About 25 people, including All Progressives Congress, APC, members who were on their way to Maiduguri, to attend the stakeholders’ meeting/congresses were at the weekend killed by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in separate attacks in Gwoza Local Government Area, Borno State.
It was learnt that the attacks occurred on the Maiduguri- Biu road.
“About 18 delegates of the APC, who were on their way to attend a second stakeholders meeting slated for Sunday (yesterday) were ambushed by suspected terrorists in the bus they were travelling and killed,” a source.
247ureports.com also gathered that about seven motorists and passengers were shot dead by the suspected terrorists on the Maiduguri-Biu road, within the vicinity of Gwargube village.
The Maiduguri-Biu road has become a death trap in the past few weeks, as hardly a day passes without terrorists attacking and murdering travellers, despite the security operatives patrolling the road.
A member of the vigilance youth, a.k.a Civilian JTF, who did not want his name mentioned confirmed the attack in a telephone interview.
He said: “Some terrorists group yesterday laid ambush to some motorists and passengers along the Maiduguri- Biu road and killed many people. They later invaded Gwargube village and solicited support from the villagers or risk deadly attacks.
“Although when they invaded the village after the road ambush, they did not attack or kill anybody, they, however, warned the people to cooperate with them in their mission or risk their lives.”
A survivor of the attack on the bus conveying the APC delegates confirmed the attack.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Lawal Tanko, said he was not aware of the incident and was hearing it for the first time from our correspondent.
He, however, promised to investigate it and get back before going to press.
In Buni Gari, Yobe State, where 17 persons were killed on Saturday by insurgents, residents were already fleeing the town en masse to escape further attack by the terrorists.
The state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Ali, was in the town yesterday and described the attack as “callous and unfortunate”.
“This is an unfortunate and merciless attack meted on innocent citizens without any sense of reasoning,” he said.
Ali lamented that the state had lost so many lives and properties to insurgency.
The state government has set up a committee to resettle the villagers and assess the level of damage.
The government directed the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, to liaise with community leaders, National Union of Transport Workers, NURTW, and traders’ associations on how to assist the victims.
SEMA Executive Secretary, Alhaji Musa Idi, said the agency had already provided relief materials for the victims who lost their properties.
Many survivors have fled the village and taken refuge in Damaturu and its environs.
A resident, Ali Buni, confirmed the development.
He said: “If you were here yesterday, you will see people moving out of the town. Many people have left the town and more are leaving for fear of another attack.”
Our correspondent, who was in Buni Gari, saw many people moving towards Damaturu with their families.
An official of the NURTW said 52 vehicles and 10 Keke NAPEPs (auto rickshaws) were burnt by the insurgents.
Meanwhile, some military commanders have been accused by a soldier of working with the Boko Haram insurgents, which has been responsible for thousands of death since it began an uprising in 2009.
The soldier, who did not want his name mentioned, told a news agency yesterday that he had witnessed incidents that suggested that some military commanders were working with the sect.
Former Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd), had also accused some soldiers of conniving with the Boko Haram to sabotage the military’s efforts in combating them.
In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Hausa Service, the unnamed soldier described how his military unit based in Borno State was ambushed by Boko Haram fighters.
The soldier said the commander of a nearby military unit, based in Bama, recently sought assistance from his unit in carrying out a raid.
He said that when the two military units joined up, they were given different uniforms. The Bama unit commander gave his own troops green uniforms. The soldier said his unit received tan “desert camouflage” uniforms.
When the troops reached the battle area, the soldier said the commander of the betterequipped Bama unit suddenly withdrew his forces, leaving the remaining troops to fend for themselves against Boko Haram fighters.
Speaking in Hausa, he said: “We had only light arms and our men were being picked off one after the other.”
The soldier also said he recognised some of the Boko Haram fighters as his former military trainers in Kontagora, a town near Abuja.
“We realised that some of them were actually mercenaries from the Nigerian Army… hired to fight us,” he said.
He also reiterated that commanders were pocketing money that was supposed to be used to help equip units.
It will be recalled that in a January 2012 speech, President Goodluck Jonathan said Boko Haram members had infiltrated the executive, legislative and judicial arms, as well as the police and armed forces.
A state of emergency was declared in the three states where Boko Haram was active, while the military launched operations to destroy the group’s camps. Despite these efforts, largescale attacks have continued.
Atlantic Council Africa Centre Director, Peter Pham, said the soldier’s account could have merit.
“It certainly would not surprise me that it is happening,” said Pham.
He said the goal should be to figure out how and why collaboration between military officers and terror groups could happen.
“What’s critical is to understand, if there is this collusion, to understand whether it is a collusion borne out of corruption, borne out of desperation simply to avoid combat that would result in casualties for the men under your command, or if it is borne out of ideological sympathy with the insurgents,” he said.
Apart from some welltrained elite units, Pham said most of Nigeria’s military was “woefully underfunded and under-resourced” in terms of equipment and training.
But the Army yesterday denied the report, saying military operatives were not conniving with the Boko Haram insurgents.
Director of Army Public Relations, DAPR, Brig.-Gen. Olajide Laleye, told National Mirror in Abuja that it was a matter of allegation and propaganda from faceless people that soldiers were having an alliance with the Boko Haram sect.
Laleye, who was surprised at the issue, said: “As far as I am concerned, this is an allegation. It is propaganda. So long as people could not put down names, such story stands untrue.”