what they stand for. He would emphasise that dying in the course of what they are doing is a thing of pride to them.”
Also, the Coordinator of Peace Ambassadors in Borno State, Ahmed Shehu, said his concern about the ceasefire was with the timing of the announcement.
“The timing for the ceasefire is suspicious… For me, there is more to it than meets the eye. It’s suspicious, and I don’t want to sound as a pessimist; (but) it is ill-timed and it’s not feasible”.