Matthew Onah writes on the gruesome Boko Haram attacks on the residents of Adamawa State that has now left Mubi, a border town and commercial nerve centre of the state in Limbo
Mubi, a vibrant commercial city on the border of Nigeria and Cameroon hosts the largest cattle market in West Africa. Popularly called “Mubi Sabon Dale,” which is translated trade fair centre, or “center of BAZAAR’’ is a land noted for its peace, progress and a highly promising place, where visitors were guaranteed opportunities.
Apart from the international cattle market, Mubi being a border town - less than 20minutes drive from the nearest Cameroon town - serves as a staging post for smugglers, who trade in almost all things imaginable. A serene atmosphere with good vegetation and inspiring location between the low and high lands, it hosts three major tertiary institutions; the decade old Adamawa State University, the Federal Polytechnic, and the Adamawa State College of Health Technology.
There are also over ten secondary schools spread across the two local government councils of the area.
But today, Mubi town is in a wreck. It is a shadow of its former self. The hustling and bustling of this once vibrant commercial city is gone. The recurring insecurity of lives and properties being experienced in Mubi is responsible. The socio-economic life of Mubi residents is precipitous through the handi-work of ‘unknown gunmen’, who have put the fleeing residents in an apparent state of tears, tension and apprehension.
Although, Adamawa State remains the most stable in the entire north-eastern part of the country, its peace has been tested by the dastardly activities of Boko haram sect notorious for its killings of innocent and unarmed citisens.
In December 2011, just a few days before Christmas, some Gunmen suspected to be the Boko haram sect attacked a church, the Christ Apostolic Church, Nasarawo parish in Jimeta during a Friday night prayer session, killing over 12 worshippers. Another group simultaneously shot and killed four persons in another incident in Lamourde, about 80 kilometres away from the State capital. This brings the total number of persons killed in Adamawa State in two days by the sect, to over 29.
In the killing spree, another 13 persons lost their lives in similar attack on a Thursday following the attack on the worshippers during the Friday night prayers by members of Christ Apostolic Chuch in Mubi town.
To nip in the bud the killings that has become a daily occurrence, Adamawa State governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako, in a broadcast placed a reward of N25 million for any person or group that will give information leading to the arrest of the culprits. But as the days pass by, the reward is yet to be claimed. There has been no information from the residents.
As a result of the apprehension after the reign of terror towards the end of December 2011 thousands of business owners from South-Eastern states, mostly Igbos, fled from different parts of Adamawa state, especially MUBI.
John Ogbor, a manager of one of the luxury vehicle company at the park said they were been forced to over-stretch the capacity of the buses because of the rush to get out of the State by the people. He told THISDAY that they had to divert vehicles from other parts of the country to contain the rush. In Mubi, most business premises remained closed and streets deserted. The church services are now recording scanty attendance, inspite of the heavy police guard at the various churches and the heavy patrol by a combined team of soldiers and the police.
Earlier in August 2011 , another group of gunmen attacked two police stations and two banks in Gombi, another community in Adamawa State, leaving 16 persons dead, including seven police officers, a soldier and eight civilians.
In Adamawa, at least 60 security personnel including soldiers, policemen and men of the State Security Services have been lost in encounters with the Boko haram sect in mubi town in the last one year.
In march 2012, a police inspector , four soldiers and four other civillians were killed in a Monday night attack by unidentified gunmen in Mubi.
The current phase of terror started as the joint security taskforce, ‘operation restore sanity’ scored a major breakthrough in Adamawa killing one of the key commanders of the Boko haram sect named Abubakar Yola , alias Abu Jihad in a shoot-out with security operatives in the early hours of Monday last week in Mubi town.
Also arrested along with Yola are 156 persons in which four of them are believed to be the top unit commanders of the sect involved in the recent bombings of telecommunications base service stations in the State.
The security operatives had also rescued five women and six children in a house used as their main ammunition camp. Conducting pressmen round the enclave last Monday, the Brigade commander of 23rd armoured brigade, Brig. Gen. John Nwoaga, accompanied by the State’s Police Commissioner and the Director of SSS, said that the sect leader was shot in a fight with his men while resisting arrest.
