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Death returns to Maiduguri

When the Boko Haram crisis reached a crescendo, Maiduguri turned into what many called a ‘Garrison City’ owing to the massive deployment of troops there…

When the Boko Haram crisis reached a crescendo, Maiduguri turned into what many called a ‘Garrison City’ owing to the massive deployment of troops there by the Federal Government. This was sequel to the imposition of a State of Emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states by President Goodluck Jonathan on 13th May, 2013.
The period also marked affiliated attacks in major towns of Borno, such as Bama, Baga, Biu, Gwoza and Marte, among others. There were similar attacks in Damaturu and Potiskum in Yobe State, as well as in Mubi, in Adamawa State.
While security operatives of the then Joint Task Force (JTF) including the Army, Navy, Air Force, State Security Service (SSS); the Police, Immigrations and Customs, tried endlessly to contain the insurgents, the clampdown remained daunting.
According to observers, this was partly because the terrorists were embedded in settlements inhabited by civilians in all the major cities, a development which senior military officials said was not suitable for direct combat.
Many people were killed during the cat-and-mouse game that ensued between troops and terrorists, until the coming of youth volunteers, also known as ‘Civilian JTF’ in the first week of June, 2013, days after the State of Emergency came into effect. It is believed that the coming of the youth volunteers who gave community policing a new focus helped greatly in forcing the Boko Haram insurgents out of Maiduguri, ushering in hope and tranquility.
Most places in the state capital such as Gwange, Abbaganaram, Lawan Bukar, Shehuri, Hausari, Jajeri, Ruwan Zafi, Kula Gumna among others, which were hitherto no-go areas, were surreptitiously sanitized through cooperation between youth and security forces. It was a new dawn for Maiduguri, as businesses started to blossom once again while people from other parts of the country – especially Igbo traders who fled – started returning.
This was the situation until Tuesday, 14th January, 2014 when over 40 people lost their lives while 50 others sustained injuries when a bomb-laden car exploded around GSM Village in Maiduguri, shattering the peace that lasted nearly seven months.
More than 20 vehicles and many tricycles were burnt, as well as roadside stalls, tents and shops, mostly belonging to youth who sell recharge cards and mobile phone accessories.
A police traffic warden, women selling bean cakes, many motorists and a Suya-seller popularly known as Malam Amadu Faragai – and his workers who were all nearby – perished. That singular incident, which was earlier given a political correlation, altered the serenity in Maiduguri.
The GSM Village incident reminded residents of the desperate move by the terrorists to launch a comeback, as evident in the December 2nd 2013 attack on the Air Force base located along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road, where buildings and aircrafts on the premises were destroyed.
The twin blasts have left in their wake new pain for many families, including some nine children, whose mother was among those killed while eking out an honest living frying bean cakes. The orphans had in the past lost their father, a policeman felled by the bullets of Boko Haram insurgents.
Last Saturday’s twin blasts at Binta-Suga, a densely-populated area in Gomari area of Maiduguri, which left over 50 dead, heightened pressure from all walks of life on the need for the federal government to deploy a new strategy in subduing the insurgents.

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