By Kingsley Omonobi and Ndahi Marama
The activities of Boko Haram in the North East, especially Borno State, have taken a new dimension, as insurgents now hunt farmers in communities in the state for leaking information on their exploits to security men.
This came as troops killed dozens of insurgents after they failed to attack a military formation at Goniri in Yobe State.
Similarly, banditry in Zamfara State has forced a record low turn-out of Muslim pilgrims, according to the state’s Pilgrims Welfare Board.
Recall that Boko Haram insurgents killed 20 farmers at Ngangam village, about 50 kilometres away from Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area, Borno State, as punishment for leaking information on their operations to the military.
“They stormed the settlement in about five pickup vans and motorcycles, first accusing the villagers of divulging information on their operations to the military, thereby colluding with the military to fight against them.
“They told the villagers point-blank that was why they had come to punish them and they immediately proceeded to slaughter some of the farmers and shooting the others; the total of those killed was 20. But I cannot tell you how many were slaughtered and how many shot,” a reliable source had said Wednesday.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the insurgents have taken their vengeance campaign to several other villages in the state, forcing farmers to abandon not only their farms but also communities.
“This is a new angle Boko Haram terrorists have introduced to their campaign. They have started going to villages because villagers give information to security agents about their operations.
“In some villages in Borno now, villagers have abandoned their communities and farms as a result of threats by the terrorists to deal with them, especially hearing of what happened in Ngangam village where 20 people were killed,” a source who fled one of the villages told Vanguard.
Troops repel Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe
In a similar development, troops of 120 Task Force Battalion, Sector 2 Operation of Operation Lafiya Dole, in Goniri, Yobe State, on Wednesday evening repelled Boko Haram insurgents who attempted to attack a military formation in the area and killed dozens of them.
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It was learned that the troops had information that the insurgents were advancing towards the military formation and laid an ambush for them.
Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, who confirmed the development, said: “Following aborted attempt by terrorists to infiltrate 120 Task Force Battalion location at Goniri, Yobe State, Sector 2 Operation Lafiya Dole, at about 6.33pm on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, troops of the Battalion tactically waited for the terrorists to close into the killing range and opened fire on the criminals who approached the location with 7 gun trucks and several other fighters on motorcycles.”
According to him, assorted high weapons, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the terrorists.
“Also captured from the terrorists were 5 Gun Trucks, 1 Vehicle Blinde Leger, VBL, while an unconfirmed number of motorcycles were destroyed.
“Generally, in comparable terms, the security situation within the North East zone is relatively calm and under control as troops remain committed and resolute to conduct robust multiple aggressive operations to end the insurgency,” Col Musa added.
He said the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, who had been in the Theatre of Operation for sometime, commended the efforts and successes of the troops in recent encounters with the terrorists and charged them to sustain the tempo.
Musa said the Army chief enjoined troops to be more vigilant and assured them of continuous support to ensure the looming defeat of Boko Haram terrorists and eventual destruction of fledgling Islamic State West Africa Province battling to establish dominant presence in Nigeria.
Similarly, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and Chairman, Security Council in the state has approved that the state-wide curfew which normally begins from 10.00pm to 6.00am daily be relaxed.
Spokesman of the governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, said in a statement yesterday: “His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and Chairman Security Council in the state has approved that the state-wide curfew which normally begins from 10.00pm to 6.00am daily be relaxed.
“Consequently, the curfew will now begin from 11.00pm to 6.00am daily throughout the state. Yobe State government will continue to work closely with security agencies in the state to ensure public safety and security of life and property.”
Zamfara State pilgrims
Meanwhile, Zamfara State Pilgrims Welfare Board has recorded a low turnout of intending pilgrims for the 2019 Hajj due to the activities of bandits in the state.
Chairman of the state pilgrims welfare board, Malam Abubakar Sarkin-Pawa, disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja.
He said the security challenges in the state have negatively affected the number of intending pilgrims.
“Yes, the security challenges somehow affected the turnout of pilgrims from Zamfara because if you could remember in 2016 we had 5,000 pilgrims from Zamfara state, in 2017 we airlifted 4,000 pilgrims.
“Now we are coming down to 1,500 pilgrims. You know most of the people that paid their hajj fare are nomadic Fulani and greater percentage of them is coming from the rural areas and they are affected by this security challenges,” he said.
Sarkin-Pawa said the state government had ensured that adequate security was provided to ensure safety of the pilgrims within and outside the hajj camp in Gusau, the state capital.
He added: “You know, our hajj camp is located at the centre of Gusau and you know Gusau is safe because it never had any strike from the bandits.
“We engage relevant security agencies such as the police, army and others, they are supported by the state government, to escort our pilgrims, even on transit from camp to airport.”
He, however, said the board had engaged the Council of Ulamas that would educate the pilgrims on the need to conduct themselves in orderly manner while in the Holyland.