With most parts of northern and central Borno State under their control,
gunmen of the Boko Haram have been mounting tollgates on major international highways within the state where they collect fees from passengers and drivers who are lucky to be spared, eyewitnesses and government officials said.
Apart from collecting tolls from travellers, the gunmen would also screen every passenger, and any person who speaks Kanuri or found to be a resident of Maiduguri would be shot dead, witnesses added.
In the last three weeks the gunmen had laid siege on the roads to Maff, Dikwa, Ngala and Gamboru, where they would ambush travellers and dispossess them of their goods. Most of their targets were vehicles conveying rice and sugar supplied by government to be delivered to villagers for their use during the ongoing Ramadan fasting.
The route from Maiduguri to Gamboru, a border town near Cameroon, is about 185km and it is usually busied by heavy trailer trucks ferrying various commercial commodities to and from Nigeria.
But that commercial engagement that has provided jobs to hundreds of young men and older ones has now been slowed down due to the incessant attack by the Boko Haram gunmen.
Modu Air, a truck driver, told newsmen in Maiduguri, “Only a few of us are now plying the road. Many of our colleagues have changed routes because of the attacks that occur on the roads every day. I have witnessed instances where some passengers were shot dead either because they speak Kanuri and live in Maiduguri or because you come from one village where their members were killed or arrested by the vigilante.”
Confirming the attacks on the highways, Hon. Idrissa Jidda, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly representing Gamboru-Ngala, said “the insurgents have absolute control of the road since the past one month. No day passes without a case of attack along the Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru road and, in most cases, innocent people are being killed.”
Jidda, who is also the majority leader of the Borno State House of Assembly, told newsmen that “the insurgents stop vehicles at various points and forcefully collect money from passengers”.
“In most cases, they would carefully select some passengers and promptly execute them; they also kidnap girls at will and sometimes forcefully snatch vehicles that are loaded with assorted food items. The attacks are now rampant in Gamboru and Ngala to the extent that most of our people have fled to safer places like Maiduguri while many others have crossed over to Cameroon. We really need the intervention of the federal government,” he said.
Source News Express