Says Boko Haram still controls villages, LGs in Borno
The Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, has called for urgent security measures to curtail the recent growth in activities of terrorist groups in the state.
Zulum, who received in courtesy, the Senate Committee on Army led by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, at the council chamber of the Government House in Maiduguri, expressed strong concern over the increasing presence of terrorists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in some parts of the state.
Zulum said: “Borno State has started witnessing the gradual return of peace to the state. This will not be possible without the support of the federal government. The service chiefs are giving us the desired cooperation. Indeed the current Theatre Commander and the GOCs have been giving their cooperation,” but, however, admitted that ISWAP was threatening to reverse the successes recorded.
“Honestly speaking, we have to do something about the operations of ISWAP in Borno State, if nothing is done to check them and chase them out, it may be bad not only for people of the North-East, but the entire Nation at large.”
The governor added that the “ISWAP fighters are better armed, better equipped, more intelligent and more sophisticated than Boko Haram, and they grow spontaneously. Hence, the need to pursue the ISWAP now.”
Zulum admitted that Boko Haram is still in control of some villages and local government areas in the state.
The governor acknowledged that peace is gradually returning to the state and emphasised the need for the army to redouble its efforts in order to secure Abadam and Guzamala Local Government Areas in Northern Borno, which Boko Haram seemed to be in control.
He said: “I am pleased to inform you that we have started witnessing a gradual return of peace, but more need to be done, because, presently, Guzamala and Abadam Local Government Areas are still under the control of Boko Haram.
“Although, the current service chiefs, the Theatre Commander, and indeed our General Officer Commanding 7 Division are up and doing. “We want to commend the military and other paramilitary personnel for their gallant efforts to see to the end of terrorism in this part of the country.
Just a few days ago, I received a security report that in some communities of Mandaragirau axis in Biu Local Government Area, there are reports that over 500 Boko Haram/ISWAP groups have been converging with over 300 motorcycles and even celebrating parties/marriages amongst themselves without confrontation.”
“ISWAP are more equipped, sophisticated, intelligent and dangerous as they grow from strength to strength. ISWAP are collecting taxes along major roads in Damboa and other axes in southern Borno. It is very unfortunate.
“But the good news is that about 11 local Government areas of Gwoza, Bama, Marte, Monguno, Kaga, Gubio, Mafa, Dikwa, Ngala and host of others are becoming more peaceful than before, and this could be attributed to about 20,000 surrendered members of Boko Haram who are now in our custody.”
He also spoke about the recent surrender by hundreds of repentant Boko Haram fighters, which he said was already resulting to some stability especially in the areas of agriculture.
He said that since the surrender of thousands of insurgents, farmers have increased access to farms by 700 per cent, noting that he supported the continued combination of military warfare, and political approach towards disarmament, de-radicalisation and safe reintegration.
Earlier, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, said they were at the Government House to commend Governor Zulum for the support he has been rendering to the army towards restoring peace to the state and nation at large.
He said: “Your Excellency, this is a Senate committee on Nigerian Army, and we are here on oversight, and to thank your excellency for the support that you have been giving to the Army, which they themselves (Army) have acknowledged.”
The Senate committee’s delegation included Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South; Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hassan Mohammed Gusau; Senator Kola Balogun from Oyo South Senatorial district, and Senator Bulus K. Amos from Gombe South.
Also on the committee’s visit were the Director Defense Liaison to the National Assembly, Brig. Gen. Sani Suleiman; Navy Captain Shehu Mohammed Tasiu and Deputy Director Defense Liaison to the National Assembly, Mr. Lawal Sani, who is clerk of the Committee, and Akikomi Baba Tunde Johnson, Deputy Clerk.