By Akanimo Sampson
The killing rings in Nigeria, a seeming failed African giant, appeared to be celebrating the new security measures being put in place by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to contain the worsening security situation with more heartless killings.
Agency report says at least 13 civilians were killed in an air raid as the military repulsed a jihadist assault in Borno State, residents and a security source said on Sunday.
Multiple inhabitants of Gajiganna village, 50km from state capital Maiduguri, told AFP a military jet on Tuesday targeted jihadists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) after they attacked a nearby military base.
The Nigerian Air Force, however, said it had no reports of civilian casualties. But fleeing residents were however, caught up in the bombing, residents said on condition of anonymity over “ars for their personal safety.
“We lost 13 people in the bombardment as many people tried to escape the fighting between the insurgents and troops. Many people were injured in the attack,’’ a resident said.
The military jet was deployed around 19:30 (18:30 GMT) to support troops in the base who were trying to fight off the militants, residents said. “Many residents were too scared to remain in their homes and ran out to escape from the village as the fighting raged between the troops and the insurgents,’’ a second resident said.
While adding, “They were mistaken for the attackers by the jet which fired on them, killing 13 and injuring many,’’ the Air Force Spokesperson Ibikunle Daramola told a foreign news agency (AFP), “There has been no such report’’ of civilian casualties from forces on the ground.
“What I can assure you is that the Nigerian Air Force responded to provide close air support to our troops that were under attack by the Boko Haram terrorists and everything that was done was in coordination with the army,’’ he said.
But a security source in Maiduguri, according to the foreign news agency, confirmed the incident and blamed residents for flouting military orders to remain indoors. ‘’The villagers were warned not to step out of their homes before the terrorists attacked because there was intelligence they were planning an attack,’’ said the source.
“While fighting was going on some of the villagers started running away from their houses at the time the fighter jet was bombarding the terrorists,’’ said the security source who asked not to be named for fear of sanction.
“I learnt between 13 and 16 people from the village died and some others were wounded’’, he said as a military officer claimed ISWAP fighters in nine pickup trucks fitted with machine guns attacked the base around 17:00, engaging troops in a gun battle.
Though the jihadists were subdued with the support of the fighter jet which destroyed six trucks and captured two others, the officer said, on Thursday the military showed journalists the seized vehicles during a tour of the Gajiganna base, an AFP reporter at the event said.
Some buildings in the base were torched.
Military Commander Brigadier-General Bulama Biu said ISWAP fighters “tried to infiltrate’’ the facility but met “stiff resistance’’ from troops, adding that the attack was “repelled’’ with air support in which “many insurgents were killed.’’
While AFP claimed that he made no reference to civilian casualties, the ISIS-affiliated offshoot of Boko Haram, according to the news agency, has launched a series of attacks on military bases and government targets in the North-East since last July, leaving scores of troops dead.
In Katsina State, President Buhari’s home state, armed bandits demobilised an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicle on a rescue mission at Safana Local Government Area of the state. According to the Police in the state, a soldier and a Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) operative on the team were injured in a gun duel that ensured on Saturday.
The Police Spokesman in the state, Gambo Isah, claimed in a statement that the attack frustrated efforts of the security forces who were on their way to Kirtawa where a section of the bandits, number over 300 invaded the village, killing 10 residents and rustling an unspecified number of cattle.
“By the time the combined ground forces were mobilised into the village, the hoodlums had already operated and escaped into the forest. Joint security forces have been deployed to the area to arrest the situation, pursue and arrest the fleeing hoodlums,’’ the Police said.
From Adao community in Alabata area of Odeda Local Government Area of Ogun State, came the tragic news of how two herdsmen allegedly stabbed a 49-year-old farmer, Rafiu Showemimo to death.
The herdsmen allegedly accosted the farmer and stabbed him in the neck on his way back home from the farm around 12 noon. The 76- year -old man had two weeks ago escaped death after herdsmen macheted him in the head.
President Buhari’s deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, had said on Sunday that the government will be deploying more soldiers to the country’s highways to ensure the protection of lives and property.
Osinbajo who spoke in Akure, the Ondo State capital, when he visited Reuben Fasoranti, a top leader of the Afenifere to sympathise with him over the death of his daughter, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin.
The Vice President said the government was looking at the whole security architecture and making efforts to scale it up in a bid to ensure that “we are able to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians,’’ adding, “security in a big country like Nigeria, as you can imagine the challenge, is dynamic and we also have to be consistently dynamic to ensure that we are able to beat the challenges as they appear.’’
The late Olakunrin was shot on Friday by gunmen in Ore, headquarters of Odigbo local government area of the state.
Osinbajo recalled how President Buhari recently met the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, during which the latter laid out a new policy of community policing. “One of the most important things in this sort of crime, because they are largely economic crimes, is that people try to make money by kidnapping.
“Another important thing is intelligence gathering; that is why we have the community policing system where policemen would be trained in their own local governments and they would remain there. This is as close as we get to the community policing structure that we expect to have while we are engaging the Army so that there will be a bit of more military presence especially along the roads,’’ he said.
The Senate has expressed serious concern over the incessant attacks and killing of Nigerians by suspected herdsmen and hired assassins in recent times.
Their Spokesman, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, who in a statement condemned the killing of Mrs Olakunrin, said the senate was disturbed by the rate of incessant attacks and wanton killing of citizens “either by the herdsmen, hired assassins, kidnappers and or other men of the underworld that are having field days in wreaking havoc on the life and prosperties of innocent citizens in the country.’’
Meanwhile, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has taken a swipe at the Buhari administration, saying the All Progressives Congress (APC) government has failed Nigerians over its approach to the herders/farmers’ crisis and other security problems bedevilling the country.
Soyinka was speaking at his residence in Ijegba, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while playing host to 85 pupils drawn from all the six geopolitical zones of the country to mark his 85th birthday.
Soyinka, 85, said “governance is a very difficult occupation; Nigeria is a very complex nation for a lot of reasons; its history, the background, the formation of it, the complexity, the culture, balancing here and there and then, you have several complications like fuel, among others.
“Politicians that money has gone into their heads misdirect themselves in terms of priority, they neglect some sections, some of them are nepotistic and some of them alienate themselves from the public which is the people they are supposed to serve and govern and they think they are still colonial masters, especially when we went through the military period.’’
When asked to mention the governor he liked most in the country, Soyinka said, “The major problem that we have is successive governments; it is easier, on the state level, to say that this particular state is doing better than this state, but the central government, I am afraid, has failed and that is my view in the main to really serve the people intelligently, creatively and be even handed in their apportionment of facilities to various areas of the nation.
While assessing Buhari’s administration, Soyinka said Nigeria’s problems had overwhelmed the President, calling for a national dialogue among all the people across party and ethnic lines.