Recent indications from residents of Bama town in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, where 55 persons were killed this week (including 22 police officers and 14 prison officials), have it that most of the insurgents they saw were Nigerians and Cameroonians, while local almajiris showed them the places they attacked.
A resident, Mallam Kolomi Bama, said the insurgents burnt down police barracks where a newly married woman and three children were burnt it was also learnt that other valuables destroyed includes several cars and motorcycles and domestic animals.
Four blocks in the Bama mobile police unit were razed, while at least 10 people, seven policemen and three Boko Haram members were also killed.
According to the informant, the insurgents also attempted to attack the military barracks in Bama, but met a brick wall, as the soldiers reportedly repelled the attackers, killing 10 of the insurgents who dressed in military uniforms and recovered several AK-47 rifles, bomb making devices, assorted ammunition and gallons of concoctions said to have contained intoxicating substances.
Another eyewitness “Amina Usman”, reported that the gunmen came in their hundreds, in several buses and Hilux vehicles with guns mounted on some of the vehicles, while they attacked various security formations and government buildings.
She said the gunmen opened fire on the mobile police base, as they were trapped by the curfew imposed on the town, stressing that the insurgents were mostly foreign nationals guided by those (local almajiris) who understood the terrain.
The JTF spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Sagir Musa Speaking to newsmen at the JTF headquarters, shortly after inspecting the affected areas, said the insurgents usually wear military uniforms during their operations, a reason, he said, civilians always blame soldiers for any attack.
When he visited the scene of the incident on Wednesday, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, expressed sadness at the level of destruction.
He thanked the security operatives for ensuring the return of normalcy in the town, while he charged the people of the state to guard against violence and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
On the other hand, the director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Ibrahim Attahiru, who disclosed during a press briefing, noted with regret that there had been heightened tension in the North, culminating in the recent Baga and attack on Bama prisons and police station by terrorists.
The army spokesman said that the attack was aimed at overrunning the barracks and creating mayhem, but was successfully repelled, while the security in the barracks was not breached.
He lamented that police station, barracks, local government secretariat, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, magistrates’ court and a primary school were burnt by the terrorists, while about 105 inmates were set free from the prison.
He however clarified that those killed in action included 21 Boko Haram terrorists, six police officers, 14 prison staff, two soldiers and four civilians, including three children and a woman burnt to death.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has expressed worry over the persistent extra-judicial killings on Nigerians by security agents in Baga and Bama in Borno State, insisting that it was not only criminal but also capable of encouraging lawlessness in the country.
Similarly, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said the reported attacks of Bama by gunmen was as unjustifiable as it was condemnable.
ACF, in a statement signed by Anthony Sani, its national publicity secretary, therefore, appealed to those who enjoyed taking other innocent people’s lives to stop forthwith, by laying down their arms and embrace peaceful means of resolving perceived differences.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) condemned the attack on Bama town by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, saying the barbaric attack is another reason for all stakeholders to end the daily carnage in some parts of the North.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, the party said while every human life was sacrosanct, it was particularly saddened by the mindless killing of security personnel in the course of carrying out their duties of ensuring the protection of life and property.
It also described as barbaric and callous, the killing of defenceless citizens, especially women and children, saying the perpetrators of the senseless killings had lost their sense of decency and humanity.
“Nothing in the world can justify the kind of killings we have witnessed in recent times, and it is high time those who are behind these orgy of violence stopped and retraced their steps,” ACN said.
In another development, Governor Shettima has warned the political leadership of the country against imminent revolt if it fail to provide the fundamental needs of the people, especially the youth.
Shettima gave the warning while receiving members of the Senate Committee on Massacre in Baga, who were in Borno State on an on-the-spot visit.
He lamented that the only issue agitating the mind of the political class was how to amass wealth and perpetuate themselves in power.
Following recent developments, President Jonathan has condemned the attack on Bama, noting that the decision of the Federal Government to explore the option of dialogue should not be seen as a sign of lack of resolve to deal decisively with terrorism.
A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, in Abuja, on Wednesday, expressed the president’s belief that the continuation of such callous and wanton attacks of innocent Nigerians, government facilities and security formations flew in the face of ongoing efforts to establish a workable framework for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of security challenges in northern Nigeria.
The president warned that the consideration of dialogue as an option for the elimination of some current threats to security should not be seen as weakening of government’s resolve and determination to use all the forces at its disposal to crush all brazen affronts to the powers and sovereignty of the Nigerian nation.
He expressed his condolences to the families and colleagues of the soldiers, policemen and prison officials who lost their lives in the dastardly attack.
The president urged the armed forces and police not to be disheartened or daunted by the loss of their colleagues, but to remain focused and undeterred in discharging their responsibility for the security of lives and properties in all parts of Nigeria.
The President however commiserated with the families of the innocent civilians who were either killed or injured in Tuesday’s attack on Bama.