— Residents resort to prayers
By Ibrahim Abdul’ Aziz
No fewer than 350 children are feared missing following the commotion that greeted the annexation of Mubi, Adamawa state, by members of Boko Haram on Wednesday.
As at the time the insurgents struck the town, many children were said to have been in their schools and got missing in the melee that greeted the arrival of the insurgents with people scampering into different directions to avoid being caught by the bullets of the insurgents.
A distraught displaced woman, Hajiya Mairo Abdullahi, was at the weekend seen holding the picture of her seven-year- old child who she claimed went missing after the insurgents struck the town.
“Since morning, I have been going from one street to another asking people whether they have seen Farouk, my last child.
“I have been making calls since the day he got missing but up till now I could not hear any positive response,” she said.
Another mother, Mrs Na’omi Bitrus, said she could not locate two of her three children who got missing in the melee that ensued when the insurgents struck.
“They are still missing as I am talking to you. Nobody knows their whereabouts,’’ Mrs Bitrus wailed as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Similarly, Mr. Solomon Kabila said about eight of his children got missing during the commotion.
“When the insurgents struck Mubi, my wife called to inform me that she and the children were in the midst of the insurgents who were firing gun shots sporadically and immediately, the line went off.
“Since then I could not communicate with her or any of the children.
“My life has no more value as I could not even eat because whenever I tried to put anything into my mouth, the thought that my little children may be starving in the bush always made me to cringe with exasperation,” he said.
Another victim, who told reporters that he had lost contact with his three wives and 15 children, said his life had been completely shattered by the development, adding that he had been trying to get across to them without success.
“I tried, to no avail, to get across to them. I reached my contacts in Cameroon and Yola without success. Right now I don’t know whether they are alive or dead,” he said.
Many children were similarly stranded in Yola as they said they could not locate their parents.
One of such children, who was seen wandering in Yola, identified himself as Sulaiman. He said he hailed from Uba town and had to run for dear life when the insurgents struck his home, killed his father and two brothers and abducted his mother alongside her sister.
“When the insurgents entered our compound, they slaughtered my father, killed my two brothers, and abducted my mother and her sister.
“I escaped the house through the fence and ran into the bush and since then I was walking till I reached this place,” Sulaiman narrated.
Meanwhile, as the Boko Haram sect continues to hold open court and public sessions by implementing strict Shariah law, thousands of Muslims across Adamawa yesterday converged for special prayer for lasting peace and an end to insurgency attacks affecting the state and the region.
At the session of the prayer held at the Yola and Jimeta Eid prayer ground, Imam Abubakar Hussaini, who led the prayer, urged Muslims to remain calm and prayerful.
“You should not be intimidated and don’t allow anyone to force you to flee your homes. We must be united and have the firm belief that with God on our side we have nothing to fear”, Hussaini said.
Also speaking, Uztaz Adam Usman cautioned against rumours making round to instill fear that Yola would be attacked and urged those contemplating running away from Yola as a solution to have a change of mind.
“He said: Stay and face the challenge; you must not allow them to continue pushing you until you reach the Atlantic.
“Death is once and you only die when God decreed; if God said you will die, death will catch up with you anywhere”, Usman said.
He also called for sustained prayer and unity against Boko Haram.
Similarly, thousands of Christians who observed services in various parts of the state offered same prayers. The state branch chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Fr Moses Taparki, said that special prayers had been on since the insurgency started and would be sustained.
“We prayed for peace alone with many Internally Displaced Persons and urged for all hands to be on deck for a lasting peace in Adamawa and other trouble spots across the nation”, Taparki said.
Also speaking, the North-east Coordinator of Inter-Faith International has stressed the need for fervent prayers. “I am appealing to all residents of the state to observe fasting and prayers to seek Allah’s mercy towards ending the crisis facing us”, he said, adding, “I believe we should continue to seek Allah’s help towards restoring peace in the state”.
He bemoaned the human and material devastation caused by the renewed killings by terrorists, saying there can be no other time to seek God’s intervention.
In the meantime, reports said the military have stepped up air bombardment to tackle Boko Haram with a view to intensify deployment of troops and equipment around the area.
It also said it has revved up aerial bombardment with a view to restoring normalcy to communities sacked by the insurgents.
“Necessary deployment of troops and equipment is ongoing to reverse all recent violation and breach of security by terrorists and criminals operating in parts of the country,” spokesperson for the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, said in a statement.