Suspected Boko Haram terrorists on Sunday killed no fewer than 30 people, majorly late travellers in a Borno village.
Villagers said the victims arrived at the military checkpoint leading into Maiduguri after the 5pm closure of the gate and had no choice but to sleep in Auno, the neighbouring village on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway.
The villagers, while narrating their ordeal in the hands of the terrorist group on Sunday night to the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, said many persons were abducted.
They lamented that 18 vehicles comprising trailers, buses and cars were burnt by the insurgents who laid siege to the village about 9.50 pm on Sunday.
The villagers, who were still in shock when the governor visited them on Monday morning, said women and children were loaded into three buses and driven away.
The villagers lamented that most of those that were attacked were those that could not get into Maiduguri on Sunday as the gate to the town was shut against them having failed to arrive before the 5pm deadline.
One of the villagers, who spoke to journalists in confidence, 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 5pm.”
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 the insurgents to gain access into the village.
He said the Borno State Government would 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 to Maiduguri.
Buhari vows to crush insurgents
In his reaction, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday described the killings as “murderous” and “cowardly.”
Buhari, who vowed that his regime would continue to fight the insurgents until they were defeated, commiserated with the families of the victims.
“This administration is ever determined to frustrate their goal to hold Nigeria to ransom.
“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,” the President was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Mr Garba Shehu.
The President condoled with government of the state, warning that “terrorists are clearly on the back foot and their days are numbered.”
He added, “As our armed forces continue to receive more hardware and intelligence to counter our current security challenges, the remnants of Boko Haram will ultimately be crushed.
“The peculiar challenges of asymmetric warfare notwithstanding, our armed forces are ever determined to defeat these enemies of humanity.”
Rep faults military strategy
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives from Borno State, Satomi Ahmed, on Monday faulted the strategy adopted by the Nigerian military in its fight against insurgency in the North-East.
Speaking in an interview on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation monitored in Kaduna on Monday, Ahmed said the number of those killed by the insurgents was much, lamenting that many were burnt beyond recognition.
“It’s a huge loss. Nobody can tell you the exact number of the dead. Many were burnt beyond recognition inside their vehicles. It’s a big tragedy,” the lawmaker said.
Military blames victims
But the Head of the military counter-insurgency operation in the North-East (Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole), Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, blamed the victims, saying the Maiduguri/Damaturu Road would now close by 4pm in order to protect lives and property.
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 conference that 10 persons were killed.
The Army General said it had become dangerous to ‘ply and park vehicles’ along Maiduguri/Damaturu Road between 4pm and night.
He said, “We don’t want to see vehicles on this road between evening and night hours.”
He queried why motorists and truck drivers should park over 200 vehicles at Auno.
He noted that the closure of the road was meant 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, emphasizing that the daily closure of the road would now be at 4pm.
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 the 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 skillfully rescued the students without harm to them.
He however warned school authorities against students wearing school uniforms on Sundays in the affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
He said that uniforms make students vulnerable to terrorists and kidnappers.
Adeniyi handed over the students to their parents.
Killings justify calls for Buhari’s resignation – PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, in its reaction on Monday said the killings and the abduction of many women and children had justified its call on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to resign.
The PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Chief Diran Odeyemi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja said the rising insecurity in many parts of Nigeria was an indication that Buhari could not address insecurity and secure the lives and property of Nigeria.
Odeyemi said, “We have said it repeatedly that Buhari has lost it.
This latest sad event of kidnapping and killing is evidence and a call that he should resign. A president that came on the basis of protecting lives and property of citizens, a government that has spent trillions of naira on protecting citizens and yet we still have this kind of killing happening on a daily basis, there is no justification for him not to resign. He should resign. All Civil Society Organisations and all Nigerians should continue to echo what we have been saying that he should resign. Instead of insecurity to reduce, it is rather increasing under his regime. All the advice given to him to retire service chiefs have proved abortive. That means he is not even competent to handle security, economy and other governance issues.
“The position of the Northern Elders Forum has vindicated the PDP.
“It shows that the call on Mr President to resign and the vote of no confidence (on aBuhari) do not have party, religious or tribal sentiments but actual demand and factual situation on the ground.”
APC backs Buhari
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, has, however, said the party stands by the presidency despite the earlier call by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, for the President to resign.
Issa-Onilu said the APC-led Federal Government would do its best to end terrorism in the country.
“We have nothing to add,” he simply told our correspondent.
Recall that the presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, had in a statement said the call for the president’s resignation did not represent the opinion of the country.
Shehu accused Abaribe of character flaw saying he “unlocked the door to enable the escape of traitorous and treasonable suspects.”