Three days after the extremist Boko Haram sect overran the commercial town of Mubi in Adamawa state, the Nigerian military says it has intensified deployment of troops and equipment around the area.
It also said it has revved up aerial bombardment with a view to restoring normalcy to communities sacked by the insurgents.
“Necessary deployment of troops and equipment is ongoing to reverse all recent violation and breach of security by terrorists and criminals operating in parts of the country,” the spokesperson for Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, said in a statement Saturday.
“The highly coordinated air bombardment is already yielding required results in the mission to repel the unwarranted attacks on citizens especially in Adamawa and Borno States as land forces are also conducting mopping up operations to apprehend retreating terrorists and facilitate restoration of normalcy in some of the affected communities.”
Mr. Olukolade, who promised to release more details as the operation progresses, said the military and security agencies “remain committed and optimistic for positive outcome of ongoing operations”.
The Nigerian government had on October 17 announced that it was suspending military operations against the extremist group after both sides agreed a ceasefire.
Part of the deal was to see the return of the more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from Chibok, Borno State, on April 14.
But Boko Haram soon launched fresh attacks on towns in Borno and Adamawa States, and the girls failed to return on expected dates.
On Wednesday the insurgents descended on Mubi, Adamawa’s second largest city, sacking residents, killing scores and planting its flag there.
There were also reports that Boko Haram insurgents overwhelmed security forces and overran Madagali down to Bazza, both in Adamawa State.
The situation in Mubi is so dire that the Benue State Government has sent vehicles to evacuate its students studying at the Adamawa State University in the town.
The university campus is said to have fallen to the insurgents after lecturers, students and security agencies fled.
In a state-wide broadcast in Yola on Saturday, the Adamawa state governor, Bala Ngilari, said a high-powered committee has been inaugurated to address the problems faced by people displaced from the town by the insurgents.
He said he had so far sent 77 vehicles in the past two days to evacuate affected persons to designated camps.
Mr. Ngilari’s announcement came a few hours after a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, issued a statement describing Boko Haram’s takeover of the town and hoisting of its flag there as “a tragic act and a worrisome affront to the corporate integrity of Nigeria.
Mr. Abubakar, who was abroad when the attack took place in his home State, told a group of journalists on arrival on Friday that: “with what I have gathered so far from online news reports and other sources from Mubi town, the situation is very unfortunate and undermining for our country”.
“If the reports are true that the Armed Forces had abandoned their assigned duty posts a few days before the overrun, it was an indication that the attack was not sudden after all. If the Soldiers also left behind their ammunition and armoured carriers at the mercy of predatory insurgents, it raises a question of complicity in the sordid episode,” he said.
He described as most unfortunate a situation were unsuspecting civilians, who relied on security agencies for their protection and were expecting an improvement in their security status as a result of the announced ceasefire, were suddenly left defenceless and at the mercy of the marauders.
Mr. Abubakar frowned at the suspected connivance that might have fuelled the sudden retreat of the military in the face of imminent invasion of a vital commercial town, less than three hours away from Yola the Adamawa State capital.
“No Commander-in-Chief or General that is worth his salt will surrender his territory with folded arms and running heels,” Mr. Abubakar said.
“On every occasion that leaders from the North-East raised an alarm about the dangerous trend, we have either been ignored or called names,” he said.
“If there’s any iota of truth in the suspicion of the people that they were deliberately abandoned, then it becomes a dangerous trend and a bad omen for Nigeria and all Nigerians,” he said.
The former vice president said he was heading to Yola to meet with those managing the displaced people and see what assistance he can render to reduce the sufferings of the people.
But in its statement Saturday, the Nigerian military said it remained “committed and optimistic for positive outcome of ongoing operations” aimed at “terminating the insecurity in parts of the country”.