- Cautions leaders against inflammatory utterances
- Boko Haram abducts 100 people in Kukawa, Borno
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri, John Shiklam in Kaduna and Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday urged the federal government and states in the northern region to take all measures to end the wave of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping ravaging the North.
It also asked religious, traditional and political leaders in the region to refrain from making wild and inflammatory utterances that will aggravate tensions arising from the pervasive insecurity in the region.
The forum expressed concerns about the worsening living conditions of the people, saying life is now as tough as it was during the civil war.
ACF spoke just as Boko Haram insurgents reportedly overrun Kukawa, a town in Borno State, and abducted over 100 persons even as the military said it has stepped up efforts to curtail the insurgency, leading to the killing of some Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) commanders and the destruction of logistics facilities at Bukar Meram on the fringes of the Lake Chad in Borno State.
The ACF, in a communiqué issued yesterday in Kaduna after the first meeting of its newly-elected National Working Committee (NWC), headed by a former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, urged the federal and state governments to take urgent measures to ensure the protection of lives and property.
“The federal and state governments must take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria, which has led to insurgency, terrorism, banditry, ethnic and religious disturbances all over the north,” it said.
The communiqué, signed by the spokesman of the forum, Mr. Emmanuel Yahweh, called on the government, particularly state governments in the region, to pay adequate attention to agriculture, which offers more opportunities for diversification and the development of a more sustainable economy for the North and the country.
The forum also noted that school enrollments in the region have remained low and urged governors of the 19 states in the region to take urgent steps to enhance school enrollment and eradicate the rampant incidence of street begging, which is very unhealthy for the overall development of the North.
The ACF said: “Northern states should take advantage of the N75 billion loan to farmers in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
“Unemployment has become a big menace to the northern region. State governors are advised to design employment schemes for our teeming youths who have become frustrated and pose an additional threat to the security of the North and the country.
“State governors are also advised to key into programmes of the federal government designed to offer employment to the youth and alleviate poverty.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, Ogbeh, who presided over the meeting, had regretted the inability of the executive committee to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said some Nigerians mistook the ACF to be an ethnic, tribal, religious or a political organisation, which he said is not.
He said: “We have over 300 tribes in the North and we cannot afford to be an ethnic organisation. Seventy eight per cent of Nigerian land mass is in the North and we are faced with the problems of killings day and night, which are greater than ever, except during the civil war.
“Our responsibility now is greater than before. We have not faced this challenge before – killings day and night.
“At no time has life been so tough except during the civil war.”
According to him, the ACF is not a political party but an organisation working for peace and stability in the North.
“If we do not save the North now, we will lose the North,” Ogbeh stated.
Boko Haram Abducts 100 in Borno
Boko Haram insurgents have overrun Kukawa, a town in Borno State, abducting over 100 persons, security sources have said.
According to sources in the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), who spoke anonymously to THISDAY, the insurgents drove in over 20 trucks to the town on the shores of Lake Chad.
One of the sources said yesterday that the terrorists launched their entry into the town with sporadic gunshots, engaging the Nigerian troops stationed in the town for over 30 minutes.
He said at the end of the gunfight, the insurgents went away with over 100 persons as hostages.
“Around 4 pm on Tuesday, terrorists in about 20 trucks overran the town of Kukawa. They engaged soldiers guarding the people in a ferocious firefight.
“After about 30 minutes of engaging the military in ferocious fire exchange, they (insurgents) were able to overpower them and went away with over 100 hostages,” he said.
The latest abduction may have impaired plans to relocate internally-displaced people (IDPs) to their homeland as the residents of Kukawa were just relocated on August 2.
The residents were escorted during the relocation by the military as part of the resettlement plan of the state government.
When contacted, the spokesman of Borno State governor, Mallam Isa Gusau, said he did not have the details of the attack.
The spokesman of the Army, Col. Sagir Musa, asked for patience, saying that the military will soon come out with a statement on the incident.
But the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), in a statement yesterday, said the military successfully neutralised some ISWAP commanders and knocked out logistics facilities at Bukar Meram on the fringes of the Lake Chad in Borno State. The troops also killed some terrorists at Dole, a settlement in the southern part of the state.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, DHQ, Maj. Gen. John Eneche, said in the statement that the air interdiction missions were executed on August 17, on the heels of credible intelligence reports indicating a resurgence of terrorists’ activities in the two settlements.
“Bukar Meram, a major ISWAP logistics hub linking other island settlements of the Lake Chad, which also houses several of their fighters and some of their key leaders, was attacked by an enhanced force package of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets and helicopter gunships, which hit designated targets in the area, leading to the destruction of the logistics facilities and neutralisation of several of the terrorists and their leaders.
“The attack at Dole was carried out after Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions showed a build-up of activities in the area after the relocation of some terrorists from nearby settlements of Kukawa and Yale. Overhead the area the ISR aircraft spotted no fewer than 20 terrorists in the area, which were taken out by the NAF attack aircraft,” Eneche stated.
Masari Blames Bandits’ Informants for Worsening Insecurity
In a related development, Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, has blamed the continued killings in the state on informants who support the bandits and kidnappers to unleash mayhem on the state.
He said the informants had undermined efforts of security operatives and government in stemming the banditry and other nefarious activities bedeviling the state.
Masari, who was speaking when he received the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, at the Government House yesterday, described the informants as being worse than the hoodlums.
The emir, accompanied by other notable Kano traditional rulers, was in Katsina State on a familiarisation visit to the state government and emirates within the state.
Masari said: “Most of the bandits who launched attacks on villages in the state received information from people within the communities and this made it difficult for security agencies to operate effectively.”
He, however, reiterated his earlier pledge of recreating village security councils across the 361 wards and local government security councils in the 34 local government areas of the state.
He explained that the security councils would assist security agencies and government with information to eliminate the miscreants.
Earlier, Bayero had condoled with the government and people of Katsina State over the security challenges facing the state.