There were indications that the ongoing military onslaught against members of the Boko Haram sect might have recorded some success as the curfew earlier slammed on parts of Borno and Yobe States was relaxed Monday.
But as Borno and Yobe got some breather, 200 troops arrived Yola, the Adamawa State capital, yesterday, with more troops expected to join them to enforce the emergency rule imposed on the state by President Goodlu ck Jonathan.
The president, however, got another endorsement on the state of emergency declared in the three North-east states from the ECOWAS Parliament, which described it as a necessary and legitimate measure to stamp out terrorism in Nigeria.
A round-the-clock curfew was slammed on 12 wards in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Saturday, even as many parts of the towns in the state experienced restricted movement between 8 pm and 6 am, while a curfew was in force in all parts of Yobe.
In a press statement by the Special Adviser, Press Affairs and Information to the Yobe State governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, the review of the curfew was necessitated by the return of peace to all parts of the state.
The statement read: “This is to inform members of the public that in view of the need to sustain the relative peace that all parts of the state currently enjoy, Governor Alhaji Ibrahim has approved an adjustment of the hours during which public movement is restricted around the state.
“Consequently, restriction on movement now starts from 6 pm to 6 am daily throughout the state with effect from today, Monday 20th May 2013 (yesterday).”
The statement said further: “The decision for this adjustment follows a meeting that the governor had with heads of law enforcement agencies in the state.
“He urges the general public to continue with the exemplary support and cooperation with security agents to ensure lasting peace in the state. The governor also urges the public not to relent in prayers to the Almighty Allah (SWT) for the restoration of peace in the state and the country in general.”
In some parts of Maiduguri, the curfew, which was imposed over 72 hours ago, had prevented the residents from having access to food, water and other basic amenities, as they had to stay behind closed doors.
In a press statement signed by the spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, the JTF said the round-the-clock curfew on 12 wards in Maiduguri had been reviewed to 7 am to 5 pm.
Musa advised all residents of the 12 wards to remain indoors once movement is restricted as the checkpoints were still in progress in the affected areas as well as other areas within the city.
However, the Nigerian Special Forces deployed to enforce the state of emergency continued to secure new territories yesterday and dislodged the Boko Haram insurgents from their bases.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, confirmed that the military had secured the environs of New Marte, Hausari, Krenoa, Wulgo and Chikun Ngulalo after destroying all the terrorist camps sited in the vicinity of these localities.
Olukolade said the troops were already interacting with the locals and residents assuring them of their safety and freedom from the activities of the insurgents.
“Terrorists fleeing towards Chad and Niger Republic are being contained as they have had encounters with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) in various locations towards the border.
“Advancing troops also observed a few shallow graves believed to be those of hurriedly buried members of the terrorist group,” he said.
The Defence spokesman also disclosed that in Maiduguri, about 120 terrorists were arrested as they organised the burial of one of their commanders who died in an encounter with the military on Sunday. He said that the arrested insurgents were in the custody of the JTF where they are being interrogated.
“Meanwhile, Defence Headquarters has observed the use of photographs purportedly taken in the areas covered by the operations and wishes to state that the photographs are questionable as they do not reflect any related reality of the social or geographical environment.
“This also makes the story they claim depicts Nigerians fleeing to Niger Republic and other countries doubtful. The media is advised to always strive to associate stories with accurate pictures in order to avoid misleading the public,” he said.
In Yola, the Brigade Commander of the 23 Armoured Brigade, Brigadier General Fatai Oladipo Alli announced that 200 troops arrived the state capital yesterday, stating that more troops would join them for the full implementation of the emergency rule imposed on the state last Tuesday.
However, as the troops arrived Adamawa, some inhabitants fled the state to neighbouring states where the emergency rule was not imposed. Mallam Musa Adamau, a meat vendor, told THISDAY at the Jumbutu motor park that he was fleeing the state because he did not want to be a victim of hostilities.
“If a soldier is killed in an area, anybody that is living in that area where the soldier is killed might encounter the wrath of the other soldiers, and many others are seen fleeing the state for the same purpose,” he said.
Alli while addressing the troops, who were singing war songs in preparation for their assignment in the state, urged them to conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism.
“I urge you to conduct yourself in this onerous national assignment with the highest level of discipline, professionalism, and abide by the rules of engagement and the code of conduct that will be given to you,” he told the soldiers.
He reiterated the rules of engagement and the purpose of their deployment to them, adding that they should ensure victory over the insurgency bedeviling the state and restore peace and order that had eluded Adamawa for a long time.
Alli disclosed that the troops would be deployed in all nooks and crannies of the state especially local government areas that share borders with neighbouring countries where attacks had been prevalent in recent times.
He also warned them against misconduct during operations and to respect the communities where they would be sent to in order to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties as the emergency rule lasted.
“The 200 troops sent to Yola is the first batch which marks the beginning of the deployment of more troops into the state for the exercise and l believe more troops are on their way to the state,” he said.
In the meantime, the ECOWAS Parliament has expressed its support for the declaration of emergency rule in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States as a necessary and legitimate measure to contain terrorism in Nigeria, adding that Nigeria must wage a successful war against terrorism in her territory before it can assist to curb terrorism and insurgency in the sub-region.
Speaker of the Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, relayed the stance of the legislature at the close of the 2013 First Ordinary Session of the Third Legislature of ECOWAS Monday.
He also expressed concern that unless member states worked more strategically to co-manage their borders, the porous nature of the borders would make it easy for the terrorists and insurgents to evade apprehension by security forces.
“It could make it easier for the merchants of death and pandemonium to slip into neighbouring states including some CEMAC member states, when the security agencies turn the heat on them, but only to return to their dastardly business when it is conducive again,” he said.
As terrorism is a transnational crime, which receives assistance across national borders, it is necessary that a Summit of Heads of State and Governments be convened to appraise the security situation and build better synergy in combating common enemies, Ekweremadu stressed.
He also restated opposition to every form of forcible takeover of governments, impunity, militancy, terrorism and insurgency in the sub region, promising to mobilise local and international support against such acts.
The ECOWAS Parliament also commiserated with the government and people of Nigeria over the passing of literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe.
“This is one death that shook the world because Achebe was not only the king of African literature, but indeed used his literary works to correct the wrong image cast on the continent around the world,” Ekweremadu who is also deputy speaker of the Senate added.
The ECOWAS Peace Ambassador, Ms. Hyeladzirra Banu, in her address, said young people engaged in social vices due to idleness caused by lack of employment.
This has also made them prone to being used as pawns for religious or political crises, she observed.
"Africa has the youngest population in the world, the number of Africans aged between 15-24 will double to 400 million by 2045.
“According to the Africa Development Bank, the current rate of job creation will not keep pace with population boom, which means that a majority of young people will be unemployed,” she warned.