•Says FG determined to frustrate bid to hold Nigeria to ransom
•Military: Maiduguri-Damaturu road now closes 4pm
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
President Buhari yesterday commiserated with the families of victims of terrorist attacks in Maiduguri, Borno State, in which 30 people were killed.
He also pledged his administration’s commitment to perpetually frustrate the devilish operations of Boko Haram and end the insurgents’ goal of holding Nigeria to ransom.
The president’s condolences from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he is attending the African Union (AU) summit, came against the backdrop of the killing, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, of no fewer than 30 people in a Sunday night siege on Auno village located on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway in Borno State.
The president, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, condemned the “murderous and cowardly attack on innocent passengers by the Boko Haram terrorists near Maiduguri.’’
He said: “The commitment of this administration to protect the lives of Nigerians will not be derailed by the cowardly and indiscriminate violence against innocent people by Boko Haram terrorists.
“This administration is ever determined to frustrate their goal to hold Nigeria to ransom.’’
Buhari, who condoled with the government of Borno State, warned “that terrorists are clearly on a back foot and their days are numbered.’’
According to him, as members of the armed forces “continue to receive more hardware and intelligence to counter our current security challenges, the remnants of Boko Haram will ultimately be crushed.”
He added that “the peculiar challenges of asymmetric warfare notwithstanding, our armed forces are ever determined to defeat these enemies of humanity.”
Boko Haram Kills 30 in Borno
Eyewitnesses said the insurgents killed 30 people in the attack on Auno village located on Maiduguri-Damaturu highway in Borno State and abducted many others.
The villagers told the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, that 18 vehicles, comprising trailers, buses and cars, were burnt by the insurgents who laid a siege on their village at about 9.50 p.m. on Sunday.
However, the attack has prompted the military to order the closure of Maiduguri-Damaturu road by 4p.m. daily to prevent reoccurence.
The villagers, who were still in tears when the governor paid a condolence call on them yesterday, said an unspecified number of women and children were loaded into three buses and taken away by the insurgents.
The villagers lamented that most of those that were attacked could not get into Maiduguri on Sunday as the gate to the town was shut against them having failed to arrive before the 5p.m. deadline.
One of the villagers, who spoke on account of anonymity to journalists, said: “It is so sad as the Boko Haram seems to have targeted the people knowing that many would have to sleep in Auno as the gate to Maiduguri would have been shut against them by 5p.m.”
He said when the travellers arrived after 5p.m. the gate mounted by the military was closed and all vehicular movements had officially ceased.
The governor, who was visibly shaken when he saw the charred bodies of the victims of the attack, requested the military authorities to dismantle the Auno gate from its present position and move it further away from the village so that it would be more difficult for insurgents to gain access into the village.
He promised that the state government will assist those whose vehicles were destroyed in the attack as well as those whose goods were burnt alongside the vehicles transporting foodstuff and other wares into Maiduguri.
He, however, called on the people to remain calm and law abiding in the face of the challenges, promising that government will look for a way out of the situation.
Reacting to the attack, the Head of the military counter-insurgency operation in the North-East – Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole – Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, said the Maiduguri-Damaturu road would now close by 4p.m. in order to protect lives and property.
Adeniyi directed the closure to be moved forward to 4p.m, instead of 5p.m.
Though the residents of Auno had told the governor that 30 corpses were counted at the scene of the attack, Adeniyi told journalists at a press briefing that 10 persons were killed.
He said it had become dangerous to “ply and park vehicles” along Maiduguri-Damaturu road from 4p.m.
“We don’t want to see vehicles on this road between evening and night hours,” he stated.
He queried motorists and truck drivers on the businesses they have that they should park over 200 vehicles at Auno.
He noted that the closure of road was also to prevent Boko Haram insurgents from attacking commuters and communities along the 132-kilometre highway.
He attributed Auno’s attack to the excesses of drivers and transporters, saying that daily closures of the road will now be by 4p.m.
On the rescue of students, he said: “Yesterday (Sunday), Boko Haram came with 15 gun trucks along Maiduguri-Gubio road and in two minutes; they kidnapped three students of Government College, Maiduguri.
“The insurgents quickly fled the road but Lt. Col I. Yusuf mobilised other soldiers and pursued the terrorists.”
He said while engaging the insurgents, troops rescued the students without harm to them.
Adeniyi has also handed over the students to their parents.
He, however, warned school authorities against students wearing school uniforms on Sundays in insurgency-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
He added that the wearing of uniforms makes students vulnerable to terrorists and other suspected kidnappers.