Boko Haram terrorists yesterday invaded four villages near Chibok, killing many people and setting churches ablaze.
A member of a local vigilante, who declined to be named, told the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that the terrorists simultaneously struck Kautikari, Nasarawa, Gwaradina and Kwadake villages in the Chibok community.
“Air force plane was sent to the area for counter-attack; unfortunately the plane could not get there in good time to rescue the villagers,” he said.
A survivor of the attack on Kautikiri village, Samuel Chibok, said that around 20 men in a Toyota pick-up truck and motorcycles rolled into the town, sprayed it with bullets, focusing much of their firepower on panicky worshippers in a local church.
“Initially I thought they were military people but, when I came out, they were firing at people. I saw people fleeing and they burned our houses,” he said.
Confirming the incident to the BBC, the senator representing Borno South senatorial district, Mohammed Ali Ndume, and the House member representing Askira-Uba, Peter Biye, said they were informed of the attack in the four villages but he could not confirm the casualties as at the time of filing this report.
Members of the vigilante on rescue mission have said they have picked more than 30 corpses in three different burnt churches and surrounding bushes after the gunmen attacked two communities in Chibok local government area of Borno State.
This casualty figure was however not verified independently by LEADERSHIP as security officials said they could not give official figures immediately.
The attackers, according to witnesses, stormed the village of Kwada, 10km away from Chibok, and opened fire on worshippers performing the Sunday service in various churches.
LEADERSHIP gathered that about three churches in Kwada village comprising COCCIN, EYN and Deeper Life Bible Church were attacked by the insurgents who stormed the village about 8:30am yesterday.
“We have so far recovered more than 30 corpses, but we got more of them from the EYN church where the Boko Haram gunmen first attacked in Kawada,” said a vigilante member who pleaded anonymity for his personal safety.
The vigilante member said they were not impressed with the response of the soldiers in Chibok who, he said, got an earlier alert about the attack but shied away from directly confronting the attackers.
“We are disappointed with the soldiers. When we heard about the attack in Kwada, we raised the alarm and informed the soldiers, but instead of going into the town to confront them, they stood from a distance outside the village, under a tree and began to shoot no target. The gunmen finished with Kwada and proceeded to Kautikari, where they attacked people there until 11:30am when they finally left. We cannot say how many people were killed in Kwada yet.”
A police officer confirmed to journalists in Maiduguri that he was informed that his younger brother had been killed during the attack in Kwada.
“I was attending church service in Maiduguri when I began to see several calls on my phone; so I had to excuse myself to receive the call since it was coming from the village; it was then I was informed that my younger brother was killed in the church during the attack,” said the police officer.
It was also learnt that the house of one Mr Baba John, a top aide of Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, was also set ablaze and in Kwada village during the attack. The police public relations officer (PPRO) in Borno State, Gideon Jubrin, said the command had not been able to confirm the incident when journalists called on him about 1:26pm yesterday.
“My attention was brought to the incident by a reporter and we have been battling to connect with our divisional headquarters in Chibok for details, but it seems all the communication networks are down or something. Presently we are in the office at the control room trying to get signal from Chibok or Askira Uba; as soon as we are able to do that we will get across,” said Mr Gideon.
Borno State governor Kashim Shettima, who was billed to travel yesterday, had to put off the trip as he received the news of the ongoing attack.
Boko Haram Others, Serious Threat To The World – Obama
United States president Barack Obama on Sunday morning said that Boko Haram and other terrorist groups were putting the United States and the entire world under a very serious threat.
Speaking in Washington, DC, President Obama added that the United States had been seriously threatened by these various terrorist organizations for his entire time in office and even since before the September 11, 2001, attacks which involved the late leader of the al-qaeda, Mr Osama bin Laden.
He also made it known that his administration would do all it could to ensure that all the terrorist groups across the world were decisively fought till the world is free from terrorism.
The American leader pressed further that the terrorists were gaining strength in some places, adding that his administration was trying to boost its response to terrorists trained in Iraq and Syria who, because of European passports, would have little trouble getting to the United States.
He stated: “We’re spending a lot of time, and we have been for years, making sure that we are improving intelligence so that we can respond to that. There are going to be times where we take strikes against organizations that could do us harm.”
However, the United States has scaled back its surveillance flights in the search for nearly 300 girls kidnapped earlier this year by Islamic extremists in Nigeria.
According to a statement obtained by our correspondent from the US Department of Defense, flights are now being conducted on an intermittent basis as other nations have increased their support and additional intelligence has been gathered.
Bauchi, Kaduna Killings: We’ll Bring Perpetrators To Book – Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday condemned bombings in the Bayan Gari area of Bauchi State and the mass killings of people in southern Kaduna, saying those responsible for the gory acts would be brought to book.
In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, the president directed “all relevant federal government agencies to continue to speedily make emergency medical and relief assistance available to all those who were either injured or displaced by recent bombings and attacks”.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP on Sunday reads in part: “The President commiserates with all the families who lost loved ones in the heinous attacks and extends his heartfelt sympathies to all those who suffered injuries or lost their properties during the wanton assaults on Bauchi and Kaduna states.
“President Jonathan reassures the people of Bauchi and Kaduna states that the Federal Government will continue to take all necessary action to apprehend the perpetrators of the dastardly attacks and restore the fullest possible security to all parts of the country.
