Boko Haram insurgents have again attacked Bama, killing 47 people in the town that has come under frequent assault from the sect.
The terrorists also attacked the family residence of the commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Major-General Tukur Buratai, in another siege on the troubled Borno State.
General Buratai is from Buratai town in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State where he has a family home.
The attacks came as the state and its people were trying to recover from the devastation the insurgents wrought on Izge in Gwoza Local Government Area of the state last Saturday night during which they killed over 133 people.
The state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who was in Izge yesterday to assess the level of destruction inflicted on the village, described the sect as comprising people who are deficient in ideology and beliefs.
His Kwara State counterpart, Alhaji Abdufatah Ahmed, however called for better ties between Nigeria and its neighbours to secure their cooperation in defeating the terrorrists.
Ahmed’s statement coincided with that of the Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. David Paradang, who gave some insight into one of the factors which aids terrorism and continuous movement of arms into the country, revealing that the borders are perpetually open and lack effective control.
In the meantime, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which condemned the latest round of killings in Borno State, has urged the presidency to stop being defensive over the criticism of its handling of the anti-terror campaign.
Bama, where some semblance of normalcy was gradually returning to, after the incessant attacks by the sect in the last one year, was again attacked yesterday by the gunmen who operated unchallenged for about one hour.
Many had fled the town a year ago when the town was devastated by the sect, which killed many security personnel and destroyed property worth billions of naira.
The state police command confirmed that no fewer than 47 persons were killed in Bama.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Lawan Tanko, confirmed the death toll to journalists yesterday night. Tanko told reporters during a telephone interview that â€œevery land mark building, including the local government secretariat, the state low cost housing estate, schools, as well as parts of the Shehuâ€™s palace were destroyed.â€
â€œAs at the last time I spoke to my Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Bama, we have had 47 dead casualty recorded, while several number of persons were confirmed injured.
Some are already in hospitals in the town. I have instructed my men to liaise with the hospital if we can have a figure of those who are dead,â€ he added.
Senator Ahmed Zannah, representing Borno Central, also told the BBC Hausa Service that many persons were killed in yestersday’s attack, adding that he knew two persons killed by the insurgents.
He also said a lot of property was destroyed in the town by the sect.
Another resident who called journalists from Bama also explained that among those killed were five prominent individuals in the town.
He said: â€œI can tell you that several persons were killed by the hoodlums who went from one house to the other killing people at will.
â€œThey went about burning shops and shot severally into the air.â€
It was further gathered from other sources in the town that the hoodlums came at about 4 am and burnt down some shops.
The attack, according to some residents, prevented them from coming out for the early morning Muslim prayer to avoid being shot at.
Another source, who yesterday gave an account of the Boko Haram attack on the JTF commanderâ€™s family house in Buratai, said the terrorists bombarded the building at about 6 pm on Tuesday, ostensibly expecting strong resistance because of Buratai’s status.
He said they killed a carpenter at the family home, which was completely razed.
The source added that the gunmen were however not successful during an attempt to attack the personal residence of the general as they met resistance from soldiers on guard.
He however said a soldier was killed in the exchange of gunfire.
Despite the spate of attacks on the state, the state governor ventured out yesterday to visit Izge to mourn with the residents who lost over 133 people during last Saturdayâ€™s invasion of the village by members of Boko Haram.
Shettima and his entourage were greeted with tears and stories of woes by the people who have been forced to live under trees and in the open following the attack.
The governor, moved by the level of destruction the insurgents had visited on the village, described the outlawed sect as a bunch of miscreants deficient in ideology and known beliefs.
He said: â€œNigerians should not be under the illusion that the Boko Haram sect is fighting a religious or ethnic war against the country as their actions have continually shown they are no respecter of anyone.
â€œBoko Haram is not a religious and ethnic sect but dissidents that attack any and everything. It should be corrected that they are not out to attack Christians alone; they have been attacking all in equal measure.â€
Shettima said contrary to reports by the international media that the attack on Izge was targeted at Christians, the sect killed at will and without discrimination.
He said many Muslims were killed in Izge, which is predominantly a Muslim settlement, adding that the sect had been killing Muslims and Christians, burning churches as well as mosques, and murdering the Kanuris as well as other ethnic groups.
The governor, who compensated a church burnt down in Gwoza by the insurgents with N3.2 million, said he as a leader had been given the mandate to be fair to all and he would never discriminate against anyone based on religion or ethnicity.