He said that Over 300 improvised explosive devices already primed, 25 assorted brands of riffles that are mostly brand new AK 47, and submachine guns were recovered. Other items recovered according to him include, over 2000 daggers, swords bows and poisoned arrows.
The list of items in the bomb factory also show a huge quantity of bomb making devices which was stored at the large compound situated at Shagari low cost housing in Mubi.
He stated that security was compelled to impose a 24 hour security condone around the Mubi town for two days before they could track down the sect members.
According to a lecturer at the federal polytechnic Mubi who pleaded anonymity, it is this operation by the security agencies that triggered the current massacre of the over 46 students of the Polytechnic last Tuesday when the country woke up to the sad news of the killings.
It was indeed a black day for the inhabitants of Mubi town, as at least 46 persons, mostly students of three tertiary institutions, in the town were massacred in cold blood on independent-day night by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram.
The casualties , believed to be mostly students of the Federal Polytechnic, School of Health Technology and the Adamawa State University, all in Mubi, were shot dead in what was described by the spokesman of Federal polytechnic as a ‘’commando style attack’’. The spokesman of the Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Ibrahim Danladi told THIDAY in a telephone conversation said the shooting took place on the night of the Independent day around 10pm, when unknown Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram, opened fire on some students at Wuro Fatuje.
He stated that there was sporadic shooting which lasted for over one hour at Wuro- fatuje, a surburb of Mubi known to be heavily populated with off- campus students of the three institutions.
He said that the unknown gunmen invaded the area shooting sporadically at any moving persons, for over one hour. “There was heavy gun fire of different calibers around 10pm till 11pm, when it subsided’’.
He confirmed that 26 students of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi are amongst the casualties, while the other casualties are students of the other two sister institutions.
The corpses of the slained students have since been deposited at the Mubi General Hospital.
Last week, the Adamawa state government stated that it would provide succor for the victims of the senseless killings in Mubi, even as it appeals for calm, saying the security agencies are on top of the situation. According to the State’s Deputy Governor, Mr. James Ngillari, who led a delegation of the government to the scene of the attack the state government would do everything possible to provide balm to sooth the pains of the victim of the attack.
The activities of terrorist organisation in Mubi has necessitated a heavy incursion of military troops that has now impeded movement of people and reduced social life to nothing. It is believed that about two battalions of the 23rd armoured Brigade, based in Yola and Biu in Borno State are now in Mubi to destroy the stronghold of Boko Haram.
Like the December 2011 and the August 2012 reign of terror, the survivors are fleeing in droves .
Most of the victims , who are lecturer and students were seeing moving out of the town in trailers and trucks. One female student who pleaded anonymity narrated how the attackers raided their hostel. “the attackers who were about seven, asked us the females to submit our cell phones to them after which we were asked to lie prostrate on the ground and that we should not talk claiming they were not after the female students but the male students. They shot sporadically into the air after which our male colleagues were tracked down to their rooms and were asked to come out. The assailants later shot them to death.” She said.
According to security sources, most of the members of the sect are now seeking refuge in Mubi town due to the intensity of the activities of the security agencies in Borno and Yobe States.
The Madagali local Government Council Chairman in Adamawa State, Alhaji Chubado Tijjani Babbi, had alerted security operatives in the state about the massive immigration into the state by the almajiris, whom he said will constitute serious security threats to the border areas between Adamawa and Borno state, if quick measures were not taken.
Chubado, who spoke to correspondents in Madagali said that the Boko Haram incidences in Borno state was begining to impact negatively with beggars multitudes entry into Adamawa using illegal routes.
He stated that unless quick measures were taken on the perennial crisis, “inter border crimes will be on serious increase in the near future.” He adds: “the almajiris who have no definite homes and jobs would not only constitute broad security threats to unsuspecting indigenes but would be easily used by politicians to foment troubles.” Apparently the warning went unheeded.