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Boko Haram: Gory tales of Northern Borno fleers

The resurgence of Boko Haram insurgency in the far North-East, instanced in the last week by the insurgents sacking military formations and communities in Northern…

The resurgence of Boko Haram insurgency in the far North-East, instanced in the last week by the insurgents sacking military formations and communities in Northern Borno, caused the displacements of colossal numbers of the residents of, especially, the fishing and farming communities in the Lake Chad-vicinity Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State.

Over the last one week alone, the insurgents had reportedly pounced on military formations and communities between Monguno, Monguno Local Government Area, and the very banks of the Lake Chad, chasing out virtually all residents, majority of them returnee IDPs, from Monguno, Malari, Gundir, Cross-Kauwa, Kukawa, Doro, Baga, Gundaran, Dabar-Shata and Dabar-Amina.

The essentially fishing and farming families fled in different directions, a large percentage of them into the semi-sahelian bush, but majority of them trekking towards Maiduguri, from where they had returned home after about four years of sojourn in camps there.

Reminiscent of the peak of the insurgency between 2014 and 2015, the fleers who formed a massive crowd adjacent Baga Road Market in Maiduguri, sleeping in the open in the last three days with the harmattan as their ‘comforter’, partly having no relations to sojourn with in the metropolis, and partly waiting to receive any surviving family members, trekking or conveyed in haulage vehicles, gave gory tales of their lives in the preceding week.

“It was about 5pm of last Friday when the insurgents invaded Baga,” Alhaji Malumta Usman, a Baga (Kukawa LGA)-based farmer and fish merchant, recounted to Kanem Trust.

“We had sporadic gunshots all over town, and there was shouting everywhere that Boko Haram had invaded town; so we all fled out of town in different directions.

“When we reached the town gate we four that even all the soldiers of the 199 Battalion of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) had also fled. I have a family of my mother, a wife and seven children, but as I am speaking to you now, I cannot tell you where they are or whether some or all of them are alive, because we fled in different directions,” he recounted, suppressing the guttural tone of his voice.

“The insurgents invaded our town on Wednesday,” Garba Adam of Doron Baga began recounting their encounter with the insurgents.

“When they (insurgents) came, they told us not to fear, and that the town had now become part of Daula (Islamic State), and that whoever wished to stay as a resident of the Daula could do so and whoever wished to leave could also do so. So on Thursday, we left the town, all residents in different directions.”

Muhammad Bukar Kangarwa of Kangarwa, Kukawa Local Government Area, has been an IDP in a host community in Maiduguri since September, 2014 when Boko Haram first sacked the community at the peak of the insurgency.

“As I am speaking to you now, I am reliably telling you that thousands of our returnees, including my father and mother and many of my own family members and friends, are still missing in God-Knows-locations in the bush between the Lake Chad and Maiduguri,” he recounted in a grief-ladden tone.

“Nobody can tell you whether or not, or how many of the thousands still in the bush are alive,” he said, pleading, “the hundreds gathering and sleeping in the open in Baga Road Market (Maiduguri) for the past three days need urgent assistance from government and INGOs.”

Modu Mustspha is a commercial driver of a Toyota Golf car, which he left at Monguno when he fled last Friday.

“The insurgents invaded Monguno at about 6pm of Friday, that was when I fled, leaving my family of a wife and two children,” he recounted, continuing, “you know in such traumatizing insecure situations, you think of your life first before any family member, so we all fled in different directions.

“I don’t know where my family is now, and even if I know that they are still at Monguno, I am not planning to go and bring them to Maiduguri because I don’t have the wherewithal to do so and feed them, and I don’t have accommodation.

“Look at transport fare for example; it used to be N1,000 from Monguno to Maiduguri per commuter, but since last Friday when the calamity descended on us, it skyrocketed to N5,000 per commuter; and a family has to pay between N25,000 and N30,000 to charter a vehicle,” he complained, querying, “where can I find that money?”

He said thousands of the returnee IDPs in the 12 camps at Monguno had fled, “and I can tell you that two-third of them are still in the bush.”

Saratu Hassan, a housewife, said “I fled Baga on Friday and arrived Maiduguri Saturday, but I lost my 7-year old male foster child. Her narration halted as she immediately meandered through the crowd, inquiring from her fellow Baga fleers if anyone had seen her child between the sacked town and Maiduguri.

The massiveness of the crowd fluctuated, mostly swelling with new arrivals and reducing a bit a few of the fleers finding places of sojourn among host communities in the metropolis.

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