Battle for Borno: Army and Boko Haram fight for the soul of Maiduguri

by Kolapo Olapoju

According to reports, Nigerian forces were engaged in a firefight with Boko Haram insurgents just outside Borno, the capital of Maiduguri on Friday, 12 September.

Maiduguri residents say the battle started when the army engaged the militants to repel them from attacking the city. They also said they heard gunfire and explosions coming from the direction of Konduga and later saw army troop carriers heading there.

The Boko Haram militants have overrun a string of towns and villages in the area in recent weeks.

Musa Sumail, a human rights activist in Maiduguri, told the Reuters news agency that, “Some people came from Konduga, they told us the army are in control.”

He said military helicopters were flying over the Borno state capital, which has filled up with tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Boko Haram forces advancing from the north, east and south of Maiduguri in the last few weeks. Thousands more have fled Maiduguri westwards towards Damaturu for safety.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s defence headquarters, recently labelled such reports as “alarmist” in a statement on its Twitter account @DefenceInfoNG. The defence HQ said, “All Facets of Security Arrangements for the Defence of Maiduguri has been upgraded to handle any planned attack.”

“Situation in Mubi, Michika, Bazza, Gulak, Gwoza, Bama, Gamboru Ngala & other parts of the North East is being stabilized,” the defence headquaters said in its Tweets, but it provided no more information on the operations.

Voicing a counter opinion, the Borno Elders Forum, released a statement, criticising the efforts of the Federal Government in tackling the menace of the Boko Haram, especially in recent time, when they have stepped up their attacks.

“We are convinced that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not shown sufficient political will to fight Boko Haram and rescue us from the clutches of the insurgents which may ultimately lead to the total annihilation of the inhabitants of Borno,” the statement said.

Since Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared a caliphate in Gwoza last month, the sect’s attack pattern has changed, as it now seeks to take over towns in Adamawa and Yobe, hoisting its flag on local government buildings in several towns and villages.

Recently, the youths of the affected states have stated their loss of confidence in the ability of the Federal Government to effectively defend them from the terror attacks of the insurgents, which has seen them take up arms and defend their towns when attacked.

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