JUST at a time the Federal Government is perfecting plans aimed at granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, in response to widespread calls by concerned stakeholders, the sect has unleashed fresh attacks in different parts of Borno State, killing a local government secretary, Alhaji Kachallah Umara; kidnapping an elder statesman, Dr Shettima Ali Monguno; and burning down schools, police station, hospitals and telecommunication masts.
Monguno was kidnapped on Friday at Mafoni Ward where he had gone for the Juma’at prayer. An eyewitness said the elder statesman was kidnapped by four young men who were carrying sophisticated weapons.
“They asked those who were with him to get out of the car – a Peugeot station wagon, and they took him away,” he said.
The abduction of the 87-year-old elder statesman has particularly created anxiety and confusion in government’s circles, as he had been in the vanguard of those canvassing amnesty for the sect.
“Saturday Tribune recalls that Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno was one of those Borno elders who met with President Goodluck Jonathan during his visit to the state on the issue of amnesty to the sect and withdrawal of JTF operatives from the state.
The state governor, Kashim Shettima, said that since he received the news of Monguno’s abduction, he had been in contact with President Goodluck Jonathan and the security chiefs on the matter, and that both (president and security chiefs) had shown concern.
“I was in contact with Mr President and I have spoken with the NSA. I believe that all agencies of government, all stakeholders were very much touched by this criminal and ugly act,” the governor said.
There has been no official response yet from the state police command, as the Police Commissioner, Yuguda Abdullahi, was said to have gone out of town. Police officers who spoke to Saturday Tribune on condition of anonymity said the information they were getting about the kidnap was “most unfortunate.”
In what appears the most daring of the sect’s moves on Borno State yet, gunmen in a convoy of about 50 Toyota Hilux vans Thursday evening stormed the headquarters of Marte Local Government Area of the state, where they burnt down public buildings, including schools, hospitals/clinics, police stations and telecommunications masts.
Marte is about 150 kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital, and also shares borders with Baga and Chad Republic, an epicentre of the sect’s activities.
A top police officer and some residents of Marte told Saturday Tribune that the gunmen invaded the town at about 4 p.m. wielding sophisticated weapons and chanting Allahu Abkar! (God is great!) as they lobbed Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) at the public structures.
According to a reliable source, “apart from the Lake Chad Development site, no other public structure remains standing in the town; all of them have been destroyed by the terrorists.”
Saturday Tribune gathered that the terrorists had, shortly after the Baga carnage, issued a warning letter to the Marte that the town would be their next target of attack.
Alhaji Kachallah Umara, the Dikwa Local Government secretary, was killed on Thursday at his residence at the Gomari Ward, Maiduguri, around 7 p.m.
Saturday Tribune gathered that four gunmen entered Umara’s residence and requested to see him. When they could not get him, they left temporarily only to return to the house when they saw one of his wives entering the house. They then forced their way in.
“We heard gunshots and then the women started wailing. We waited in our houses until we were certain that it was safe to go out,” a source told Saturday Tribune.
He said after the gunmen shot Umara several times, they took off, then the people alerted security operatives who came and took the corpse to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).