At least 57 persons, including 24 members of indigenous youth vigilance group, ‘Civilian JTF’; 16 Shuwa Arab herdsmen and 17 civilians were yesterday killed by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in three different local government areas of Monguno, Damboa and Nganzai in Borno State.
The incident occurred barely one week after the withdrawal of Joint Task Force (JTF) ‘Operation Restore Order’ which was replaced by a military division. It was also observed that Governor Kashim Shettima yesterday afternoon had a marathon meeting with security chiefs and traditional rulers including the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Garbai el-Kanemi.
Although, journalists were prevented from covering the meeting, it was gathered that it dwelled extensively on how to review the security challenges currently going on in villages, towns and council areas of the state, in which all the affected local government chairmen used the opportunity and brief the governor on the security situation.
Our correspondent gathered that the recurring onslaught of the insurgents has put fear in the minds of the vigilance group members, specifically those in the Maiduguri metropolis, as the state capital has within the last one week witnessed a drastic reduction of such groups.
Sources at Monguno recalled that in yesterday’s attacks, “young vigilantes numbering over 100 were on a mission to capture some Boko Haram terrorists in their camps around Kaleri, Shuwari, Maganari and Nannari villages before they were ambushed by the terrorists, which led to the death of 24 of them while about 36 others are still missing.
“In fact, there was an initial arrangement with military troops that they would accompany the vigilante youths to the said Boko Haram camps in Monguno, and when the youths waited to see the arrival of the military men for some hours to no avail, they summoned up courage to visit the area with a view to arresting the suspects, but unknown to them, the armed Boko Haram sects were disguised in military uniform with three captured patrol vehicles of the security agencies which made the youths to conclude that it was the military troops that went to the camp ahead of them.
“So as they approached the camps, the terrorists opened fire and killed about 15 of the Civilian JTF, while the other nine who were ‘spiritually charmed’ against gunshots were also killed as the terrorists used their vehicles to run over them. But as I am talking to you now, about 36 of the volunteer youths are still missing, while we received an unconfirmed report that five of them who escaped the attack with broken legs and hands and were later rescued by some Good Samaritans in one of the villages close to the camps. They are now receiving treatment with the villagers,” the source disclosed.
Another reliable source in Gajiram of Nganzai council area which shares border with Monguno told our correspondent that 17 people were killed out of over 50, by the terrorists after they mobilised themselves with the intention of assisting and rescuing the vigilante youths in the area.
A top politician and close associate of the state governor who did not want his name in print confirmed the Monguno, Nganzai and Damboa coordinated attacks. He said, “There was a massive killing of vigilante youths who were on a volunteer mission to arrest Boko Haram terrorists in Nganzai and Monguno. Presently, the chairman of Nganzai, Comrade Ajimi Badu and that of Monguno, Alhaji Mohammed Nur Monguno, as well as the vice – chairman of Damboa, Honourable Ali Garba, have all rushed to Maiduguri to brief Governor Kashim Shettima on the separate incidents.”
Although, all the affected caretaker chairmen were sighted at the Government House, Maiduguri after the meeting, they all confirmed the incidents but declined comments on the number of casualties.