Contrary to official claims that the Boko Haram terrorists have been restricted to the North-east, members of the group are successfully carrying out attacks in Nasarawa State, North-central Nigeria, the state governor, Abdulahi Sule, has said.
Mr Sule said this on Friday while addressing journalists at the State House, Abuja, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said he has briefed the president on the attacks.
He said the terrorists had regrouped at the Nasarawa/Benue border from where they launched attacks on residents, after they were initially displaced by soldiers from the Toto part of the state.
He said some of the Boko Haram members in his state were those dislodged by security operatives from neighbouring Niger State.
The governor’s revelation contradicts the federal government’s claim a few years back that the Boko Haram insurgents only operate in the North Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
It also contradicts several claims by the military and the federal government that the insurgents have been defeated.
On how he was sure the attackers were members of Boko Haram, Mr Sule said some of those captured in Niger said they are members of the terror group whose activities have caused tens of thousands of deaths across Nigeria.
“I have come to see the leader of our party, the leader of the nation, and our father, Mr President, to brief him about some of the activities happening in my state, especially first in the area of security that we continue to have challenges with a team of Boko Haram who had settled at the border with the FCT,” the governor said.
“And we thank the security forces that they have been able to dislodge them. But now, they have gone back and gathered at our border with Benue. And they are causing a lot of havoc.
“Therefore, it (this meeting) was an opportunity as Mr President wanted to know and I briefed him. I strongly believe that just like the decision was taken last time to take care of this issue, another decision will be taken.”
When asked how he was able to confirm if it was Boko Haram and not bandits that have been operating in the state, the governor said ”members of their families of Boko Haram members recently dislodged by the Army confirmed to the state”.
He also said unlike bandits, ”the Boko Haram are not concerned about mineral resources”, which he said is in abundance in the state.
“First and foremost, it was easy for us to know who these people are. If you remember, they used to gather at a place called Utu in Toto Local Government Area (LGA),” Mr Sule said.
“When I came here the last time, I appealed to Mr President. Then, the Department of State Services (SSS), the Police, the Air Force, and the Army had a joint operation. And they were able to dislodge them.
“When they dislodged them, a lot of them were killed. Some of them ran away and left members of their families. We ‘took hostage’ about 900 members of their families in Lafia, including children and wives.
“The Special Forces which we have in Doma, Nasarawa State, took the hostages. A lot of interrogations were done and most of them confirmed that they were indeed Boko Haram. In fact, they gave us the name of the person who used to be like the second-in-command to Shekau.”
The governor also said, “some of them said they were remnants of the Darussalam group that were dislodged from Niger. They came, merged, and became Boko Haram. That is how we got our confirmation that they were indeed Boko Haram. They said it themselves.”
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