The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum has confronted the army over an attack on his convoy in Baga, a town in Kukawa local government.
Governor Zulum had departed Maiduguri, the state capital on Monday afternoon for the northern part of the state in continuation of the food distribution programme which he started earlier in July.
On Wednesday, he was scheduled to visit Baga, a fishing town on the shores of the Lake Chad region which has been under the control of insurgents for many years until the military declared its liberation, insisting no Nigerian territory is under the control of Boko Haram.
But, few kilometers to Baga, gunmen opened fire on the Governor and his entourage.
The Governor was forced to retreat as security operatives on escort duties replied fire and repelled the attackers.
A furious Zulum confronted the Commanding Officer in Mile 4, mincing no words in expressing his disappointment at the inability of the military to rid Baga and environs of insurgents.
“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 5 km 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,” Zulum said.
“You people said there’s no Boko Haram here, then who attacked us?”
“We have over 1,181 soldiers in Baga; 72 officers, 107 solders, 400 soldiers in mile 4 and 1,900 soldiers in Monguno. I see no reason why Boko Haram will stop operate in Baga town,” he said.
“The troops have been in mile 4 for over one year, there is complete sabotage, the problem is not with President Buhari, or General Burutai but the command and control structures. There is need to look into command structure.
“We have over 80,000 IDPs in Monguno, they cannot continue to depend on NGOs and others for food, we have created opportunity for them to go back to their communities and continue with their business and farming activities.
“After Sallah, we will go back to Kukawa. We we will give time to the military; but if they will not clear Baga, we will mobilise our hunters and vigilantes to recapture Baga… we can’t continue like this. People have take their destiny in their hands.”
Reacting to the attack, Sagir Musa, army spokesman, said details of the incident are sketchy and efforts are ongoing to comb the scene of the attack.
“An investigation is also in progress to identify the circumstances that led to the attack,” he said.
“Regrettably, this is an isolated and most unfortunate incident that occurred in a territory where normalcy has since been restored with socio-economic activities picking up. The Nigerian army wants to reassure the general public that this will be interrogated with a view to forestalling future recurrence.”
The Governor has since returned safely with his entourage to Monguno where the distribution of palliatives continues.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK