Security sources and locals residing in communities outside most of the Local Government Areas in northern and some other parts of central and Southern Borno State in Northeast Nigeria have revealed that there are still towns and villages under the control of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, and Islamic State for West African Province also known as ISWAP.
Sani Adam Malumfatori, a resident of Maiduguri told Our Source that, “These Local Government Areas include: Abadam, Gwoza, Guzamala, Kalabalge, Magumeri, Gubio, Marte, Damasak and Dikwa in Borno State as well as Yunusari and Gaidam in Yobe state. Our Source gathered that people living those villages or crossing from one town to another or from one local government to another still pay taxes to the terrorists who normally block the road against travelers.”
He said although local government headquarters seem secured, the same cannot be said of towns and villages under them.
International NGO officials working in Borno State have also said that there are areas, particularly in the northern Borno and the Lake Chad area where activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP is still showing red and they are not expected to carry out any activity there for the safety and security of aid workers. He said those areas are ”no-go areas”
“Despite the fact that there are no incidents in Maiduguri, the non-state actors have been very much active outside Maiduguri. There are hundreds of people in need of food and medications that cannot be reached particularly in the Lake Chad region due to the increasing activities of AOG (Armed opposition Group),” a security official with one of the INGOs in Borno said.
Our Correspondent reports that earlier this month ISWAP, a terrorist organization, which broke out from the mother body – Boko Haram in 2016 declared that a new union of ISWAP-Boko Haram terrorists’ group has reshuffled its leadership and structures.
This followed the death of some top commanders in a battle with the Nigerian military who are currently on clearance operations in most towns and villages across Borno State.
According to the sources with close information about the group, “the leadership ‘restructuring’ was in line with a directive from ISIS headquarters in Iraq, which was resulted from the recent losses of some of ISWAP-Boko Haram commanders to military offensives, and the realignment of forces by the hitherto separate insurgents groups.”
There were also videos being circulated to the effect that the two warring groups in northeast Nigeria have come together to pursue a common cause. Their fighters carrying AK47 rifles and other dangerous weapons have spoken in such videos and have warned residents and other religions in the region.
The terrorist organization has also claimed to have in their restructuring, appointed governors to rule some areas of their occupation. The Lake Chad region was one of such places a governor was said to have been appointed by the group to govern.
The situation within Borno State has degenerated recently due to the activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP. The State for example has been in total darkness in the last six months owing to the destruction of lines supplying electricity to the state by terrorists.
On Monday, Chairman of the Borno State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Usman Mahdi Badari decried the level of inflation and insecurity in the State while with the state working committee, calling on the authorities to do the needful to save the state.
Adam Guzamala, a member of the ruling party, APC, in Borno State on Tuesday told Our Source that his Local Government Area is still under the occupation of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram/ISWAP.
“All you need to know that all is not well is to go round the IDP camps and ask yourself why the people are still in the camp. I believe this is also the reason the government is doing everything possible to see that no camp remains in Maiduguri. However, you can ask questions again: are these people being returned to their towns and villages, or are they being kept still in camps within the local government headquarters? This is politics, but it is unfortunate doing it with the lives of the common man,” he said.
Tijjani Kachallah, a resident of Rann in KalaBalge Local Government Area of Borno State said, while it is true that terrorists had claimed to appoint a governor in the Lake Chad region, it will be apolitical for the Governor of Borno State to agree with such claims.
“Even if I am the governor, I will not agree to any statement depicting a situation such as we have at hand. Zulum as the Governor of Borno State. If Boko Haram has their own Governor, it is not the governor of Borno State and they can have their own Boko Haram Governor; after all, they never claimed to pay allegiance to constituted authority,” Kachallah said.
A military commander who is not authorized to speak openly told Our Source that, whatever the position of the Borno State Governor in reacting to the questions about the claim of ISWAP, is a position any political leader will take.
“However, that is not to say that these bad elements are not in operation in the state. That is why the military is still fighting them and I assure you, we are winning the battle and the war. This is not something I can tell you will end today or tomorrow. You have been reporting this conflict for over a decade and I need not educate you on what is going on,” he said.
Modu Moromti, a political analyst in Borno State told Our Source that, “We have not been experiencing bombs and gunshots in Maiduguri like before, but life outside the state capital has not been easy for our people. Normally, if a governor visits a local government, a town, or a village in the state, you will see a crowd of people following him, particularly children. That can only happen in a time of peace.
“Today, the governor can travel anywhere within areas of conflict, but you can only see the crowd when he goes to share food in the IDP camps and not on a normal street. When he goes to the street; I don’t know whether you have been observing the photos of the governor in circulation. All you see is the governor and his few aides and the military who are giving him protection. This is not the situation in times of peace. However, politically speaking, I am 100% with the Borno State Governor’s position in reaction to questions you journalists are asking.”
Moromti also said that the claims that informed the reaction by the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum was not looked at deeply. “ISWAP in the said reports did not claim to have appointed a governor over Borno State. They said they have appointed a governor to oversee their activities within the Lake Chad region. Even the outlaws have a certain respect for constituted authority. And of course, Zulum cannot oversee the activities of terrorists. He can only ensure that they are brought to justice for the activities they are carrying out in the Lake Chad region, which is against the law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”