Suspected terrorists of Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) have killed 11 policemen, six soldiers and four civilian members of JTF along Monguno/Baga road in Borno State.
The 17 security personnel were slain in Governor Babagana Zulum’s convoy on Friday while on his way to resettle 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) yesterday.
Zulum had departed Maiduguri Thursday morning in a military helicopter to join his convoy in Monguno town, 57 kilometres to Baga. The fish trading town, 191 kilometres north of Maiduguri, was recaptured by military in 2016.
The returning IDPs were on several occasions attacked by Boko Haram in 2014 before they took refuge in Monguno and Maiduguri camps for over five years.
Confirming the incident yesterday in Maiduguri, two sources from the Police and Army said: “We were heading to Baga town in the Governor’s convoy at about 2:00 pm yesterday (Friday), when sporadic gun shots and grenades were fired into our convoy at Korochara village.”
While lamenting the casualties, the Police source said: “We lost 11 policemen, four Civilian JTF and six soldiers that died instantly in the Baga ambush multiple attacks.”
He added that an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) of the Police and six government official vehicles were also confiscated by terrorists, who fled towards Lake Chad, east of Monguno military barrack.
Also, confirming the incident, Borno State Police new Commissioner, Bello Makwashi, however, said eight policemen and three Civilian JTF died in the attack.
While assuring the people of their safety, Makwashi said the Nigeria Police is determined to carry out its constitutional mandate to protect people’s lives and property. “We’ll not relent in providing the needed security for the good citizens of Borno State at all times,” he said.
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has condemned the attack, describing it as shocking and unfortunate. Ortom, in a sympathy message to his Borno State counterpart, signed by his Chief Press Secretary, CPS Terver Akase, described the attack as shocking and unfortunate.
He expressed optimism that Zulum will not be deterred by the reprehensible ambush as he continues to work with security agencies to restore peace to all parts of his state.
Meanwhile, Arewa leaders, under the aegis of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), have said that the continuous attacks and killing of Nigerians and soldiers in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents is gradually eroding public confidence in the military.
ACF said that despite the Federal Government’s assurances to end terrorists’ assault on Nigerians, the attacks and killing continue to worsen by the day.
The Northern group, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said, “We are alarmed that for all the assurances we have received from the military and the Federal Government of an improved security situation on the Boko Haram front, the deadly attacks and killings have continued regardless.”
The group, while calling on the military to act swiftly to restore this confidence, said, “the ACF is also aware of the sagging morale of our fighting men. The Federal Government and the military high command must act quickly and resolve all the issues that have led to the current low morale.”
The ACF noted that governor Zulum whom the terrorists have currently targeted for elimination is one governor who raises hope in a demoralised country.
“If anything untoward happens to him, the consequences for the rest of the country will be grave. It is instructive to note that the attack on the governor’s convoy happened while he was trying to move some IDPs back to their permanent homes from camps. These attacks have therefore raised questions on the ability of the military to ensure the safety of internally displaced persons to return to their homes,” the group said.