â€œNo single church will be paid less than N1 million among the 20 churches burnt in Gwoza Local Government Area of the state,â€ he said, adding that the 10 mosques which were burnt in the area by the insurgents would also be compensated.
The governor, who was told that over 300 persons were killed in the local government area in the recent past, added, â€œWe will not set out to discriminate against any ethnic group, religious group or body. One of the churches that was burnt was just given N3.2 million in assistance.â€
The governor and his entourage, which included Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, were moved by the weeping people of Izge who had to journey over 20 kilometres to Sabon-Gari and Gulak, both in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State, for refuge.
Shettima also ordered that N2 million should be immediately made available to provide immediate relief items such as foodstuff and toiletries for the people.
He also ordered the release of N200 million to assist the victims of various Boko Haram attacks in Gwoza Local Government Area.
He said: â€œWe are not here to pay for the loss of lives and property destroyed by the Boko Haram onslaught, as no amount of cash would either repay for the souls lost or valuables destroyed by the insurgents, as well as the horrifying trauma you suffered.
â€œRather, we are here to sympathise with you and see how best to overcome your sufferings.â€
At the secretariat of Madagali Local Government, where some of the fleeing residents of Izge went to seek refuge, Shettima implored the survivors to take heart, saying government had taken steps to protect their lives and property against more attacks.
Also speaking, Ndume told the victims that Shettima was committed to ensuring that more troops are deployed to their area to enable them return home.
He said the governor had met with President Goodluck Jonathan and deliberated on how best to guarantee their safety.
However, proffering what he considered one of the ways to tackle the insurgency, Shettimaâ€™s counterpart in Kwara, Ahmed, called for cooperation between Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad and Niger to boost the anti-terror war.
Ahmed, while receiving the new state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, at Government House, Ilorin, yesterday, also urged him to strengthen security at the state’s border towns to forestall infiltration into the state by criminals.
He said it appeared that other countries prone to the activities of the insurgents were not doing as much as Nigeria in tackling the problem.
According to him, the operation of insurgent groups transcends the shores of the nation and admonished security operatives to explore the possibilities of cutting off sources of funding and arms for the insurgents as a way of halting the menace.
Earlier, Aisabor described his posting to Kwara State as a routine one devoid of political undertones and promised that he would work within the ambit of the constitution and police regulations to ensure security in the state.
On his part, the NIS comptroller general has attributed the upsurge in terror activities and continuous movement of arms into the country to Nigeria’s porous borders and ineffective control.
Paradang, while defending his agency’s budget before the Senate Committee on Interior, said leaving the borders open would aid illegal immigration and compound the security challenges facing the country.
He pleaded with the committee to recommend adequate funding for the NIS this year to enable it combat the menace.
He also advocated the need to install radars at the borders, especially in the North-east, with a view to monitoring movement in and out of the country.
Meanwhile, the APC has condemned the spate of mass killings by Boko Haram in the North-east, describing the insurgents as cowards for targeting unarmed civilians, especially women and children.
In a statement Wednesday by its interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said nothing could justify the senseless slaying of innocent civilians by a band of marauding insurgents, and reminded the terrorists that they cannot win the ill-advised war they have levied against their fatherland.
It condoled with the government and people of the affected states, especially Borno, which has borne the brunt of the attacks, over the killings as well as the destruction of houses and other property.
APC said while the Nigerian military had undoubtedly recorded some successes in its battle against the terrorists, it was time for it to review its strategy for preventing the mass killings, especially in the remote areas.
The party urged the military to increase its intelligence gathering capability with a view to checking the attacks on civilians and military targets, including barracks.
It also asked the presidency to stop being unnecessarily defensive and concentrate on providing the military with all that it requires to defeat the insurgents.
The party described as counter-productive, unwarranted and ill-advised the indirect attacks launched against Shettima by the presidency, for simply stating the obvious, adding that soldiers needed to be adequately equipped and properly motivated, if they are to subdue Boko Haram.
â€œWe know that several of the presidencyâ€™s attack dogs are terribly under-employed and that they need to face the klieg lights time and again to justify the huge taxpayersâ€™ funds being expended on them, but the truth is that they ridicule no one but themselves and the presidency when they have to bark at the victims of the deadly Boko Haram attacks from the comfort of their padded offices in Abuja,â€ it added.
The party commended Shettima for his unflinching support of the military in its ongoing battle against Boko Haram, as well as the efforts of his administration to alleviate the sufferings of the victims of the terrorist attacks.