In the latest event happening in Maduguri , Borno State of Nigeria and news culled out from the leadership.ng, “The crossfire between soldiers and suspected members of the Boko Haram sect, which escalated on Friday, continued until yesterday morning in parts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. Troops, which had earlier captured 17 towns and villages in the state, reportedly took over more areas yesterday.
News in Nigeria stated that residents, who had been holed up in their homes, especially in the Maiduguri metropolis, claimed that there was sporadic exchange of fire between the insurgents and troops throughout Friday night.
Apparently to minimise civilian casualty and to enable its men take the offensive to suspected Boko Haram hideouts, the Joint Task Force (JTF) has placed a 24-hour curfew in Maiduguri.
The measure might be connected to the Friday night attacks and the Wednesday bomb blast at the Monday International Market, Maiduguri, where several people were killed.
In a statement he signed, JTF spokesman Lt-Col. Sagir Musa said, starting from yesterday, a 24-hour curfew had been imposed in 12 areas in the Maiduguri metropolis.
Musa listed the affected areas as Gamboru-Customs Area, Mari Kuwait Area of the University of Maiduguri, Bakin Kogi, Kasuwan Shanu-Kofar Biyu, Rawan Zafi-Customs, 202 Housing Estate Bama Road, 303 Housing Estate Bama Road, and Dakiwa Low-cost Housing Estate.
The others are Simari-Zannari-Kwanan Yobe, 505 Housing Estate-Muna Garage Road, Chad Basin Muna Garage Road, and Baga Road-Bolori-Umamari.
Governor Kashim Shettima who went round the state capital in a convoy to assess the situation did not stop at a particular spot nor speak to anyone on the street.
There were also claims yesterday that residents in the border communities and areas where fighting between soldiers and terrorists was fierce had fled to Cameroun.
It was learnt that a bomb blast in Jere local government area in the state capital on Friday claimed five residents while the exchange of fire between the Boko Haram suspects and JTF operatives left 20 others dead.
Since a rocket shootout occurred at the Monday International Market on Wednesday, most Maiduguri residents have stayed indoors.
So far, there have been no reported cases of harassment or molestation of residents by the troops deployed in the state capital.
An eyewitness of the Friday night explosion told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, “It was at 7pm that we heard a bomb blast by the roadside at the commercial area of the old Maiduguri where some shops were affected and five people were lying down unconsciously.
“A few minutes after we heard JTF’s siren and heard shooting. We also heard the sound of the gunshots of the Boko Haram sect members which is different from that of the JTF. Because we are used to the sound of all manner of gunshots, we can identify that of the JTF and Boko Haram sect members. The JTF men use Ak47 rifles while Boko Haram sect members use AK49 rifles and the sound is different,” he said.
The source said after the exchange of fire, JTF vehicles arrived at the scene and carried the dead bodies of between 15 and 25 victims and zoomed off.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday visited the Abbaganaram-Kofar and Biyu-Customs areas yesterday, motorists were not allowed into Kasuwan Shanu, Gamboru and Customs Market as well as Railway Crossing.
Some vehicles and youths were assembled by the roadside by the JTF at Abbaganaram and Kofar Biyu checkpoints while the Kasuwan Shanu Abattoir had been closed by the troops.
At the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, it was learnt that some corpses were brought to the mortuary yesterday morning by the JTF. Apart from the security men, no worker had reported for work.
One of the security men simply said, “We cannot talk because we are not allowed to do so. We are just security men. If you want to talk to the workers, you can come back; maybe one of them may decide to report for work and check the mortuary because it is a weekend and they don’t work at weekends.”
When LEADERSHIP SUNDAY approached a soldier to find out why the youths were being held, he asked, “Who are you?” When told of the identity of the reporter, the officer replied, “You know we don’t talk to journalists and our oga (sector commander) is not around. You go to the JTF headquarters for any information.”
At the JTF headquarters in Pompomari Bye-pass, Col. Musa was not in the office and could not be reached on phone because communications had been cut off on the various networks in the state.
