The governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, has who expressed frustration at the audacity of the Boko Haram insurgents to continue launching attacks even with the heavy presence of troops of the Nigerian Army in the northeast.
The governor who stated this while addressing journalists in Monguno, Borno State yesterday against the backdrop of the attack on his convoy on Wednesday, July 29 by gunmen b believed to have been Boko Haram terrorists said the insurgents could not have carried out the onslaught.
Zulum blamed military saboteurs for the offensive saying he did not believe there were no Boko Haram fighters in Baga where the incident occurred in view of the large number of troops in the town.
He said should the situation continue, the government would have no option but to mobilise our hunters, civilian joint task force and vigilantes to recapture Baga for “we cannot continue like this.”
“As far as I am concerned what happened in Baga was complete sabotage by the military. There is no Boko Haram in Baga.
“I wonder because we have over 1,181 soldiers in Baga, 72 officers, 107 soldiers; 400 soldiers in Mile 4 and 1,900 soldiers in Monguno. I see no reason why only five Boko Haram will stop them from occupying Baga town.
“The troops have been in Mile 4 for over one year; there is complete sabotage; the problem is not with President Buhari or General Buhari but the command and control structure. There is a need to look into the command structure.”
On why he visited the area, he said: “We have over 80,000 IDPs in Monguno; they cannot continue to depend on NGOs and others for food. We have created opportunities for them to go back to their communities and continue with their business and farming activities.
“After Sallah, we are going to allow people to go back to Kukawa and we will give time to the military.
“If they will not clear Baga, we will mobilise our hunters, CJTF and vigilantes to recapture Baga. We cannot continue like this. People have taken their destiny in their hands.”
Zulum’s special adviser on media, Mr. Isa Gusau, narrated how the governor and his entourage escaped the attack, saying they crawled for some metres to escape, adding that some of them sustained injuries.
Gusau, in an interview on BBC Hausa Service explained that the governor had embarked on a humanitarian trip to the Baga area of the state based on information provided by soldiers that they had liberated the town from Boko Haram insurgents.
The special adviser said he was not in the governor’s convoy when it was attacked, adding that before Zulum embarked on the trip, the soldiers had assured the governor that the town was no longer controlled by the insurgents.
“I was not there physically. The governor was heading to Baga from Monguno because the soldiers told him they had liberated Baga from the control of Boko Haram.
“But along the way, the insurgents opened fire on the governor’s convoy and everyone scampered for their lives,” he added.
Gusau explained that some of those in the convoy including policemen and other government officials sustained injuries.
“They crawled for a distance on their knees. They sustained injuries. The Boko Haram insurgents were shooting,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, in a statement issued yesterday by its spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said it was probing the accident, adding that the governor’s convoy came under fire from terrorists while visiting Baga town.
It said Zulum had earlier visited the Commander of the 19 Brigade at the Nigerian Army Super Camp Baga, where he was fully briefed about the prevailing security situation in the state.
“The unfortunate incident occurred shortly after the governor and his entourage departed the Super Camp to visit other parts of Baga town. The incident forced the governor to abort his planned movement to Baga,” it added.
Musa said although details of the incident were sketchy and under investigation, efforts were ongoing to comb the area where the incident occurred with a view to tracking and dealing decisively with the attackers.
“An investigation is also in progress to identify the circumstances that led to the attack.
“Regrettably, this is an isolated and most unfortunate incident that occurred in a territory where normalcy has since been restored with socio-economic activities picking up.
“The Nigerian Army wants to reassure the general public that this will be interrogated with a view to forestalling future re-occurrence,” he added.
He said the Nigerian Army would continue to discharge its responsibilities professionally with respect for the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians and in compliance with the extant rules of engagement.
“The good people of Baga town and indeed the entire Borno State are enjoined to continue to provide credible information that will assist the security agencies to successfully combat terrorism as well as apprehend and flush out the perpetrators of the attack,” he said.