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How IEDs disrupt North East’s hope for peace

The year 2024 started with hope for peace in the North East, but the spike in killings through improvised explosive devices in Borno, Yobe and…

The year 2024 started with hope for peace in the North East, but the spike in killings through improvised explosive devices in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has left many people in despair.

These three states have been grappling with attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), which have continued to claim lives and property for over a decade.

Data by a security consultant, Group Captain S.G Shehu, revealed that in 2023, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe recorded 376 ordinance explosion incidents, resulting in 151 civilian casualties.

Shehu, who presented a paper at the North East security meeting in Maiduguri, noted that in 2022, not less than 639 explosions occurred with 223 civilian casualties in the three states.

“Up to 1,366 explosions were recorded within five years,” he added.

Also, data mined from newspaper publications revealed that at least 61 people had been killed by landmines planted by terrorists in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in three months.

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According to the statistics compiled between November, 2023 and February 2024, Borno, with the highest number of deaths, recorded 35, Yobe 22 and Adamawa, 4, which gave a total sum of 61.

MAKESAFE data analysis has shown a percentage increase in casualties of civilians in some returnee displaced persons local government areas since June, 2022, which include 100 per cent in Gwoza; 100 per cent in Mobbar, 88 per cent in Ngala, 50 per cent in Kukawa and 21 per cent in Bama.

Security, govt, locals must be on same page to end IEDs attacks – Expert

Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, Brig-Gen Sani Usman Kukasheka (Rtrd) said that governments at state and federal levels must come together to end the emerging threat of IEDs by the terrorists.

“Government should provide additional minesweepers and mines detectors so that security operatives can embark on long-range patrol, using drones technology that would identify, record and detect the IEDs and other terrorists’ activities in those areas” he said.

He also said that it’s a duty of government and security agents to educate and sensitize the people to be more security conscious, and be on alert whenever they come across explosives.

“Education and sensitization would also alert people to understand the modus operandi of the terrorists. This would make metal scavengers know that their business is a dangerous one which they must eschew and look for a better means of livelihood,” he said.

Kukasheka said most importantly, government should provide infrastructure like roads and create more jobs for people in the affected areas

“You can’t fight insurgency and terrorism with a divided house; people should be galvanized on the same page with government and security forces so that nobody would go in the opposite direction,” he added.

He advised that people should not relent, but must continue to support security operatives.He also advised that the state government shouldn’t rush in resettling IDPs to recovered communities. “Those communities must be cleared of mines, while law and order be restored; courts and police stations must be present before the people should be returned.

“There are active IEDs in those places, they should clear the IEDs first and repair bad sections of roads to prevent planting of the IEDs by the terrorists,” he said.

Borno

On January 29, 2024, an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by suspected Boko Haram insurgents killed 13 farmers, mostly women and children, along the Pulka/Firgi road in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State.

According to the report, the vehicle carrying farmers ran over the explosive and detonated, killing the driver and six other passengers instantly. Seven others who sustained severe injuries also died.

On January 27, 2024, IEDs planted by terrorists detonated and killed six people – four pupils and two adults suspected to be metal scavengers in the Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State.

Also, on January 16, 2024, twin explosions of IEDs believed to be planted by insurgents killed four Civilian JTF members and injured 9 in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.

Prior to this, another incident occurred at the fringe of Sambisa forest, close to Damboa town, where a vigilante was killed and other people, including a soldier injured.

“Our gallant CJTF went on operation and unfortunately, their vehicle ran over an explosive that killed three persons and six others were critically wounded,” he said.

On January 9, 2024, eight passengers were killed by landmines planted by Boko Haram terrorists in Ngala Local Government Area of the state. The incident occurred along Ngala and Dikwa roads, 115 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the state capital and left many people injured.

A top CJTF source said the two vehicles, including an Isuzu van and a lorry, ran over the bomb and all the passengers were affected.

On December 28, 2023, an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) was killed by landmines planted by Boko Haram terrorists after they destroyed three electricity towers in Jakana, along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road in Borno State

The general manager, Public Affairs of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Ndidi Mbah, confirmed that, “the very sad incident cost the life of an NSCDC officer.”

On November 9, 2023, two overall commanders of the Civilian JTF were also killed and their lieutenants injured by mines planted by terrorists near Ndufu village in Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State.

A senior CJTF commander who confided in Daily Trust on Sunday said the victims encountered IEDs by the roadside on their way to routine patrol in Ndufu town.

“The general commander of Gambarou, Bukar Goni, and the commander in charge of Ngala area, Malam Cede, died instantly, leaving six others injured,” he said.

