The Nigerian military and a mobile police unit have started advancing to the commercial border town of Mubi, Adamawa state.
The town along with some other communities in Adamawa and Borno states were taken over by Boko Haram in the last few weeks.
Sources say that the police unit, which appeared battle ready, was headed to the troubled area not only to flush out the terrorists but also to liberate Vintim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, one of the communities currently under the control of Boko Haram.
One of the fleeing residents, Bitrus Gajere, said the mobile police special anti-terrorist unit had already reached Marraba Mubi Junction, about 18 kilometres from Mubi town.
Other reports say the Nigerian military backing the police unit and led by a colonel was at Pella Junction, 80 kilometres from Mubi.
Mr. Gajere expressed his happiness at the development.
“It may lead to the end of the trauma occasioned by the dismal performance of Nigerian troops who always flee whenever insurgents strike, leading to the fall of many towns and villages,” he said.
Two residents of Marraba Mubi, Yohanna Gambo and Sanda Zira, told reporters in Yola that they saw a detachment of mobile police officers keeping vigil at the junction leading to Mubi and Michika Local Governments.
“In fact, we are shocked and surprised to see a handful of mobile police officer because since the fall of Mubi, we have not seen a security man,” Mr. Gambo said.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the spokesperson of the Adamawa Police Command, Othman Abubakar, a deputy superintendent of police, were unsuccessful as calls to his mobile phone were diverted.
Contrary to the claim by the Nigerian military that it was on top of the situation in Mubi, reports say Boko Haram is consolidating its position in the captured town and indeed renamed it “Madinatul Islam” meaning the city of Islam.
Trapped residents said the insurgents were having a field day; holding open court and preaching sessions as they threaten to marry off spinsters to bachelors and open shops that were closed by their owners.
Musa Aliyu, one of the trapped residents, said: “They asked us to go about our normal business without fear of being killed. They warned shop owners to come back and open their shops; if not, the shops would be opened by force. The insurgents are now holding public courts and preaching at the emir’s palace and threatened to marry off girls in for a dowry of N2,000 to N5,000. For now there is calm in the town, though we could hear gunshots at the outskirts.”