MAIDUGURI/Nigeria: No Nigerian territory is currently under the control of the violent Islamic sect, otherwise known as Boko Haram, latest report has shown.
The Centre for Conflict Resolution and Management made the revelation in a report released on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.
The centre made this disclosure after an on-the-spot assessment of Baga Town Kukuwa LGA of Borno State and others parts of North Eastern Nigeria.
The centre made the revelation in the wake of the rumoured takeover of the town by Boko Haram insurgents.
Presenting the report on Wednesday, the Executive Director of the centre, Mrs. Betty Aku, said contrary to the media report, no town in the country is being controlled by the violent group.
The report reads:
Baga’s reputation and by volume of economic activity is a major economic hub in Borno State. The town is also located within the epicentre of the political insurgency in North-eastern Nigeria. By 2009, Doron Baga had become significantly affected by the activities of the insurgents, with the community experiencing frequent violent attacks and even long periods of territorial occupation by the insurgents.
The palpable insecurity in the Lake Chad region occasioned by armed banditry, arms trafficking and border intrusion along Nigeria’s border with Chad, Cameroon, and Niger necessitated the establishment of a Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in 1998 with Baga town in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State as the Headquarters. The initial mandate of the Task Force was to conduct military operations in the Lake Chad Region, checkmate banditry activities and to facilitate free movement of the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission across their shared border. The actions of Boko Haram in Baga as the epicentre of strategic activities in terms of arms procurement, planning for attacks and reception centre for foreign insurgents or mercenaries (due to its proximity to porous borders) obligated and justified the expansion of the Task Force’s mandate in April, 2012 to include the fight against terrorism. The MNJTF in Baga is in charge of Lake Chad region and is administratively and operationally independent.
As in this case, it is evident that Baga has remained a battleground for the Nigerian Military and the Boko Haram insurgents for factors such as its proximity to the neighbouring francophone countries, its economic potentials, and activities evident in farming, livestock rearing, and fishing. Even before the Boko Haram conflict in the area, phenomena’s such as ambush, human trafficking, kidnapping, and robbery have been prevalent in the Lake Chad basin and specifically near the borders.
Data analysis and interviews were used to answer critical research questions. Primary source materials constituted a significant aspect of the research work. The strength of this report was in the extensive use of such sources, including oral interviews with residents of the communities.
After an analysis of the findings of the researchers, the following were arrived at:
Baga town and its environs are not under the control of Boko Haram Insurgents.
Baga Town witnessed an attempted takeover by heavily armed Boko Haram Insurgents, but the attack was successfully repelled by the combined grand and air forces of the Armed Forces.
Baga and its environs are accessible to all commuters.
The rumoured takeover of Baga and other communities are aspects of propaganda in warfare.
The resurgence of attacks by Boko Haram Insurgents has not decimated the claims that the sect has been technically defeated.
The Nigerian troops were in high spirit throughout the festive season.
The neighbouring communities in Baga are as safe as well.
There is no section of the state under the control of Boko Haram Insurgents.
The second attempt lasted several hours until the military deployed air support to the ground troops.
Our researchers gathered that there was no attempt by the Insurgents to inflict harm on the locals. They were strictly out to take control of the military base and possibly gain access to the armoury. This much was also gathered for other communities included in the rumoured takeover by Boko Haram insurgents.
It was also gathered that the town of Cross Kauwa was briefly occupied by the Boko Haram insurgents after the first attempt at the military base in Baga. The insurgents launched the second attack from Cross Kauwa before dispersing using the Lake Chad route into the fringes in Chad and Niger.
It was also gathered that the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks might be connected to the forthcoming general elections. This much was gathered from some of the locals interviewed by our researchers on the field. There were instances where fingers were pointed at politicians (names not mentioned) who are either protesting a loss or a defeat or who have in one way or the other benefited from the malaise over the years.
The neighbouring communities also witnessed spill overs of the rage in Baga, and this saw to an increase of IDPs into Maiduguri the state capital from most of the communities surrounding Baga. Upon inquiry by our researchers, the majority of them stated that even though they have enjoyed peace over the years since they returned home, the experiences of past years have made them paranoid hence why they decided to troop to the state capital.
This was also the same reason adduced by residents in other parts of Borno state that were visited by our team of researchers. It was a case of palpable fear as a result of past experiences and not as a result of the occupation of these communities by Boko Haram Insurgents. In one of the communities in Southern Borno that didn’t witness any form of attack, residents trooped out of the town merely out of a rumour that Boko Haram insurgents were going to attack the community and this rumour caused a panic situation.
From available facts gathered it was indeed a misrepresentation by some media houses that reported that Baga and other communities were under the control of Boko Haram Insurgents. In the course of a five-day touring of these communities our researchers have been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was indeed a heated exchange of gunfire between the military and Boko Haram insurgents in some communities, especially Baga, and thus culminated into a rumour that the town had fallen and residents from other cities fled for fear of the unknown.