President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday met with Borno State Governor, Mr Ibrahim Shettima and elders from the state at Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, as the governor broke down in tears recounting the resurgence of Boko Haram activities in the state.
Wiping tears with his hands and with his voice cracking, the governor expressed confidence in the ability of the President to restore normalcy to the state and called for speedy action to end the crisis.
However, while the Borno elders were meeting with the President in Abuja, Auno, a village in the State, was attacked by Boko Haram.
Shettima said: “Borno State suffered its worst times between 2013 and 2014. In that period, Boko Haram abducted our children, attacked and took firm control of 20 of the 27 local government areas of Borno.
“In these 20 local government areas, they established caliphates and put in place sovereign administrators who strictly enforced tax systems and violent laws. They abused our young daughters. They forced young men to join their fighters.
“They turned old men, women into domestic slaves and they publicly executed parents in the presence of their children and wives for allegedly offending laws that are even alien to the religion of Islam. While administering our 20 local government areas, Boko Haram operated from council local secretariats in headquarters of local government areas and lived in palaces of traditional rulers, military barracks and police stations.
“On the other hand, from 2015 to 2018, Nigerian military with you as Commander-in-Chief, was able to liberate all the 20 local government areas hitherto under the Boko Haram. The military even took control of Boko Haram’s main operational base in the Sambisa forest.
“With these successes, Borno State government was able to rebuild more than 30,000 homes in various communities with all public facilities restored.
“With Mr. President’s leadership, many of our hitherto displaced brothers and sisters, including some of our traditional rulers, voluntarily returned to rebuilt communities in 14 local government areas, including Bama.
“Mr. President, I recollected all these for the sole purpose of establishing the irony in our visit today. As I explained, between 2013 and 2014, we witnessed the most daring and most vicious evil of the Boko Haram, losing 20 local government areas.
Why we rushed to Aso Rock — Shettima
“However, we rushed here because Boko Haram threatened to retake Kukawa. And Kukawa is just one of the 20 local government areas we had lost in the past but which the military regained under your leadership.
Receiving the delegation, Mr Buhari reasserted his administration’s unwavering support to equip the military to overcome the insurgency in the North-East.
The President in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, also told the delegation that the collective safety and security of civilians would continue to remain paramount in the administration’s strategy to restore peace and stability in the region.
He said: “Having been a former governor in North East, a GOC in the region and very familiar person with the terrain, I assure you that as Commander-in-Chief, I’ll raise the standard of Nigerian Armed Forces and get the resources to encourage them to do better than what they are doing.”
The President told the delegation that he was impressed by their leadership roles and participation in helping the government deal with insurgency in the North East.
He commended the contributions of stakeholders from Borno State, particularly the need for more air support for troops on the ground and coordination among different security agencies.
“I am getting at least a weekly situation report from the services and, of course, from other sources. I encourage the commanders to remain committed,” he said.
Buhari thanked Governor Shettima for demonstrating leadership in the state during these difficult times.
He said: “I have an idea how much you are doing and I very much appreciate it. I’m sure that has earned you more respect from the people.”
Other stakeholders from the state who made comments included Mohammed Naga, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno State; Bulama Mali Gubio, Secretary, Borno Elders’ Forum; Maina Ma’aji Lawal, former Governor of the State, Muhammad Masta II bn Al-Amin El-Kanemi, Emir of Dikwa, representing Shehu of Borno; Senator representing Borno North, Abubakar Kyari and Ali Ndume, Leader, Borno Caucus, National Assembly.
Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser, NSA, Mr Babagana Monguno, Director General of Department of State Service, DSS, Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi and Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, Chief of Defence Staff, Mr Gabriel Olonisakin were also in attendance.
Boko Haram attacks Auno
Meanwhile, Auno village, located on the outskirt of Maiduguri, the state capital, yesterday came under Boko Haram attacks, according to sources.
Auno, situated along Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, about 20 kilometres from Maiduguri, has witnessed massive development with reconstruction of damaged residential houses, schools and places of worship by Borno State government, following relative peace in the state in recent past.
Prior to the latest attack, neighbouring communities of Jakana, Mainok, among others, were deserted as residents have fled after receiving threats of attacks by the insurgents.
Although details of the attacks were still sketchy at press time, sources said hundreds of residents in the affected communities have fled into the bush for safety.