West & Central Africa

Boko Haram strikes back after army claims victory

Boko Haram killed 50 more in a week and abducted key government officials, following the army’s declaration of the ‘defeat’ of Boko Haram and that the ‘miscreants’ are on the run.

The Islamist terrorist group killed 50 people on an oil exploration trip at Borno Yesu. The army had early said that only 10 soldiers were killed.

Eye witnesses confirmed that those killed included 18 soldiers, 15 Civilian Task Force members, five university of Maiduguri staff and four drivers of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Bunu Bukar, Secretary of the Hunters Association and self-defense group, said its members saw the bodies from the convoy which was attacked soon after the ambush.

“What I can confidently confirm to you is that the insurgents came in new vehicles and fully dressed in military uniforms,” Bukar said.

Umaru Idi, who survived the attack, said hundreds of Boko Haram Islamic terrorist stormed the convoy. “They fired RPG (Rocket propelled Grenades) to take out the first car in front and another military car in the middle. We were all confused and in-between the sporadic gunfire from both the soldiers and the Boko Haram. Some of us laid on the ground, others took to their heels. For over an hour, there was exchange of fire from both the soldiers and the Boko Haram fighters.” He said. Among the soldiers killed was Medawa, a Lieutenant who was to be decorated Captain on Thursday 27th.

Screenshot from Book Haram Video: University of Maiduguri staff abducted by Book Haram

The mystery regarding the strength and capacity of the terrorist group and the information coming from the Nigerian army regarding the ‘clearance of the remnants’ of Boko Haram in the northeast was contradicted by the Air force, in a statementby Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, who said on Thursday, “Intelligence surveillance and Reconnaissance reports through the second quarter of 2017 indicated a gradual return of the Boko Haram terrorist activities to the Sambisa Forest. There have been sightings of a few Boko Haram activities in the Sambisa general area, particularly in Parisu.” The Nigerian army is still sticking to claims that Boko Haram has been defeated and only mop up operations are ongoing in the northeast.

“This is where it is very annoying to us, as Church leaders,” said a former Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) official in Maiduguri. “I am pastor. I see the lack of truth from the army and the politicians. Because we don’t know really what is happening, what do I say to my church members? Peace is returning to your village so go back and try to live your lives? Will I not be sending them to their deaths?

“So you may not hear the church saying much in all this confusion… people around Chibok to the surrounding Gwoza to Mubi can’t freely go to farms or market without military escort. Is that the defeat of Boko Haram?” he added. “You talk too much you become a target for elimination either by Boko Haram or the security agents themselves. So we are not in a hurry to say anything.”

Social analysts say as much as the Nigerian government wants to prove it is winning the war against Boko Haram.

“This is also in addition to the fact that the Boko Haram saga is a huge franchise in the country,” according to a security analyst, close to the theatre of war in Maiduguri in an interview with Global Christian News.

Development projects in Maiduguri

“Millions of dollars continue to flood the northeastern region of the country; there is the security spending from the Federal and Borno state governments and the army which is classified,” the security analyst added. “Millions of pounds and dollars flow from UK and USA governments in addition to what the UN agencies pumps in. All these outside what humanitarian organizations, religious bodies and individuals sacrifice to help desperate situations on the ground. You already know that the corruption in all these has not gone away,” he said.

A lecturer in the University of Maiduguri, who wanted to remain anonymous said there are also the political gains. “The credits the Federal Government gains from both the settlements for the release of the famous Chibok schoolgirls and what the Borno government gains from the re-construction of the road into Maiduguri and rebuilding of homes and worship places in villages in Borno State are very obvious. They want Nigerians to believe that their party, APC (All people’s Congress) have achieved what the previous government could not. It is a shame that people claim credits in colossal tragedies like this.”

The military, grudgingly had to admit that at least some of its soldiers are either helping the Islamic cause of Boko Haram or profitting from it. The few that got caught were convicted in a military court martial by the Nigerian Army Court Martial (NACM) which sat in Maiduguri on Wednesday for stealing weapons and ammunition.

Some Chibok Schoolgirls released by Boko Haram

Critics have also pointed to mysterious circumstances surrounding the Christian Chibok schoolgirls abducted in April 2014. The Borno state governor, Kasim Shettima celebrated the graduation of the very first 42 Chibok girls, out of the 57 girls who escaped from their captors shortly after their abduction.

Of the 42 girls who were secretly enrolled; the Christians among them were sent to Bethel International Christian Academy in Jos, Plateau State, central Nigeria and the Muslims enrolled at Ulul-Albab Science Secondary School, Katsina, northern Nigeria.

The other 86, whom the government paid for their release, will be schooled at the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Adamawa state, under close supervision.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor for Global Christian News. He is a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos. Image Credits: Screenshots from Boko Haram Video/ Author’s picture of construction site.