After 5-month captivity, ISWAP frees UN staff, 9 others



Some five months after, reprieve has come the way of Abubakar Garba Idris, a senior protection assistant with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and some nine others, as they were released by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

Also released alongside Alooma, as the UN staff is fondly called, were a  businessman, Muazu Bawa, a senior Christian cleric, Reverend Zango and one Barka Wasinda, a former staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority and some aid workers abducted March from a facility in Dikwa.

Dikwa, which lies some 90 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, had consistently come under attacks by the insurgents from January till date.

Alooma and some of the captives were abducted several times  between January 2 and March  along Maiduguri/Damaturu highway.

Blueprint gathered that they all regained their freedom after series of negotiations.

The UN staffer was as at the time of this report, undergoing medical and military check with troops of Operation Hadin Kai in Maiduguri after which he would be released to his family.

Similarly,  Bawa, a business mogul, who was also kidnapped same day, as well as the other eight captives were all undergoing debriefing by the military.

The attacks

For instance, during the March attack, the terror group overran the town, destroyed support facilities, including a primary healthcare centre, and also laid siege to the UN  humanitarian hub, which forced aid workers to seek shelter in a bunker.

The development forced the world body to suspend operations in the war ravaged northeast  in response to the attacks on humanitarian operations in Dikwa and Damasak.

The council on foreign relations’ security tracker says over 37,000 people were killed and millions displaced by the Boko Haram conflict.

The insurgents, it would be recalled, had attacked a convoy of travellers close to Matari village between Mainok to Jakana along Maiduguri/Damaturu highway, during which the UN worker was kidnapped at about 8.30am  of the ill-fated day.

According to reports, the criminals who were all in military attire mounted a roadblock on the highway with about three Hilux vans and several motorcycles to force to a halt.

However, Alooma drew the ire of the insurgents when he threw off his identification card in an attempt to possibly conceal his identity from his abductors.

Unfortunately, according to report, he was sighted by one of the insurgents who ordered him out of the car.

And for Bawa, Blueprint learnt the businessman was driving his private vehicle and attempted to beat the checkpoint of the insurgents.

In the process, his car was shot at the rear by the Boko Haram elements, who in anger pounced on him and took the businessman to an unknown destination.

Confirming their release, Executive Director Yobe State Network of Civil Society Abubakar Baba Shehu said “it’s cheering news.”

“I was together with someone who called a family member of Alooma and he has confirmed the release of his brother. This is encouraging news and we pray that more captives should be released soon,” Shehu said.

Plateau

 And from Plateau state, there are reports that 14 people were confirmed dead in two separate attacks by gunmen.

Blueprint gathered that while 12 people were killed in Sabon Layi Village, Kuru community, Jos South local government area, two other persons were killed in Zogu Village, Miango community in Bassa local government area of the state.

Sources said the attacks were carried out Sunday night while the people were already in their sleep.

Confirming the development, the lawmaker representing Jos South local government area in the State House of Assembly, Fom Gwattson, said:  “Some gunmen last night attacked my constituency and killed twelve persons in Sabon Layi community. I have just been informed of the development and this is completely unacceptable.”

National President Irigwe Development Association Ezekiel Bini, who also spoke in similar vein, said two persons were killed in Zogu village, while two others were injured during the incident.

 “Two persons died during the attack last night, while two were injured. It’s unfortunate that we have continued to bury our people on every attack by gunmen without anything being done to stop the killings by the authorities,” Bini lamented.

Police confirm killings

But in a reaction, the police image maker in the state, Ubah Ogaba, put the casualty figures at 10 on Jos South local government area.

“We had an incident in Jos South LGA. 10 persons, unfortunately, lost their lives but I am yet to get reports on the attack in Bassa.

“The Plateau State Police Command received a report that 10 persons were shot dead in a drinking joint at Sabon Layi, Kuru in Jos South LGA by yet to be identified gunmen who drove in with a Hilux and shot sporadically.

“Personnel of the Command and the military have been deployed in the affected area.

“The Commissioner of Police has ordered an immediate investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the killing and to bring the perpetrators of that dastardly act to book,” Ogaba said.

