Fresh attacks by gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram Islamist sect has left at least 35 persons dead, including two soldiers and a policeman, with several others injured in Borno State, military officials said.
The spokesman of the Joint Task Force, JTF, Lt Col Sagir Musa said Boko Haram members, who had threatened to launch massive attacks as Ramadan ends, lived out their threat by launching coordinated attacks on Sunday.
Mr. Musa said: “Troops have successfully repelled Boko Haram attack on a Mobile Police Base and Bama town. The sect members, using sophisticated weapons and Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, launched attacks at about 6:45am on Sunday.
“The encounter led to the death of one policeman and 17 Boko Haram members, two soldiers were also wounded.”
Musa also said two soldiers were killed when Boko Haram staged another attack on the operatives of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF. The soldiers were able to kill 15 Boko Haram members during the attack.”
He said the attack took place “about 10am on Sunday, when some Boko Haram members armed with sophisticated weapons attacked MNJTF location at Malum Fatori.”
The military said normalcy had, however, returned to the two towns.
The recent attacks have heightened residents’ fear in Maiduguri, especially as they prepare for the Eid-el-Fitri, which marks the end of the Ramadan fast.
ICC indicts Boko Haram
Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court, ICC, in the Hague, said yesterday that after a preliminary investigation, it believed that acts attributed to the Islamist group Boko Haram are likely crimes against humanity.
The ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said the acts include murder and persecution. But she will only move to a full-fledged investigation after further study and depending on whether Nigerian authorities prosecute “those who appear to bear the greatest responsibility.”
Her report, which was issued yesterday in The Hague, Netherlands, is based on evidence gathered through December 2012.
In July last year, during her first visit to Nigeria since assuming office, ICC urged Nigeria to investigate crimes by Boko Haram.
Bensouda said she briefed President Goodluck Jonathan on ICC’s preliminary examination of the insurgency, but stressed that the court was not formally investigating the violence in northern Nigeria.
“Crimes are taking place,” the Gambian-born prosecutor told journalists. “These crimes may be called terrorist attacks but they could also qualify as crimes against humanity.”
Provided Nigeria takes action through its own judicial system, ICC does not plan to intervene, she said.
According to her, “the intention is not to intervene, but to ensure that Nigeria has the primary responsibility of investigating.”
Why I ordered Kano attack— Factional Leader
Meanwhile, leader of a faction of Boko Haram Islamist sect, Mohammed Marwana, yesterday, disclosed that he gave Federal Government prior notice of last week’s attack in the Sabon-Gari area of Kano that claimed over 40 lives, but that the government ignored his warning.
In an audio message, Sunday, Marwana said he ordered the attack to prove that he is the new leader of the sect and not the faction that claimed to have shot and deposed former leader, Abubakar Shekau.
Marwana is the leader of the Boko Haram faction that had been in negotiations with Federal Government appointed “Amnesty Committee” headed by the Minister of Special Duties, Turaki, who had earlier announced that Federal Government had secured a ceasefire deal with the sect.
A news report by Vanguard last week, said that Shekau had been shot and deposed by his own members.
There has been controversy regarding authenticity of Marwana as a member of the sect and its leadership, as he was recently dismissed by Imam Shekau in a Youtube video after he claimed that the sect had agreed to a ceasefire deal with Federal Government.
While confirming the ceasefire deal announced by the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Boko Haram, Marwana had apologised and begged for the forgiveness of Nigerians for the atrocities the group had committed in the country.
He had added that his leadership, which he claimed was authentic, had decided to tread the path of peace.
However, in the audio message, Marwana, who spoke in Hausa language, said: “I personally instructed the attack in Kano to prove to the world that I am the real leader of Boko Haram because there have been retrogressive forces on the issue of dialogue, who kept doubting my leadership in the sect.
“I told them ahead that there will be attack, and it has happened. It is a warning, and we need to say again that we carried out the attacks in Kano.”
On Shekau’s death
On the purported death of Imam Abubakar Shekau, the globally known leader of the sect, Marwana debunked speculations, but confirmed that he only lost the leadership of the sect.
Marwana said: “Shekau is alive contrary to speculations, except that he lost leadership of the sect.
“I will not tell you where he is. But he is alive, and we talked with him not up to three hours ago. Except if he died while I am talking.”
To prove that things were not alright in the Boko Haram leadership, in a July 15 video of Shekau, he appeared to be heavily drugged, with eyes closed throughout in the clip.
He was shouting and raising his head weirdly as he denied peace negotiations with the government and promised more attacks on schools.
This contrasts with his previous videos in which he usually appeared more relaxed. The background of the video also had a simple plastic bag drape as against his more comfortable surroundings in previous videos.