by Kolapo Olapoju
In the last month, the Islamic terrorist sect, Boko Haram has forcefully spread its tentacles beyond its strongholds in the forest to capturing towns and communities. From overunning and eventually declaring an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, the militants have without a doubt gained the upper hand in the war.
The sect, emboldened by their capture and subsequent defence of Gwoza from the Nigerian troops, went further to overrun many more towns, expanding its reign of terror in northern Nigerian.
While the Cameroonian troops has been able to repeatedly take on and record victories over Boko Haram, in Nigeria, opposite is the case, with the sect capturing Buni Yadi, Gwoza, Gamboru Ngala, Damboa and Marte in Borno, while in Adamawa, in a mere five days, the militants seized Gulak, Bara, Madagali and Banki.
All the captured towns in both Adamawa and Borno have a total population of 708,620, most of whom have been displaced, while a chunk of them have lost their lives in the attacks, which saw their lands fall to the Boko Haram insurgents.
The objective of the sect as announced by its leader, Abubakar Shekau, is to establish an Islamic caliphate in large portions of northern Nigeria, with a long term view of bringing the entire country under Islamic rule.
So far, the sect seems to be operating based on a timeline, especially going by its recent activities. The fallen towns in Borno were captured in the month of August, while in September, the sect has taken five towns in Adamawa state, a clear sign that it intends to intensify its effort in the month of September.
On Saturday, 6 September, Secretary to the Government of Adamawa state, Prof. Liman Tukur, confirmed the capture of Gulak and Madagali.
The terrorists stormed Gulak, early on Saturday, going from house to house, shooting and attacking residents of the community.
Sabo Lukas, an eyewitness to the attack, who escaped to the Adamawa state capital Yola, told Reuters that although he could not give an estimate for those killed, he had seen several bodies.
Lukas said, “As am talking to you they are still there killing people.”
Former Special Adviser to the President on Politics, Dr Ahmed Gulak and acting Governor of Adamawa State, Adamu Fintiri, both reportedly lost properties, which were burnt down by the militants during the attack on Gulak.
The Senator, who represents Borno Central, Ahmed Zannah, while speaking to newsmen after the attack, lamented that the insurgents are gradually nearing Maiduguri, Borno state capital.
The senator alerted the military that members of the Boko Haram are using Bama to draw out the Army from Maiduguri so that they can now penetrate the town, which has so far remained impregnable.
Meanwhile, the youths in the affected states, having apparently lost faith in the ability of the Nigerian Armed forces to protect them from the terror of the Boko Haram terrorists, has decided to defend their territory by personally taking on the sect, even if it means losing their lives in the process.
According to Mr. Moses Zakwa, the President of Kibaku Youth Association of Nigeria (a community in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State), the youths have lost confidence in the military, hence, it has no option than to fight.
He said, “We are fully in support of the action of the youths in Maiduguri. The people of the state have lost confidence in the military, especially with the recent happenings. And as the citizens of the area, it would be better for us to stand up and defend our land.”
“That is what is going on there now. As we know, most of the major towns have been captured by Boko Haram and we believe that they are planning more attacks on more locations that we consider to be safe. That is why the youths are ready and prepared to go after them and to defend the area,” he added.
Nigeria’s military forces on Friday, 5 September vowed to defeat the insurgency amidst news that the town of Gulak, Adamawa State has just been overran by Boko Haram militants.
Major General Chris Olukolade, Defence spokesman, said that there is a “sense of apprehension” in the counter-terrorism efforts in the north-east of the country.
He reiterated the pledge and commitment previously made in a briefing to the Joint Committee on Defense of the National Assembly that everything would be done to curb the menace of the sect and defeat the terrorists outright.