“He urges all Nigerians to give maximum support and cooperation to the Armed Forces and security agencies who continue to work incessantly to end the menace of insecurity in the country within the shortest possible time.”
APC condemns terrorist attacks in Abuja, Bauchi
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has strongly condemned the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Abuja and Bauchi that killed at least 37 people and injured many more, calling the Boko Haram group suspected to be behind the attacks despicable and inhuman in its misguided terror campaign.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party repeated its earlier statement that nothing can justify the spilling of the blood of innocent citizens, while commiserating with the families of the victims. It called on the federal government to review its strategy for the fight against terrorism, saying whatever is being done now is definitely not working, hence the deadly terrorist attacks have almost become a daily affair.
“Whatever strategy being used by this federal government is not yielding enough positive results. Otherwise, these terrorists would not have gone from carrying out their attacks on the outskirts of a city like Abuja, for example, to exploding a bomb right in the heart of the city as was witnessed in Wuse 2 last week,’’ APC said. The party wondered in particular why Abuja has remained so vulnerable to such attacks, considering the millions of naira reportedly spent on the CCTV project that was supposed to help secure the city, asking: ‘’Or has this project again become a victim of the runway corruption and incompetence for which this administration is renowned?’’
The party said instead of reaching out across partisan lines as the opposition has suggested several times, the federal government has resorted to chasing shadows while the killing of innocent citizens intensifies”.
“The scorecard of this federal government in the fight against terror is very dismal. Some 76 days after over 200 girls were abducted from Chibok, the girls are not any nearer home today than they were on the day they were abducted, and all the clueless and ineffective administration of President Jonathan can do is to engage in image laundering that has caused the taxpayers US$1.2 million; witch-hunt the media as well as those perceived to be opponents of the administration and engage in a continuous and unprecedented abuse of national institutions.
‘’This administration could have pumped the US$1.2 million it frittered away in the name of image laundering in the US into the fight against terror, which seems to have waned. Unfortunately, as the president kicked-started his wasteful image laundering with an op-ed in The Washington Post, he was being skewered in another US newspaper, The New York Post. ‘’The paper’s (New York Post) Editorial Board wrote of the president’s newspaper diplomacy: ‘Remember, this is the same leader whose military initially claimed it had freed the girls, whose wife’s anger was directed at Nigerians protesting the government’s inaction rather than the kidnappers and who presides over Africa’s largest economy and fourth-largest armed forces’.
“There is no better demonstration of the fact that the administration has wasted public funds on a misbegotten image laundering than this,’’ it said.
APC also described the treatment meted out to pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj from the Maiduguri airport as another in a series of shadow-chasing by the government, which would rather misuse national institutions to flex muscles against innocent citizens than tackle the terrorists headlong.
The party said forcing the pilgrims to travel by road from Maiduguri to Kano to be airlifted is callous and poorly thought-out, considering the dangers they are likely to face on the road. ‘’The argument that the airlifting from Maiduguri was stopped at the last minute because of security is hogwash. Is that also the same reason that a private plane that flew into the same airport with eight people on board was forced to fly back empty after those who wanted to travel in it were prevented from doing so? Is it the same security reason that forced the closure of Akure airport even as planes that ferried APC leaders to the airport were on the tarmac? Is it also why newspapers were targeted across the nation?
‘’The truth is that the Jonathan administration is playing dirty politics with the fight against terror, using national institutions to abridge constitutionally-guaranteed rights,’’ it said.
APC advised the fdeeral government to stop wasting public funds on image laundering because no good advert can sell a bad product.
“This government should realize that its raison d’etre is the security and welfare of Nigerians, and that it has failed woefully in this regard.
“Therefore, it should be humble enough to admit its limitations and then reach out to all stakeholders, including those in the opposition, to rejig its anti-terror strategy and save our innocent citizens from the killings and maiming by Boko Haram,’’ the party said.
Why Nigerian Youths Join Boko Boko Haram – Report
A report by the United States Institute of Peace has given reasons why the Boko Haram terrorist group has been able to recruit many Nigerian youths.
The report made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday draws extensively from a larger study to examine youth radicalization and insurgent affiliation in Nigeria.
According to the report, unemployment, illiteracy, and weak family structures make or contribute to making young men vulnerable to radicalization while itinerant preachers capitalize on the situation by preaching an extreme version of religious teachings and conveying a narrative of the government as weak and corrupt.
The report further states that armed groups such as Boko Haram can then recruit and train these young people for activities ranging from errand running to suicide bombings.
The report also proffers solutions to the Boko Haram menace including monitoring and regulation of religious preaching, strengthening education, job training and creation programme, designing a robust programme to aid destitute children, promotion of peace education, and an invigorate anti-corruption campaign.
The report notes that addressing the conditions that make it possible for insurgents to recruit young men in Nigeria can significantly diminish the strength of the insurgency, if not eliminate it altogether.
Estimates of the death toll from Boko Haram attacks since 2009, the report states, ranged as high as 10,000 fatalities with the Boko Haram insurgents and other groups seemingly gaining in strength.
The report however states that the views it has expressed did not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which, it says, does not advocate specific policy positions.