The convoy of the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, was on Tuesday ambushed by Boko Haram gunmen while on his way to campaign in a remote border village, eyewitnesses said.
The attack occurred along the Maiduguri-Gambu road which leads to Chad Republic.
The governor’s spokesman, Isa Gusau, confirmed the incident but did not provided details at the time of this report.
At least five persons including a soldier were reportedly killed in the attack.
The governor, who is contesting for a senatorial seat in Saturday’s election, is also the campaign director general of his party’s governorship candidate, Babagana Umara.
According to sources close to the campaign council, the governor’s convoy set out for Gamboru-Ngala late Tuesday evening with the plan to pass the night in the border town that was once under the control of Boko Haram.
The convoy, however, came under attack by the Boko Haram shortly after it got to a village called Logomani, about 20km from Dikwa town.
How Attack Happened
According to some of the civillian-JTF operàtives, who often provide the largest number of security personnel on such trips, the gunmen that attacked were on two gun trucks.
One civillian-JTF source said they thought the gunmen who packed by the road side were soldiers providing security for the governor’s movement.
“They were all dressed as though they were soldiers and they packed their cars by the road side,” said the civillian-JTF source who asked not to be named.
The witnesses said the Boko Haram gunmen watched until more than half of the vehicles in the lengthy convoy, including that of the governor, had passed by before they drove out and joined the convoy as well.
“We though they were soldiers and we even waved at them and one of them on the gun trucks waved back at us,” said the source.
“The trucks they were driving bore the colour of military vehicles and they were putting on military fatigue.”
One of the civillian-JTF operàtives added that after the the Boko Haram attackers joined the convoy, they continued to drive alongside other vehicles for about 5km before they suddenly increased speed ahead of the vehicles behind them.
“We noticed they increased speed and suddenly, the two vehicles spread to the sides of the road and began to open fire on oncoming vehicles.”
The source said the most affected in the attacked convoy were members of the civillian-JTF who were coming from behind.
“There was thick dust because the road was untarred. Everyone was running for dear life, including we the civillian-JTF.”
The source said the only soldier that was killed was the one that stood his ground and opened fire on the Boko Haram attackers to allow people escape into the bush.
“Three people including the soldier were killed and many persons were also missing.
“About 10 vehicles including patrol trucks of the civillian-JTF were also taken away by the ambushing gunmen.
“Two other corpse were found today (Wednesday) while many of those that went missing, including a permanent secretary, later showed up after wandering in the desert.”
Other members of the Borno APC who arrived Maiduguri late Wednesday evening said the campaign team proceeded to Gamboru-Ngala where they passed the night and continued with the campaign throughout Wednesday.
SOLDIERS WARNING IGNORED
Some of the civillian-JTF members who arrived Maiduguri Wednesday evening also informed PREMIUM TIMES that the soldiers in Dikwa town had warned the governor and his convoy against advancing to Gamboru-Ngala at that late hour.
Dikwa is 73km from Maiduguri and is located along the way to Gamboru-Ngala.
“The soldiers initially said they won’t open the way for us to advance because it was 6 p.m. and Boko Haram usually carry out attacks at that time along that axis.
“But the campaign officials insisted that they should be allowed to proceed. A hot argument ensued until the governor later intervened and said the road be opened.
“The soldiers grudgingly opened the barricade leading to Gamboru-Ngala but they did not follow us.”
The attack occurred at Logomani, a deadly hideout of Boko Haram about 22km from Dikwa town.
Governor Shettima’s convoy later arrived Maiduguri at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday after attending the campaign in Mafa and Dikwa.
The governor who was received by sympathisers did not make any comment on the incident. The party chairman, Ali Dalori, addressed supporters for their loyalty even as he told them not to relent in the campaign until victory is achieved for the party.
The governor’s spokesman, Mr Gusau, informed our reporter via a text message that he awaits some clarifications before issuing a statement.