11 killed in Benue

In a related development, 11 people were killed in two separate incidents in Agatu local government area of Benue state.

The incident came barely one week after gunmen attacked and killed 27 people in Odugbeho community of the same local government area.

It was gathered that the latest killings occurred in Odugbeho and two other rural villages of Aila and Adagbo.

Sources said while two people were killed in Odugbeho, the nine others met their fate in Aila and Adagbo villages Sunday night.

Confirming the development, chairman of the council, Adoyi Sule, said the attack on Odugbeho community was done by some suspected herdsmen.

The council boss further said the suspects invaded the community Sunday night, killed the two people and burnt 21 houses.

Similarly, he said the death of nine others were occasioned by the  communal crisis between Aila and Adagbo communities.

He said about eight persons wounded during the fracas were currently receiving medical attention at an unknown hospital.

And when contacted, spokesman of the state Police command, Catherine Anene, said she was yet to be briefed.

Zazzau emir 

Also, the Emir of Zazzau,n Mallam Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli has raised the alarm over persistent level of  attacks carried out by armed bandits in the Emirate and the state as a whole.

 He therefore called for more deployment of troops to enhance maximum security of lives and property of citizens in the area.

 The Emir raised the concern Monday when the Kaduna state Commissioner of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Samuel Aruwan, led a security delegation on a confidence building visit to the palace in Zaria.

 The monarch said the increasing rate of banditry in the emirate and the state in general was becoming so alarming with gunmen striking in the ancient city almost on daily basis in the last one week.

 Bamali said: “It is disheartening that a hospital can be razed and a Medical Doctor kidnapped, while a District Head who is leader can be subjected to attacks and his family kidnapped.

 “You are also aware that a student was shot death while two lecturers and about 10 students were kidnapped in Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic Zaria all within one week.”

 The Emir said more deployment of troops became highly imperative considering the strategic importance of Zaria which serves as a gateway to people in the North West.

 Bamalli however appreciated the efforts of both the federal and Kaduna state governments at combating the menace, but called for more stringent measures to safeguard the lives of the people.

 “With all the number of Military, Air Force and Police Formations in the state,it is worrisome that such level of insecurity could persist. I therefore appealed for more concerted efforts in addressing the ugly trend,” the emir pleaded.

 Earlier, Commissioner  Aruwan  had said they were at the palace to commiserate with the Emir over recent activities of gunmen in the Emirate and also reassure the people that government and all security personnel would continue to protect the lives and property of the citizens.

 He conveyed Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai’s condolence and sympathy to all those involved in the attacks.

 On the visit were Commander 453 Base Services Group Nigerian Air Force Training Command Kaduna, Air Commodore Kenneth Iyamu, Garrison Commander 1 Division, Kaduna, Brig.-Gen. Ofuno and Commissioner of Police Umar Musa Muri, who all pledged their readiness to tackle insecurity challenges head on.

‘We need security summit now’ 

 And amidst these challenges, pioneer Director General Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Osaro Onaiwu has urged former governors from 1999 to 2019 to converge as soon as possible to deliberate on issues bordering on national security.

 He charged the former governors to speak up against the insecurity and other vices ravaging the country, as keeping quiet in the face of killing and destructions would not help the country and its citizens. 

 The former NGF head further noted that none of the ex-governors had raised his voice against the killings and carnage in the country in the past few years.

He said “rain doesn’t fall on one roof,” insisting that the earlier the insecurity ravaging the nation is tamed the better for everyone.

Onaiwu pointed out that nowhere is safe in the country, adding that “the nation is not at war, but the blood that has been spilled in the past few years could be counted as a nation at war.”

“The former governors should meet like other leaders of thought that have been working round the clock to proffer solution to what is happening in the country.

 “Keeping silence will not help the nation as there is nowhere that is safe presently. This is the time for them to meet and take action. Religion, ethnicity and other cultural affiliation should be put aside so that this country can be delivered from the hands of bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, robbers and others destroying the nation.

 “It is high time somebody speaks out and the former governors still have influence in this country and they should not keep quiet. Keeping quiet will not help the country to overcome the monster of insecurity and other vices,” Onaiwu said.