The Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Elkanemi, has urged the Chief of Army Staff, Farouq Yahaya, to pay more attention to certain locations that are still inaccessible in the state due to the activities of Boko Haram insurgents.
The traditional ruler made the call Friday evening when he hosted Mr Yahaya, a major general, who paid a courtesy visit to his palace in Maiduguri.
The traditional ruler said though considerable progress has been made in fighting the insurgency in the state, especially from 2015 to date, “there are some locations that remain flashpoints for insurgency activities.”
He said no local government is fully under the control of the insurgents as was the case pre-2015 when at least 17 council areas of Borno were effectively under the insurgents.
“We have suffered so much in the hands of these criminals, compared to the relative peace that we enjoy now,” said the monarch.
“There was a time when we had no GSM network, no airport, no accessible roads, except the Maiduguri-Kano road, and many of our people were killed, including our district heads. Some of the district heads you see here in the palace are either replacing their fathers or grandfathers that were targeted and killed by the insurgents
“It was a sad moment for us all because everyone was a target – be you Muslim or Christian; they just killed people even though none of the holy books, neither the Holy Quran nor the Bible allows the killing of innocent people.”
He said though a lot has been achieved in the war against insurgence, many works still need to be done.
“As I said before 2015, a total of 17 local governments of Borno were under Boko Haram; but now they are all under the control of the Nigerian military.”
He said fear was the main reason “that has so far prevented people from willingly returning to their liberated communities.
“We want the Chief of Army Staff to explore the possibility of helping the farmers return to their farms because in Borno most of the people are farmers or fishermen.”
The Shehu thereby listed some of the flashpoint locations and roads which he said need serious attention of the military.
“Places like Baga, Krenoa, Marte Gamboru-Ngala, that are bordering the shores of Lake Chad, are locations where the majority of our people either farm or fish. We seriously need the help of the military to make those locations safer.
“Roads like Maiduguri to Damboa are only about 85km, and another centre for agriculture has been closed for many years because it is too dangerous for us. And due to the closure of that route, people travelling to Yola, for example, have to take a longer route, travelling hundreds of kilometres before getting to their destination.
“Roads like Gubio to Damasak are only 86km; though the road is pliable for now, it becomes dangerous occasionally too, especially when the insurgents resurface occasionally.
“The highway from Magumeri to Damasak is another big problem because these criminals used to come out to harass travellers.
“The Maiduguri to Monguno road, as well as places like Brimari, Gasara also need the attention of the COAS to help us see to making it safer. We also want the Gubio-Damasak road which is still unsafe just like Damboa-Biu, Dikwa-Ngala is also not safe. Places like Malumfatori and Gudumbali, the two local governments, as I have said earlier, are still no-go areas because of fear,” the monarch said.
Earlier, the COAS, in his homage speech, said he was in the palace to pay his respect as he arrived at Borno State on his first official working visit since he became the army chief.
The COAS expressed appreciation to the monarch for the leadership he has been providing in the region, especially around Lake Chad.
“Your Royal Highness, we want to acknowledge that your efforts have yielded so many positive results especially in the area of civil-military relations. We will continue to solicit your blessings, prayers and guidance in the job we are doing.”
The army chief said with the support of the Shehu, he sees a quick end to the decade-long insurgency.