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MAGUMERI ATTACK: How Nigerian military’s negligence caused killings

MAGUMERI ATTACK: How Nigerian military's negligence caused killings

It has been revealed that it was the negligence of the Nigerian Army that actually led to last Wednesday’s attack on Magumeri, Borno State which resulted in loss lives and properties.

The Army had claimed after the attack, that the residents of Magumeri connived with insurgents to carry out the onslaught on its troops.

Initially, the Army said two soldiers were killed. The claim was later faulted by the state government, which claimed the casualty figure as a result of the attack was “far higher” than stated by the army.

At least two personnel of the Nigerian Police Force reportedly died in the attack also.

Following allegations that the community connived with Boko Haram insurgents to carry out that attack, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima convened a ‘stakeholders meeting to investigate the allegation.

The governor who was reportedly worried by the allegation of the army spokesman, Sani Usman, that military obtained credible intelligence suggesting that the attack was made possible because residents cooperated with Boko Haram terrorists, had lashed out at the leaders of Magumeri accusing them of hurting civilian-military relations with their actions.

However, at the meeting on Tuesday, to the chagrin of the governor and many who were at the meeting, separate testimonies by the Department of State Security (DSS), the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nigeria Police, and that of Civilian-JTF in the town, revealed that the military were informed days before the attack but failed to do enough to avert the onslaught.

The police CIB, in its account made by its head in Magumeri, Bello Haruna, explained that the military authority in Magumeri was well informed about the impending attack before it eventually happened.

According to him, on the day of the attack, the commander of the troops in Magumeri, identified as Captain Waza, had invited him for an update on the rumoured assemblage of Boko Haram fighters around the town.

He said, “The Commanding officer, a Captain, invited me to his office in the morning of Wednesday, hours before the attack, asking for the details of the location where Boko Haram fighters were said to be assembling, and I asked him to bring out the map from which I gave him all the necessary information about the terrorists’ locations. But I am not sure if anything was done in response to that before the attackers came.”

Also giving its testimony, the DSS representative in Magumeri, Tim Modalla, revealed at the meeting that the security was aware of the imminent attack four days before it eventually occured.

Read also: Police arrest son of Nassarawa gov for killing JSS 2 student

“On March 10, we received credible intelligence from our informants that Boko Haram members were gathering in Bana village not far away; and after two days they shifted to Suleimanti village; then the following day which was 14th March, we gathered that their number swelled and they had about 45 vehicles.

“We picked the report and transmitted same to the military telling them that it is possible that Boko Haram would bring attack to either Magumeri, Mobbar or Gubio towns.

“And as predicted on the 15th of March at about 5.30p.m., I was informed by a civilian-JTF that our town was about to be attacked. And I told him to quickly alert the Captain, and the Civilian-JTF Operative said he was at the military base four times to alert them of the attack,” Modalla said.

Also, a leader of the Civilian-JTF in Magumeri, disclosed that he received information in the early part of the day the attack took place that a large number of Boko Haram fighters were coming towards their village.

He narrated, “Initially the informant asked if we were out on patrol with soldiers, I said no. He said he saw a large number of trucks that looked exactly like that of soldiers but what made him suspicious of their identity was the presence of large number of motorcycles trailing their convoy. So he said we have to be careful because they were advancing towards Magumeri town.

“When I received the information the Boko Haram fighters were about 30km away from Magumeri, I had to run to the soldiers’ camp to inform the Captain who is the commander that this is what was about to take place. Some few minutes later, I ran back to the captain upon receiving the information that the attackers were about 20km away.

“When they were less than 10km I still went back to the Captain to alert him. On my fourth trip back from the camp, when I was about to mobilise my boys to move into the soldiers’ camp, the Boko Haram fighters invaded the town, and began to attack and shoot at the military base.

“We managed to run into the base thinking that it would be safe, but the Boko Haram fighters continued to shoot into the base. That was how all of us, including the soldiers took to our heels because of their large number. So I still don’t know why we are being accused of helping the Boko Haram after all this information we have provided to them.”

In his reaction, the G.O.C represented by the garrison commander, Brigadier General Jubril Muhammed, said he could not speak on why the Army Spokesman issued the statement suggesting that the residents connived with the Boko Haram insurgents.

He confirmed that the Army got advance intelligence information from some of the community leaders about the imminent attacks before it eventually happened, and described what happened as “unfortunate”.

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