IT was another round of bloodshed as suspected Boko Haram gunmen, in a convoy of over two dozens of Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles, attacked Dille village in Borno State, killing 45 people, and torching many houses and shops before villagers fled into nearby hills for safety in the early hours of yesterday.
Also, about 11 persons have been feared killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen at Zamadede in Pil-Gani district of Langtang North Local government of Plateau State.
It was gathered that the gunmen at the early hours of yesterday morning attacked two communities and started shooting indiscriminately killing 11 persons, including a 45-year-old mother with her little son and a pregnant woman.
A source who spoke to journalists further said several homes were burnt. An eye witness who lost two members of her family, Mrs. Baby Hosea, described the incident as sad, lamenting that her people were killed in their sleep.
Condemning the incident, the member representing Langtang North and South constituency in the House of Representatives, Beni Lar, expressed worries over the recent attacks on her constituents.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abuh Emmanuel, confirmed the attack, saying that men of the Police force were trying to get the full details.
Meanwhile, top operational commanders and leadership of the Nigerian Army have begun a four-day summit in Abuja to appraise its performance in its operations against the Boko Haram terror group.
According to Njimtiku Papka, who fled to Maiduguri yesterday, the gunmen came in vehicles laden with explosives and started shooting
sporadically in the village to kill any villager that fails to cooperate with them.
“Some of us have to flee into the nearby hills for safety because the insurgents did not spare any person in their attacks and killings in the last three or four months.” Monday’s attack brought to five the number of villages in the area attacked by Boko Haram gunmen without any arrest by the military or police since last January,” Papka said.
According to him, among the people killed are the ones considered as informants to the military.
On how the village was attacked, he said: “We were caught unawares by the gunmen’s dawn attacks, because most of us were asleep by then. Suddenly we started to hear people chanting God is great in Arabic and shortly, they began to shoot and burn our houses and locked up shops with
petrol-bombs. Some children and women started crying, but they have to flee for safety forover six hours.”
It was also learnt that two hours after the attack, a fighter jet flew in and hovered for half an hour, to probably track the fleeing insurgents.
Sources from the Divisional Police Station in Askira town could not ascertain the exact number of casualties in the attack but said it took the insurgents over two hours to raze down the entire Dille village.
“Over three dozens of villagers lost their lives along with several houses and shops. The insurgents came through the Uba-Lassa road in their Hilux vehicles, while others used motorcycles in attacking thevillage in the early hours of Monday,” the Police source said.
Stating that war is a difficult endeavour, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah said at the opening of the conference at the Army Headquarters Command Officers Mess in Asokoro, Abuja that there is hope for Nigeria. His words: “In the incoming months, most of our efforts will begin to yield dividends and lead to remarkable changes in the battle arena across the battle fields that we are engaged in to restore peace in Nigeria. Like I said, in a few months, the war will be over. I cannot give you clear calendar date because this again is war on terrorism, it cannot be determined in terms of concrete date.
“The Nigerian Army is performing. I also know the expectations of Nigerian citizens. But the expectation is rather too much in haste. We need some time. We need patience and we are fighting terrorism. Therefore, we need time. I know the expectation of Nigerian citizens is that this thing should be over by yesterday. But the reality is that it would not have been over by yesterday because of the structure and dynamics of fighting this type of terrorism.”
On the challenges of the war against terror, Minimah said: “We are not fighting a conventional war. Nigerian Army is conventional and regular army. We are now fighting terrorism and the terrorist is someone you don’t know. It may be someone who sold food or fruit to you in the morning and by afternoon, he is a terrorist. We are having all that in an interplay in the battle front in the North-East. We have to be cautious to separate the terrorist from the law abiding citizens.
“We also have human rights to protect. You just don’t go out killing people that they are terrorists. Some are innocent Nigerians. We are bound by all the international treaties on human rights. We are fighting Nigerian citizens. We are not fighting foreigners. So,
caution must be exercised. I appeal that we will certainly surmount it, but we also need that support from the nation, from all segments of the society and from the people, including the media practitioners. We need patience and time for us to do it.”
On the activities of the foreign partners who joined their Nigerian counterparts to help find the school girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, he said: “They did not come with boots on ground. They have come to share some level of intelligence with us. So, I think too that we should exercise some patience because it takes time. This intelligence is to be gathered and shared, and for some action to be taken. There are no boots of foreign troops on ground.”
The Army Chief reminded his top commanders and principal officers the need to fully enforce discipline and be diligent, noting that the war against Boko Haram has “shifted focus on the Nigerian Armed forces especially the Nigerian Army. Our activities have come under particular scrutiny. Others abuse the opportunity with a small section of the press to cast aspersions on the competence and integrity of the Nigerian Army.”
On the Lagos incident in which soldiers were alleged to have set BRT buses and other property on fire, Minimah said: “It is wrong that this was alluded to the Nigerian Army. What happened was that a soldier was killed by a BRT vehicle and the BRT vehicle and the dead soldier were removed. Hoodlums and vandals then took over and destroyed government property. It was not the Nigerian Army that did that.”
Minimah, who noted that he came into office “as a war-time Chief of Army Staff,” decried “the rising acts of indiscipline and unprofessional conduct by troops. In this regard, the recent near-mutinous act in Maiduguri and the reported destruction of public property in Lagos readily comes to mind. As a highly disciplined and professional army, the conduct of our troops must be above board at all times. All commanders must check all acts of indiscipline and misconduct by personnel under their command. The image of Nigeria must and always be protected.”
He tasked the meeting to take stock and make recommendations on the ways to move the Nigerian Army forward, especially on measures to improve capability in terms of training, equipment repairs as well as welfare and troops motivation.
The meeting is expected to end on Wednesday.