AFRICNGLOBE – Determined to turn the tide against the terrorists Boko Haram, the Nigerian Army yesterday inflicted heavy casualty on the sect fighters who attempted to capture Konduga, a strategic town just about 35km to Maiduguri, killing over 100 and halting their match to Maiduguri.
The positive report from Konduga came on a day the President of the Senate, David Mark, challenged the Nigerian armed forces to brace up against the rampaging activities of Boko Haram and reclaim the communities taken over by the terrorists in the North-east.
A statement signed by Col. Timothy Atingha for the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), said the terrorists’ bid to overrun Konduga was met with a fierce response from Nigerian troops.
“At about 5.30am today, Boko Haram terrorists launched a massive attack on Konduga town, about 35 kilometres from Maiduguri. After about three hours of fierce fighting, Nigerian troops routed the Boko Haram killing over a 100 terrorists,” Atingha said.
He added that a lot of equipment were also recovered from the terrorist: “Three Hilux and one Buffalo vehicles with mounted Anti-aircraft guns, three General Purpose Machine guns, over 30 AK 47 rifles and two global positioning systems have been recovered.
He also confirmed that four Nigerian soldiers were wounded during the battle. Atingha assured: “The morale of troops remain very high, while the entire area is still being combed for terrorists who may have escaped with bullet wounds.”
He also said that the photographs taken at the scene of the battle were being expected and would be forwarded as soon as they are received.
Youth vigilante groups were also said to have helped the military to repel the attack on Konduga. A member of the local vigilante group, Kolobe Abdullahi told journalists on telephone: “We couldn’t sleep yesterday as we all kept vigil in Konduga since we got hints that insurgents intend to attack us.”
He said they cooperated with the military by keeping vigil while awaiting the terrorists: “People sighted them when they were coming and they were seriously dealt with. As I am talking to you, more than 100 of them were killed and several others sustained injuries.”
Kolobe added: “We destroyed all their utility vehicles, some cars and motorcycles. We also seized some arms and vehicles.” A military source within the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri also confirmed on telephone that the insurgents were dealt a heavy blow.
A resident of Konduga, Abba Ali told journalists that what could have been a sad day for the people of the town was reverted as “we are now celebrating the killing of scores of Boko Haram.”
Ali added: “I think today is the happiest in my life. Boko Haram killed two of my brothers in their recent attack on Konduga but today, many of their bodies were all scattered on the streets. I salute the courage of our gallant soldiers and members of civilians JTF. We are ready for them. “Our people and the civilian JTF climbed trees and telecom mast to sight them in the morning and behold they were coming, hundreds in number, in Hilux vans and motorcycles and cars. The soldiers waited for them and when they came, they attacked them immediately. Alhamudllahi, we are so happy today.”
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) had on Thursday debunked the assertions by the Borno Elders’ Forum (BEF) that Maiduguri was under siege and had been surrounded by Boko Haram terrorists, thereby causing panic amongst the residents some of whom were alleged to have fled the city.
The military also assured Nigerians that the ongoing offensive through sustained aerial bombardment and complementary ground assault had helped to halt the terrorists’ advance with most of their structures and strongholds destroyed in North-east towns like Gwoza, Bama, Michika and others.
The forum had decried the horror, death, destruction and misery that had been visited on North-eastern Nigeria and particularly Borno State by Boko Haram, warning that the sect had strategised and completely surrounded the city of Maiduguri.
BEF further warned that it was apparent that the sect’s imminent target was to take the city of Maiduguri, noting that almost half of the population of Borno now resides in Maiduguri. However, the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-General Chris Olukolade, dismissed such statements as a design to create a sense of insecurity in the city. “The statement on Maiduguri was clearly intended to cause panic in the city and the nation,” Olukolade said.
He assured Nigerians that “all facets of the security arrangements for the defence of Maiduguri have been upgraded to handle any planned attack or attempt to disrupt the prevailing peace in the city and its environs”.
Mark Tasks Military to Reclaim Lost Territory… Mark tasked the military on Boko Haram during the graduation ceremony of the 61 Regular Course of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna. He said the nation was facing a critical moment in which “our peaceful and corporate existence is threatened by insurgency, terrorism and sheer criminality.” The President of the Senate, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, lamented that the war against terrorism was already having severe effects on the lives, finance and economy of the nation, regretting that “huge resources that would have been used for national development are now being diverted to fight insurgency and terrorism.”
He added: “We will never relent in keeping this country one. Ethnic, political, sectional and religious problems have complicated issues in Nigeria. The situation demands that all hands should be on deck to tackle the problem.”
Mark cautioned politicians against playing politics with the nation’s security and unity, noting that “politicians irrespective of ideological or party affiliation should remember that politics can only be played when Nigeria exists as a corporate entity and in peace.”
He berated those he said were fanning the embers of war and disunity, arguing, “Nigeria is not an accident. It has pleased the Almighty God to put us together as one and it is our solemn duty to nurture Nigeria to her full potentials.
“The future still holds greater promise if only we could put our differences behind us and work together as one people. With greater commitment and resolve, I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria will be one of the world’s super powers.”
He was also said to have assured the gathering that the National Assembly would continue to provide necessary support for the military in the war against terrorism just as he urged Nigerians to cooperate with the Armed Forces in the protracted war.
By: Michael Olugbode, Senator Iroegbu And Omololu Ogunmade