Adamawa

Boko Haram insurgents have taken a new disturbing dimension of setting IED booby traps using naira notes to bury the explosives and lure passersby.

The most recent incident was when the IEDs detonated at the scrap material area along Kabang road killed two people and injured others.

Another explosion also killed two peopole in Dahlehi community in the Maiha Local Government Area of the state.

Yobe

In November, 2023, Boko Haram terrorists planted IEDs that killed 20 villagers in Nguro Kayayya community in Geidam Local Government Area of Yobe State.

The police public relations officer, Yobe State command, Dungus Abdulkarim, confirmed the incident, saying the villagers ran over the explosive after returning from the burial of five persons killed Boko Haram terrorists.

In another incident, two vigilante members were killed by explosion in Gujba Local Government Area of the state.

However, the figure of explosives killing both civilians and security operatives has continued to raise concerns, especially by community leaders and the affected state governments.

Disturbed by frequent bombings, the Borno Elders Forum issued a statement expressing concern over the situation in Borno and the region.

The chairman of the Forum, Bulama Mali Gubio, called on the federal government to beef up security in the region to ensure the protection of lives and property of the people.

“The Forum observed with regret and concern recent pockets of insurgency, which resulted in the killing of innocent citizens in some parts of the states, land mines on our roads, as well as the destruction of power towers that supply electricity to Borno via Yobe State,” he said.

Terrorists have changed tactics – Frontline troops

Soldiers fighting to recover areas taken over by Boko Haram terrorists said the insurgents had changed their modus operandi of planting IEDs.

Some of the soldiers told our correspondent that the terrorists now use cables, remote control, or even minted naira notes to detonate explosives.

“As soldiers operating around the Goza axis, we are facing serious challenges with explosive ordinances because of terrorists’ new tactics.

“Before, they would plant explosives and leave the area, but they now lurk around or hide in a thick bush to detonate it when they notice that soldiers or civilians are around.

“We recently lost an engineer who usually scanned and defused the bombs planted by the terrorists in Goza. He went to neutralise the explosive, not knowing that it was connected to a cable, so they blew him up,” he said.

Another soldier in the Goza area complained that the terrorists were on top of the hill watching every movement of the troops, but they don’t receive aerial support from the air force.

“Whichever way you look at it, soldiers are not motivated to fight or take the war to the insurgents

“Recently, there was a signal to Abuja that we captured some areas occupied by Boko Haram insurgents, but I swear to God who made me that nothing like that happened.

“The worst part of it is that these are areas we are supposed to capture on Goza hills for our safety and have operational advantage in the Sambisa forest because it is the same people planting the bombs that are killing people.

“It is like our leaders don’t want the operation to finish, and nobody cares about our welfare. We are here dying for the country but the N35,000 palliative promised us by the federal government is still not given to soldiers.

“If the police and other paramilitary have gotten their own, why not the soldiers?” he asked.

Hazardous 38 Borno, Yobe, Adamawa LGAs

Data from the BUHARI PLAN had identified 38 local government areas across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where explosives ordinance are used.

The data, in 2016, revealed that the incidents in the BAY states took place at Damboa, Jere, Gwoza, Bama, Maiduguri Dikwa, Monguno and Ngala. The most severely affected areas include Konduga, Gwoza, Bama, Maiduguri, Damboa, Jere, Dikwa, and Madagali in the North and Mubi South, Adamawa State.

Explosions handiwork of saboteurs – Zulum

However, Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State lamented that the recent explosions happening in the state is a handiwork of saboteurs and beneficiaries of Boko Haram insurgency who don’t want an end to the crisis.

Governor Zulum said this during a two-day visit to Damasak, where he supervised distribution of N100million, food and non- food items to 20,000 vulnerable women.

He noted that IED attacks were a matter of time and would soon be resolved.

“We have a lot of saboteurs in the Boko Haram insurgency, especially on the issue of landmines and IED attacks along the highways.

“We are working with security operatives to determine the root cause of the recent happenings. But I want to assure the people that very soon, we will get rid of the issues of IEDs on the highways.

“It is a major threat to all of us. It has not been happening in the last two years. It is a recent development, and I believe there is sabotage in the system.

“Many within and outside the state don’t want the end of the fight against Boko Haram insurgency. Many are feeding from the insurgency and many are getting wealth from the crisis.

“Look at the recent IED attacks, the vandalism of electricity power lines. All these are geared towards deteriorating the security situation in the state. But we are equal to the task, we will not allow such issue to continue,” he added.

 

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