The Shehu of Bama in Borno State, Alhaji Kyari Ibn Elkanemi, Tuesday said his domain had now become the new haven for the Boko Haram sect, as the fleeing sect members have been invading the town, causing great havoc. He said the situation had become so worrisome that all the elites have fled the town, leaving residents who could not sleep at night and rest during the day at the mercy of the sect’s members and the sporadic gunshots, which incessantly rented the air. Elkanemi’s complaint, however, came as members of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North were greeted with gunshots in the troubled town.
Moments after the committee’s members arrived at the palace of the monarch to pay a courtesy visit, before setting out to tour the town, gunshots were heard around the palace of the monarch. The gunshots by the sect’s members were, however, greeted with the sporadic gunshots by the security operatives, who escorted the team to Bama. At the end of the gun duel, about five Boko Haram members were arrested with an unspecified number of deaths.
The committee, which was said to have earlier planned to take a tour of the town with visits to the prison, police and army barracks attacked in the siege of the sect on the town over a month ago, had to make a detour, when the gunshots persisted. Aside from the gunshots, the members of the committee were equally greeted with a despicable picture of a deserted and desolate town, as many building were under lock and keys.
The streets of the town, which have a population of about 500,000 persons were deserted, as many fled the town ostensibly for fear of being attacked. Speaking on the development, leader of the committee and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Mr. Kabir Taminu Turaki, said the streets of Bama, which used to be a commercial town were “deserted and looks more like a ghost town.” He said they were in the town to express their condolences for the loss of lives and property, adding that: “We are willing to dialogue with the sect, we believe that though they have taken arms against the nation we still allow for dialogue and peace.
But that is not to say the federal government does not have the capacity to protect its citizens.” He urged the sect’s members to embrace dialogue and peace, stressing that: “If they say they respect the teaching of Holy Prophet Mohammed they will embrace peace and dialogue.” Earlier, the Shehu of Bama had praised President Goodluck Jonathan for setting up the committee, noting that it was a right decision which could lead to the resolution of the crisis. He said: “As the chairman of the committee was speaking we heard gunshots, we have been like this for the last three weeks. We cannot sleep at night and rest during the day.
” The monarch expressed dismay that the fleeing Boko Haram members have made Bama their new haven and constantly harassed residents, stressing that Bama, which was close to Cameroun, “have made us to understand that Bama is hard to secure against the movement from neighbouring Cameroon.
” The monarch stated that there were 64 outlets, which lead out of Bama, stressing that: “There is no more elite in Bama because some of them have been visited with the threat to either leave their jobs or be killed.” Elkanemi said: “We need checkpoints at every nooks and crannies of the town as the fleeing Boko Haram from Maiduguri have all come to Bama to make life difficult for us”, noting that: “Some people were arrested today before the committee came to town, some were even shot that were ready to cause problem.”