Military faces operational challenges to reclaim Borno towns
• Elders’ forum indicts FG over Maiduguri attacks
• Resident flees with mother trapped to back
DESPITE “aerial and ground” operational military challenges, the fighter-jets of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) along troops of 7 Division of Nigerian Army in Borno State; fiercely fought Tuesday evening to reclaim the captured town of Monguno by Boko Haram insurgents last Sunday.
The challenges, according to a military source in Maiduguri, are directly related to “desert terrains and the inability of the fighter-jets” to effectively operate after sunset in a hazy atmosphere for clearer visibility.
Meanwhile, the Borno Elders’ Forum (BEF) Tuesday accused the Federal Government and President Goodluck Jonathan for allegedly allowing Boko Haram sect members to freely operate in the state and others in the North-East sub-region of the country.
Speaking Tuesday on Boko Haram’s attempt to attack and capture Maiduguri last Sunday, Secretary of BEF, Alhaji Mali Gubio, said that the insurgents are allowed to move freely in most of the affected states to “attack and kill” innocent citizens without any genuine cause.
His words: “We don’t believe that the Boko Haram militants are just daring the people on their own. They are daring the people because they have the backing of some people who do not want peace.”
He wondered how the insurgents are allowed to move freely in convoy of dozens of several cars despite the existence of numerous military and police check-points and other interceptions by soldiers, policemen and other security personnel.
In another development, a fleeing Monguno resident, Bale Mohammed (43), trekked to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, with his 75-year-old mother strapped to his back along with his father and trekked for 145 kilometres before being registered yesterday by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at the Maimalari resettlement camp for displaced persons.
It took the trio over 18 hours to “reach and arrive” at the Magumeri Road Housing Estate camp, before they were registered among the over 6,000 Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Speaking yesterday in Kanuri language on how he reached Maiduguri with his parents, Mohammed said the Boko Haram sect invaded Monguno town on Saturday evening killing every man in sight and burnt many houses, shops and public buildings to ashes.
“Though I was on Saturday morning at a wedding ceremony in an area far from Monguno town where it was rumoured that Boko Haram members were said to have launched attack on Monguno, but we used to hear such in the past without anything happening, so, I didn’t pay so much attention to it.
“Later, many had made their way to Yerwa (Maiduguri), but some of us waited to see what would happen. When I returned home in the afternoon, my ailing mother told me that I should immediately do something to evacuate them to Yerwa (Maiduguri) before it is too late.
“When I left for the motor park looking for a car, I heard a very loud bang which we have never had before even during previous attacks on our town, Monguno.
“Before I knew it, the attackers have reached inside the Monguno town. Everybody began running for safety. So, I had no option than to go back home and take my elderly parents who cannot run to anywhere.”
Some fleeing Monguno residents yesterday said that they saw two fighter-jets hovering over them while trekking to Maiduguri for safety.
“I think the fighter-jets are trying to locate the hide-outs of these insurgents before bombarding them, but they may be hiding in one place or the other where they could not be easily identified,” said
Bukar Amsuoa, who arrived in Maiduguri yesterday evening.
He said the challenges being faced by both ground and aerial troops may delay the reclaim of Monguno town that was captured after last Sunday’s attack on a military barrack and township.
A security source also in Maiduguri said: “There was an attempt to take back the barracks and Monguno town as a whole but the challenges are enormous,” adding that “the fighter-jets can only operate during the day time; and since the operation has not been completed yet, the effort will continue tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Another military source also told The Guardian yesterday that ground troops were inching towards Monguno.
Meanwhile, some of the over 1,000 soldiers, who retreated from Monguno on Sunday, alleged that they were being denied access to military facility in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Many of the soldiers sighted on Maiduguri-Baga road and the post office areas lamented that they are confused on what next to do since their retreat from military attacks.
“We left Monguno after our Brigade Commander and many others were injured. As you can see, I got to Maiduguri with a vest because I had to remove my uniform but I am being denied entry into the 7 Division, I don’t know what that means,” said one of the affected soldiers yesterday in Maiduguri.
Another soldier also said: “They (superior officers) have refused to recognise us… I am waiting to see what will happen in the next two days before taking a decision. We did our best in Monguno and I think this should be appreciated. They should correct our mistakes, re-equip us and we will go back.”
Gubio also said: “It is very surprising to see that the Boko Haram militants move around in thousands freely with their weapons and choose their targets, kill people, burn places, loot shops and houses and cart away people’s children and do whatever they want to do with them within this country.”