The Presidency friday for the first time openly declared that the current military insurgency in some parts of the North-east â€œis an indication that Nigeria is at warâ€ and called for the cooperation of all Nigerians to bring the war situation to an immediate end.
Also Friday, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State had to hurriedly leave Shuwa Village in Madagali Local Government Area of the state when reports filtered in that members of the extremist Boko Haram sect were on their way to attack the village.
Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs said:
â€œWe are facing a major problem in the North-east. We are in a war and there is no gain saying that fact. Iâ€™m willing to admit that we are in a war situation. Definitely, in a war situation, all sorts of things do happen. You can even see that in the centenary celebrations that we were doing yesterday; virtually every speaker who spoke mentioned the issue of insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria, said.
He said that the war against the Nigeria state by the Islamic sect was very serious as they have adopted the style of â€œattacking the vulnerable – women, children and the agedâ€.
He added: â€œWe are dealing with a very serious enemy and until and from what we have learnt now, I believe very strongly that we are in the dying phase of this insurgency. If you look at it from the beginning, there were about 11 states of the federation where these terrorists attacked and they more or less held sway.
â€œBut somehow, our people have managed to push them back. It has been difficult. I mean there was a time they were striking in Abuja at will. Every Sunday, people were even afraid of going to church but today all that has stopped.
â€œI have the greatest of respect for the Nigerian Military. They deserve that respect because when you want to judge a person or an organization you check their history and record. And you know, when you check the history of Nigerian Army in Nigeria and elsewhere where they have gone to do peacekeeping and UN support for internal problems in other countries, they have done extremely very well.
â€œI believe that they are professional men and women. I believe that they have the competence to handle this issue and I believe that over the time, they have acquired better training and better equipment but we are dealing with a very serious enemy here. Let us accept it.â€
Nyako was in Shuwa to commiserate with the residents who were attacked by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect on Wednesday, when the stampede occurred.
An eyewitness account had it that after the governor had addressed the displaced persons and was about leaving, two gunmen in military uniform emerged from nowhere and shot twice into the air, thus causing the stampede.
He said the gunmen shot into the air to alert the governor and his men that members of Boko Haram were coming to attack the village and “people also started shouting that members of Boko Haram sect were coming.
The eyewitness added that the governor was immediately smuggled out by security aides for safety.
â€œSome of the vehicles in the governor’s convoy rammed into each other, but the damages were minimal. In the ensuing stampede, some people and top officials on the governor’s entourage sustained minor injuries. Some of the displaced people also sustained serious injuries while running for cover,â€ said the source.
Nyako who addressed journalists on his return to Yola narrated his own experience thus: â€œAfter addressing the villagers, some soldiers approached me as I was about to enter my car and said that Boko Haram members were coming. The soldiers were shouting â€˜they are here, they are here.â€™ So, I asked them: who? They said â€˜Boko Haram members are around.â€™ After that, one of the soldiers started shooting. So, the first thing we need to do naturally was to get out of the scene.â€™â€™
The governor told reporters that he was not scared by the threat, stressing that the plight of his people was of paramount importance to him.
Nyako added that what happened in Shuwa, Madagali shows how serious the threat to lives and property in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States were.
He reiterated his earlier call on the military hierarchy to deploy more military personnel, arms and ammunition to contain the scourge of the insurgency.
On the entourage of the governor were the Speaker of the stateâ€™s House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmadu Fintiri; Taraba State Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Abakasangha; Secretary to the Government, Kobis Thimnu, and some commissioners.
The threat to Nyakoâ€™s life yesterday came barely 48 hours after he came down very hard on the Boko Haram sect and how the federal government has been handling the crisis.
He had declared on Thursday that it was high time something drastic was done to contain the sectâ€™s scourge ravaging the North east region.
The governor who seemed exasperated by the attack in Michika on Wednesday, declared: â€˜â€™Enough is Enough,â€™â€™ stressing that the Boko Haram crisis was getting out of hand and needed new strategies to tackle it.
Also reacting to the threat to Nyakoâ€™s life yesterday, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) described as untrue, reports about the alleged attack on his entourage.
This was confirmed in a statement signed by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who also denied that he did not at any time and in any form grant interview to any other media organization on the directive by the Senate for the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to relocate to Borno State.
According to Olukolade, the truth is that Nyako visited Michika and Shuwa areas of the State to sympathise with the communities that were attacked by terrorists recently.
While returning, he said, the convoy came across a noticeable pandemonium which resulted from the alarm raised by some people who had mistaken a convoy movement of troops on patrol at Kirchinga village, for another impending attack by terrorists.
“In the ensuing stampede and confusion, people scampered into the bush ostensibly to escape from those mistaken for terrorists.
“The military authorities therefore find it necessary to put the records straight and call on residents to go about their normal activities while remaining vigilant. The operations in the North-east are being consolidated and every effort is made to stop the terrorists from continuing their atrocities in that part of the country”, he added.
In another development, Olukolade confirmed that more terrorists had been arrested while 13 of them died following a raid on their make-shift camp sited between Borno and Adamawa states.
He added that some of those who escaped from earlier raid have also been picked up in Maiduguri and environs.
Meanwhile, the 23 Army Brigade Command in Yola yesterday reviewed the curfew period imposed on Michika and Madagali local government areas of Adamawa.
A statement issued by the Army Public Relations Officer, Capt. Jafaru Nuhu, in Yola, noted that the review followed the recent upsurge of insurgent attacks in the affected areas.
It quoted Nuhu as saying that â€œthe curfew is now from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m each day instead of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further noticeâ€.
Nuhu solicited for the support and cooperation of the people of the state in reporting any suspicious person and movement to the nearest security post.
In the same line, the Governor Chibuike Amaechiâ€™s faction of Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum (NGF) friday called on the federal government to rethink its strategy in combating the Boko Haram insurgency in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
The NGF added: â€œOf course, the federal and state governments should not be left alone to fight the terrorists. Citizens need to help our security agencies with accurate and timely information. We are alarmed by the slaughter of 29 pupils at the Federal Government College in Yobe and the unprovoked attacks against defenseless people in those states.â€