West & Central Africa

Christian refugees urged to be cautious about returning to homes

Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali , claimed that the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau had been hiding his identity to evade capture or killing for his crimes.

“Let me tell you categorically, these Insurgents, they have a way of putting mask. There could be so many but we are looking for the real one. He has been using mask to portray Shekau in one incident or the other to give an impression that he has been killed so that we will relax but we will not relax. We are on him,” he declared.

General Dan Ali, speaking at the presidential villa, Abuja, said, “I believe it’s just a matter of time. (to kill Shekau) It took America about seven to 10 years to get Bin Laden so we will get Shekau as soon as possible… I told you before now, the spiritual headquarters has been ransacked and vandalized, he (Shekua) is on the run. So, he may be hiding in one of the enclaves of Sambisa forest which we are dominating.”

“The Minister is not saying anything new,” according to one Christian leader, the Rev Sam Mohammed, who had to leave Maiduguri due to the constant threats to Clergy in the state. “If Shekau disguises himself how many of the disguised Shekaus have been captured? All this is beside the point. Where are the sponsors and keepers of Shekau? Where are the sponsors and sympathizers in government? They are the ones the minister should be worried about.”

A public affairs commentator in Adamawa, who cannot be named for security reasons, said, “We are weary of double talk and double standards. The government declared Sambisa to be free of Boko Haram how come then he disguises himself in the same Sambisa forest? What is the minister not telling us? The Army said the forest was safe and people can start going back but those who go back have been killed by Boko Haram.”

Corroborating this story of killings and abductions, Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps Ibrahim Abdullahi, said, contrary to the claims of the Army: “Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are desperate to return to their liberated communities should desist from living in areas that are not properly secured by armed personnel.”

Abdullahi said in Maiduguri on Tuesday that the Islamic terror group had attacked Mittiri, Akalli and Arribbari villages in the same Konduga local government area that were “freed of Boko Haram” by the Nigerian Army.

“Our intelligence report had indicated that the insurgents are now operating in Dalla Fatimiri on about 10 motorcycles. “Our men of anti-vandalism and Intelligence Unit of the Command on Friday reported the kidnapping of four youths in Kalari village in Konduga local government area,” he said.

In contrast, the church leader Sam Mohammed said, “it is unfortunate that Christian communities are pushed back and front by government’s lack of transparency and Boko Haram attacks. Christians are caught in this misinformation and many lose their lives all the time.”

He argued: “I will insist, like some security agencies are cautioning, that Christians confirm and be sure of safety before going back to their communities and not hear the media propaganda of the safety of the villages and communities,” he added.