Forty seven people have again been killed while several houses and vehicles were destroyed in Bama, Borno State, during a five-hour attack by the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
This came even as Governor Kashim Shettima accused the Presidency of insensitivity to the plights of the people and the state government since the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009.
The insurgency has claimed over 365 lives and many houses; and other properties this year alone.
Yesterday’s attack also came a day after the Senior Special Assistant, SSA, to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said the Army
was “winning the war” against the militants.
Shettima’s convoy had passed through the ill-fated town on Tuesday night on his way back to Maiduguri after visiting survivors of the Izghe massacre who escaped to Madagali, the headquarters of Gulak Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
Some Bama residents told our correspondent that the gunmen invaded the town at about 4a.m. yesterday in Hilux vehicles, armed with Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, petrol bombs and started shooting sporadically before security operatives engaged them in a shootout.
The gunmen, according to a source, succeeded in burning the palace of the Shehu of Bama.
However, the actual number of casualties of the attack could not be obtained as at the time of filing this report.
Our correspondent learnt that the gunmen succeeded in killing five persons, while the casualty on the terrorists’ side was not available.
Already, the senator representing Borno Central, Senator Ahmed Zanna, in an interview with journalists confirmed that many people were killed in the fresh attack, in which, he personally knew two of the victims.
Another set of gunmen also on Tuesday invaded the family residence of the Commander, Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, Maj.- Gen. Tukur Buratai, at Buratai District in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, killing two persons, including a security personnel on guard suspected to be a soldier, while others were injured.
Buratai is about 230 kilometres from Maiduguri. The village had some months ago witnessed an attack by suspected terrorists, during which a businessman also suspected to be a renowned Islamic Scholar was killed.
A resident, Musa Abubakar, said the other person killed by the attackers was a Chadian national, who was doing construction work at one of the houses owned by the Army General.
Abubakar said the gunmen set ablaze another family house where the father of General Buratai, Alhaji Yusuf Buratai resides as well as a Primary School before they fled into the bush.
It was learnt that the suspected terrorists ambushed some soldiers guarding the general’s mansion in the village at about 7pm and engaged them in a shootout.
During the exchange of gunfire, it was gathered that the terrorists who were using Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDS and Rocket Propelled Launchers were repelled by the security operatives, but the terrorists did not surrender as they moved to the family house of the general where his old father resides and set it ablaze.
Another resident, Mallam Hussain Ali Buratai told our correspondent in a telephone call that the gunmen who came in two Hilux vehicles did not attack other residents as they went straight to the general’s mansion.
He added that many residents fled the village to Miringa town as a result of the gun fight.
“We saw one of the military patrol vehicles that came all the way from Biu Military Barracks this morning (Wednesday) where they took the dead soldier with the injured, including a female soldier heading back to Biu,” Buratai said.
When contacted, the spokesman of the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Mohammed Dole claimed that he was not aware of the incident, but he will find out and later get back to our correspondent.
But the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Lawal Tanko in a telephone call to our correspondent confirmed the separate incidents and the killing of 47 people in the Bama attack.
Tanko said: “There was a separate attack yesterday in Buratai where a house owned by Major General Tukur Buratai was attacked by gunmen, but the security operatives were able to repel the attack as the damage to the house was minimal.
“Also in Bama Local Government Area, some suspected Boko Haram terrorists invaded the town and killed 47 residents.
“Our men have been on ground and the operation is still going on.”
Governor Shettima has accused the Presidency of insensitivity to the plights of the people and the state government over the Boko Haram attacks.
The state government was reacting to the statement made by Dr. Okupe, on Tuesday, which in itself was a reaction to Shettima’s comments that the terrorists have more sophisticated weapons than the military.
Okupe had dismissed Shettima’s assessment and reminded the governor that the war against the insurgents was not conventional in nature, insisting that there was ample evidence to show that the Armed Forces and security agencies are on top of the situation in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Maiduguri yesterday, Shettima’s media aide, Mallam Isa Umar Gusau, described Okupe’s statement as unfair.
Gusau said: “The statement was rather unfair and insensitive to the sorrowful plight of Borno people and its government. It is an irony to realise that while Okupe didn’t find it worthy to hold a press briefing in sympathy with the people of Borno and to join in condemning the horrible serial attacks that left nearly 300 innocent citizens killed in February alone, he found it very urgent to try to take advantage of an honest opinion just to show his face on television in the name of doing his job.
“At the end, it is Okupe that would attract ill feelings of the people towards the presidency and not his targeted prey.
“First let me say with emphasis that Governor Kashim Shettima has the highest regard for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and appreciates the president’s continued efforts in the last two and half years at tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Governor Shettima equally holds the Nigerian Armed Forces in very high esteem and he has since proved that by his devoted support of them as successive leaders of the forces have differently confirmed.
“The Defence Headquarters in Abuja once described Governor Shettima’s support of the armed forces as extraordinary. The army leadership in Borno once said Governor Shettima treats them as the 28th local government area in the state, just to express how much attention they get from the governor.
“The Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Security feels the same way of the Shettima administration and so do all paramilitary organisations in the state, as can be confirmed from each of them.
“The governor wouldn’t have accorded the armed forces such serious attention if he lacked confidence in their abilities, patriotism and commitment in the counter insurgency operations in Borno State.
“It is on record that Governor Shettima has in the last two and half years been corresponding with the presidency through oral and written channels but at no time did the governor try to take advantage of such correspondence to undermine the presidency.
“The governor’s very honest remark last Monday; was a case of one who wears the shoes knows where it pinches. The governor is the person on the ground; he knows exactly what the problems are.”
Adamawa State government yesterdaydescribed as ‘shocking’ the extent of destruction of lives and property in communities within its boundary with Borno State by insurgents.
The state Deputy Governor, Mr. Bala Ngillari, who is also the chairman, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency,ADSEMA, told newsmen in Yola that the situations called for concern.
“Communities along the border of Borno and Adamawa states are seriously devastated due to the frequent attacks.
“They need urgent government attention and assistance to save and protect them from total extermination,” Ngillari said.
He warned that the recent attacks had displaced several communities, including women and children, who were now taking refuge in Madagali Local Government Area.
The deputy governor said almost all the displaced persons were living under trees, uncompleted buildings and open spaces, adding that they were prone to another disaster arising from outbreak of disease.
He said that he met with top officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in Abuja over the attacks, and they promised to reach out to the affected communities within a few days. The deputy governor called on those sponsoring the insurgents, to have a rethink.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has asked the presidency to stop being unnecessarily defensive over its inability to curb the menace of the Boko Haram.
The party while also condemning the spate of mass killings by the sect, however, called on the government to concentrate on providing the military with all that it requires to defeat the insurgents.
It called the insurgents cowards for targeting unarmed civilians, especially women and children, in their dastardly attacks.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party insisted that nothing in the world can justify the senseless slaying of innocent civilians by a band of marauding insurgents.