The polity was wrapped in outrage, yesterday, as the identities and details of how a baby, a female Mass Communication student of the University of Maiduguri, UNIMAID, and scores of others were massacred by Boko Haram insurgents, who ambushed motorists and passengers at Auno village, near Maiduguri, Borno State, on Sunday night, emerged.
The dead included a baby and its mother, a female student of University of Maiduguri, simply identified as Fatima. Some of the victims were burnt beyond recognition by the attackers. A woman was raped and her new born baby’s head was crushed to death, before they were burnt in the ensuing inferno.
The village was deserted, yesterday, when Vanguard visited. Some stakeholders have blamed the military for the carnage and urged them to compensate the victims just as former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, called for a second look at possible ways to end Nigeria’s war against the Boko Haram insurgency.
With Nigerian Army Commander, General Abdul Kalifa Ibrahim, attributing the mayhem to guerilla tactics adopted by the insurgents, Organised Labour urged the military to change its strategy and win the war.
Death toll now over 40
Initial accounts said 30 people died in the Auno attack. However, a vigilante, Yusuf Isa Kazalma, told Vanguard that the attack left no fewer than 40 people dead, including six insurgents and four civilians whose corpses were recovered in the bush during clearance operations on Monday. The motorists and passengers who were denied entry into Maiduguri for failing to meet the 5pm stipulated time set by security operatives, elected to pass the night at Auno village.
Unfortunately, they were attacked by terrorists suspected to have came from Alagarno axis of Sambisa Forest.
Kazalma said the massacre started at about 9:50pm. Located along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, Auno is seven kilometres away from Maiduguri city centre and five kilometers from the newly established Borno State University campus.
This is even as another Boko Haram attack took place on Monday night in Tungushe village located along Maiduguri-Monguno road. Fortunately, this time, sources said, troops were able to repel the attack with the terrorists having casualties
Governor Babagana Zulum, who visited the scene on Monday morning, was shocked to have discovered that no fewer than 30 people lost their lives with 18 vehicles, shops and residential houses set ablaze, lamenting that the disaster could have been averted, if the military did the needful
The Theatre Commander, Major Gen Olusegun Adenyi disputed the figure and put the death toll to 10 at Press briefing on Monday.
Said Zulum: “We have to be brutal in telling the truth. I am pushed to the wall to say the truth. Since I was inaugurated as governor of Borno State, Boko Haram has attacked Auno six times. Another thing is that the military has been withdrawn from Auno town.
“I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeals for the military to establish their unit in Auno. They are here but as soon as it is 5 pm, they close the gate and lock the people and go back to Maiduguri.”
Military must compensate families of Borno carnage – Kaka Bolori
Bemoaning the attack, former chairman of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, MMC, Kaka Bolori, said military authorities must compensate families of those killed by terrorists at Auno village.
“There was no justification for the military to block the Damaturu-Maiduguri road, deny commuters passage, leaving them vulnerable to attack at night without any help from anywhere.
“It is unthinkable for the soldiers to ask hundreds of people to lay over at Auno when everyone knows the place is not safe. “More widows and orphans were created on that day. This sad event has further increased the humanitarian challenges our people are facing.
“The commanders that gave the directive for the travelers to be held hostage must be brought to book. In addition, the military must compensate families of the victims killed, must shoulder the bills of those injured and those who lost their valuables must also be fully compensated. There is no wisdom in blocking highways and subjecting commuters to all kinds of dangers,” Bolori said.
Also, Abba Masta, a strong advocate for peace and good governance, also said: “So long as failures are not visited fully with ‘dire’ consequences, we will sadly, but truly continue to wallow in many more of the avoidable incidents such as Auno’s (God forbid).
“It is very unfortunate that five years into the change government that Nigerians overwhelmingly supported, the issue of Boko Haram still lingers.’’
Former Deputy Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal, described the incident as callous, heinous, uncalled-for and against humanity.
“I commiserate with the victims’ families, Borno State government under the leadership of Professor Babagana Umar Zulum, and, indeed, the good people of Borno over the avoidable incident. I urge the good of people Borno Continued from Page 8
and indeed the nation to be dedicated in prayers for the total end to inhumane activities of any form from individuals or groups. I also pray for our gallant military and other security agencies in their efforts in winning the war against terrorism in our dear state, Borno, and indeed across the country.’’
A university teacher, Dr Musa Usman, attributed what happened in Auno and other places to total negligence.
“It pains every Nigerian that a government that promised to secure the nation has failed to do so. There are so many questions begging for answers as regards this insurgency. The Maiduguri-Damaturu highway is not a meandering slop with sharp turns. It is a straight road with open space.
“At this time of the year, the area lacks any iota of vegetation. The road is not on the path of a thick forest. And the road, if I am not wrong, is less than two hours’ drive.
