Bama Still Under Control Of Boko Haram-Senator

Borno’s second largest city, Bama, remains in the grip of Boko Haram militants with several locals still trapped in the enclave, a federal lawmaker from the area has said.
“Nothing has changed. Bama remains effectively in the hands of the militants and our people are dying of hunger and diseases,” Senator Ahmed Zannah, who hails from Bama town, said during a chat.
“The military has refused to liberate Bama months after the terrorists had taken it over,” he said.
Boko Haram seized Bama in the first week of September reportedly after a fierce battle with soldiers that lasted days and claimed many lives on both sides.
But the army has always disputed the claim, insisting that soldiers are in charge of the commercial town located nearly 60 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Zannah, who has repeatedly contradicted the army on counter-insurgency operations in the north-eastern region, said the military is “capable of ending this once and for all but is hampered by a number of interests holding it down”.
“I see no reason why the troops cannot flush out the rag tag militants from this town despite their (troops) successes elsewhere especially in Konduga,” he said.
“We need to save the people as well as save our territorial integrity as a country,” added the lawmaker.
Zannah stopped short, however, of mentioning such interests, although his comments fall within widespread allegations of political interests fuelling the insurgency as a strategy ahead of the 2015 general election.
Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) have traded blame over who is behind the five-year insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, destroyed businesses and displaced no less than six million people from the region.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has said the recent release of about 27 hostages held by Boko Haram terrorists to Cameroun, including 10 Chinese nationals and the wife of the country’s Vice-Prime Minister, Mrs. Amadou Ali, has vindicated its previous assertion that the woman had not been freed.
A top military source, who spoke to THISDAY on the latest development, alleged that information and documents had been leaked to the media on the hostage situation to spite Nigeria.
The source said the reported release of the 27 hostages seized by the Boko Haram terrorists from Cameroun in May and July this year, had confirmed their claim that the hostages were never freed in the first place.
“This is what we had hinted to some of our media contacts earlier on that all those reports about the release of the Vice-Prime Minister’s wife by Cameroun were all lies. But our media chose to ignore us and instead believed the enemy propaganda to spite us,” the intelligence source said.
The source claimed that Camerounian authorities, in what looked like a repeat of non-aggression pact between Adolf Hitler of Germany and Josef Stalin of Russia to protect their strategic interests prior to the second world war in 1939, reached an understanding with Boko Haram terrorists around August not to attack their bases nor to cooperate with Nigeria in its on-going counter-terrorism efforts.
A highly-placed intelligence source further disclosed that Cameroun offered this arrangement to the Islamic sect as part of the concessions packaged to facilitate the release of Mrs. Ali.
The source revealed that contrary to widely published reports, Cameroun lied when it claimed that Ali had been released.
He said such action was taken in order to ridicule Nigeria and make her look weak in the eyes of the international community following the protracted efforts at releasing the abducted Chibok girls, which so far has not yielded the desired results.
“All I want you to know is that the wife of the Vice-Prime Minister (of Cameroun) they claimed to have been freed then was not true. In fact, negotiations were still on-going for her release when they made those initial claims.
“If she was released (earlier), as they claimed, where are the pictures, videos or any other image as evidence like what we had in the past, especially the French missionaries that were freed after payment of a ransom?”, he asked.
The intelligence official alleged that Cameroun had made concessions to Boko Haram, including not to disturb the sect’s operational bases, and not to cooperate or share information with Nigeria.
“This served both interests well, as Cameroun backed by France wants a weakened Nigeria and then the terrorists can always use their territory as a safe haven,” the source explained.
He said the Camerounians were only responding positively now because Boko Haram had been weakened.
The consequences of this alliance, the source revealed, is the heightened hostile stance adopted by Camerounian authorities against Nigeria’s counter-terrorism efforts in violation of the arrangements and agreements reached in France about three months ago.
According to the source, there were series of exchanges of highly classified letters amongst the top echelon of Camerounian authorities and their security commanders including President Paul Biya, Chief of Defence Staff and the country’s Minister of Interior.
One of such letters, which was obtained by THISDAY – Decree No…G/D/MINATD – titled: “Strong Message” – was from the Camerounian Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Mr. Rene Emmanuel Sadi, to the Commander, Rapid Intervention Brigade, directing him not to cooperate with Nigeria regarding the Boko Haram terrorists.
The letter reads: “As you are aware of the security situation in the country and the impending turmoil/danger coming from our neighbour, Nigeria, you must keep all important information regarding the Islamic sect under your control without sharing all the information with Nigerians.
“We do not want the situation from our neighbouring country to spill over to our country.
“Information from our Western friends portrays Nigeria negatively. Our territory has to be protected and we need to be vigilant along the border.
“The Head of State has charged each unit to be on alert in case of more spill overs considering that our neighbour is facing the unknown. Take charge of your unit and treat this note confidentially.”
Responding to the latest development, the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-General Chris Olukolade, said even though the country was capable of handling its own internal security challenges, it remained faithful to its allies.
Olukolade said Nigeria is always open and ready to cooperate with both regional and global allies who are committed in the on-going counter-terrorism efforts.
“We remain disposed to cooperating with all our regional and global allies who show serious commitment to the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts,” he stated.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the latest revelation proved abortive, as both calls and text messages were not responded to.

Author: News Editor

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