The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has accused Nigerian soldiers of being responsible for the attack on his convoy last Wednesday in Baga, a town in Kukawa Local Government Area of the state.
By Adejumo Kabir
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Zulum survived an ambush by suspected gunmen last Wednesday while on a trip to Monguno and Baga towns to distribute food to internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Addressing the army’s commanding officer in Mile 4 after the attack, Mr Zulum wondered why the army has not been able to secure Baga despite the number of troops deployed for over a year.
“You have been here for over one year now, there are 1,181 soldiers here; if you cannot take over Baga which is less than 5km from your base, then we should forget about Baga. I will inform the Chief of Army Staff to redeploy the men to other places that they can be useful,” Mr Zulum was quoted by Channels TV as saying.
But speaking a day after the attack, in another Channels Television video seen by PREMIUM TIMES, on Monday, Mr Zulum said what happened to him was a complete sabotage from the military.
Zulum explaining Baga attack. pic.twitter.com/7czJxMR179
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“It is a complete sabotage… I cannot end my interview without clearly stating what happened yesterday. As far as I am concerned, there was no Boko Haram yesterday (Wednesday). It was a serious shooting by the Nigerian armed forces while ‘residing’ in Baga. The situation is very embarrassing.”
The governor’s statement underscores the disturbing security situation in Borno. His statement suggests either sabotage by some soldiers or poor communication between the soldiers in Mr Zulum’s convoy and those on the ground in Baga who shot at the convoy.
The army has said it is investigating the attack.
“The Nigerian Army wants to reassure the general public that this will be interrogated with a view to forestalling future re-occurance,” army spokesperson Sagir Musa said a day after the attack.
In his Thursday speech, Mr Zulum said the failure of the military to take charge of Baga may lead to residents taking laws into their hands.
“Baga is important… We shall organise the community to take destiny into their own hands so that we can occupy Baga. That’s important”, he said.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the Northern Governors Forum, through its chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, described the attack as “callous and reprehensible.”
Mr Lalong’s statement was signed by his spokesperson, Makut Macham.
The forum said the attack was to frustrate Borno governor’s efforts toward reducing the sufferings of IDPs who had been traumatised by terrorists.
“This regrettable attack shows the desperation by enemies of peace and humanity at large to jeopardise all efforts towards making life easier for victims of violence in the state over the years,” it read.
Borno is the state most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria.
The insurgency has claimed over 30,000 lives and displaced millions of others.