“If the Federal Government cannot secure this little stretch of road, then we are in a big quagmire. It is sad that security forces cannot comb the areas around the road for the insurgents. Despite huge resources, the military cannot develop a mechanism to check the antics of the insurgents. What pains us the most is the fact that nobody is going to be held responsible.
“No empathy from the Federal Government. And the situation is the same across the country, killings everywhere! If there is a conspiracy to thwart the gains of the Buhari government, as some diehards will say, what is the government doing to unravel the conspiracy?
“The buck stops on the table of the government. We deeply regret returning this government to power. As it stands now, as it has always been, we will lick our wounds, tend to our injured and bury our dead. But God is watching! All those with hands in this calamity will pay for their sins. All those whose irresponsibility keeps this cycle of violence going will equally answer for their inactions,” he said on his Fcaebook page.
Insurgents attack in 6 gun trucks
Sources said the terrorists came in six gun trucks for the first attack, contrary to claims by the Theatre Commander that the insurgents came on motorcycles, dropped their members near the surrounding bushes before launching the deadly attacks.
Later on sources said “18 trucks loaded with armed insurgents joined the first team as reinforcement and wreaked havoc.
A veteran journalist (name withheld) in Maiduguri said “It’s indeed a black and obnoxious Monday for us in Borno and the entire North-East. One cannot estimate the kind of pains families of the victims are passing through. May souls of the departed rest in peace. My heart is still bleeding because heads will not roll, nobody will take responsibility for this grave failure and national embarrassment”.
Army commander blames carnage on guerilla tactics of insurgents
A Nigerian Army Commander, General Abdul Kalifa Ibrahim has assured that the military has intensified efforts to apprehend the dreaded Boko Haram leader, Shekau, saying, “by the grace of Allah,we will be victorious.”
General Ibrahim spoke in an interview on the Voice of America, VOA, Hausa Service monitored by journalists in Kaduna, yesterday.
Speaking on the latest carnage along the Damaturu-Maiduguri road, the Army Commander said: “The truth is that people had moved freely without any problem but as I have told you, these insurgents engage in guerilla warfare. But still, there are methods adopted by security agencies on that and by the grace of Allah, we will deal with that problem.”
He explained that a battalion had been stationed in that contentious axis near Mainok,while a headquarters is at Jakana to enable the military operatives in that location patrol the area and prevent the insurgents from committing their atrocities.
“It’s not that we lack working tools, we have but we need more,” he said.
Asked the possibility of apprehending Abubakar Shekau, he said, “we are working on that and by the grace of Allah, we will be victorious.’’
He debunked the idea that the Nigerian military only engaged in defensive techniques instead of a hot chase on the insurgents, saying “the truth is that we are doing our best. We do chase them, we traverse different camps searching for Boko Haram. Just last week I assigned my soldiers from 21 Brigade to Bama. Although the guerrillas ran away, we found and destroyed their camp. We also rescued women and children from there,” he said.
We must explore all options to stop this scourge – Atiku
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar also said the Auno killings call for a second look at possible ways to end Nigeria’s war against the Boko Haram insurgency. He said Nigeria can’t afford to stay divided in the face of its common enemy.
He also sympathized with the bereaved families, noting that the incidents should make the nation explore all possible options to put a stop to the carnage.
Atiku made these remarks on Sunday via his verified Twitter handle.
Adopt new approach to fighting terrorism, insurgency — NLC
Organised Labour, yesterday commiserated with Governor Zulum, and indigenes of Borno State over Auno attack and asked military authorities to devise a new approach to fight terrorism and insurgency in the country.
The commiseration letter to Zulum by President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, read in part: “This attack is aimed at undermining the good efforts that your administration and our security forces are making to bring the current wave of terrorism and insurgency in the North East to an end and to restore the peace.
“At this rate, we have to urge the government and our security services not to be discouraged. It is also important for the government and our security forces to seriously consider adopting an entirely new approach to the fight against terrorism and insurgency especially in a manner that would break the spinal cord of those bent on unleashing mayhem on our people, their livelihoods and our collective sanity. It has now become unacceptable to allow blood-sucking marauders to operate for an uninterrupted period of up to four hours without repulsion by our security forces. We must now draw the line!
“The adoption of a new security strategy to the anti-terrorism fight has become acutely necessary given the grave danger that a much more prolonged insurgency portends for the socio-economic survival of our people. There are already fears that the recent upscale in violence along the Maiduguri-Damaturu corridor could be geared at cutting off this critical transportation artery and thus isolating Maiduguri from the rest of the country. The humanitarian impact in terms of the supply of food and other basic life-supporting amenities can only be imagined.’’
Go fight Boko Haram, leave Kanu’s home – INC tells Army
Also, the Igbo National Council, INC, yesterday advised the Nigeria security men at the home of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, ahead of his parents burial to leave.
INC President, Chilos Godsent, in a statement said in Owerri that Nigerians expected the Army in Afaraukwu to go and fight Boko Haram insurgents undermining the country’s sovereignty.