Our correspondent was asked to come back on Monday during working hours. “Visitors are not allowed except on invitation and notice. We were not informed that you were coming to see the JTF spokesman,” a soldier on guard at the building said.
FG won’t spare enemies of peace – Jonathan
Yesterday in Enugu, President Goodluck Jonathan declared that the concept of Boko Haram was not Islamic but a pseudo-religious conflict with ethnic cleansing in some parts of the north.
He stated this during the foundation-laying ceremony of the new international terminal and commissioning of the remodelled terminal of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The president said without peace, Nigeria cannot get to its promised land. He therefore urged Nigerians to ensure that there was peace in the country and warned that where people still felt that they must continue to cause crisis in any part of the country, the federal government would enforce the law to the letter.
President Jonathan said that the new Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, would handle about 500,000 passengers yearly. He described Enugu as the gateway to the south-east region and the home of entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
He used the event to announce the federal government’s approval of a free trade zone from 9th Mile to the Akanu Ibiam Airport.
Speaking on behalf of the south-east political leaders at the Enugu State Governor’s Lodge, Anambra State governor Peter Obi told the president that most federal roads in the zone were still in deplorable state. Former vice president Alex Ekwueme, former governor of old Anambra State Jim Nwobodo, deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Emeka Ihedioha, secretary to the government of the federation Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate president Chief Ken Nnamani, and the five governors of the south-east attended the ceremony.
The Defence Headquarters said yesterday in Abuja that 65 persons suspected to be terrorists had been apprehended by its Special Task Force (STF).
In a statement, the director of information, Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said the terrorists were caught while attempting to enter Maiduguri as they fled their various camps now under attack.
He said the arrest was a continuation of the mission aimed at ridding Nigeria of all insurgency activities.
According to him, a total of 11 vehicles, four tricycles and 24 GSM handsets were seized in the process. “All the suspects are in custody of the Joint Task Force and are currently being interrogated,’’ Gen. Olukolade said.
The statement added that most of the terrorists’ camps were found to have been deserted by fleeing insurgents when STF troops stormed their occupied localities.
“The facilities have now been occupied by our troops,’’ it further said.
The defence spokesman added that troops engaged and dislodged insurgent groups who carried out the May 7 attacks on citizens in Gamboru ward.
It said 10 suspected terrorists were confirmed dead during the operation while weapons such as rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assorted ammunition and rifle magazines were recovered.
The statement also said some of the fleeing insurgents from various camps had been in search of fuel from neighbouring communities.
Emergency rule to complement amnesty – Northern governors
Meanwhile, the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has said that the imposition of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by President Jonathan would complement the federal government’s amnesty scheme for repentant insurgents.
In line with the new development, the forum has shifted its meeting scheduled for Tuesday to May 28 to enable it study the execution of amnesty in the three states.
The chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, expressed support for the emergency rule.
He said, “The forum believes the imposition of emergency rule will complement the offer of amnesty made to the members of Boko Haram sect to restore peace to the affected states.”
Aliyu however urged security agencies deployed in the affected states to operate in accordance with the rules of engagement by respecting the sanctity of human life, especially civilians who are not involved in the crisis.
He asked the people of the affected states to cooperate with military personnel posted to their areas to avoid unnecessary loss of lives.
The forum lauded President Jonathan for taking the action and appealed to members of the sect to accept the government’s amnesty so that lasting peace would return to the north and Nigeria.
The governors commiserated with the families of the victims of the gunmen attack in Daura, Katsina State, on Thursday and advised Nigerians to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement of persons to the security agencies.
Presidency happy over acceptance of emergency rule
It was learnt that the presidency and the Defence Headquarters were excited over the acceptability of the state of emergency, especially by former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, former head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the press and other prominent Nigerians.
“We are satisfied with the way and manner the critical sector of the polity such as the NBA, the human rights community and well-meaning Nigerians like generals Babangida and Abdulsalami received it ,”a presidency source told LEADERSHIP Sunday”.