Gun battle in Borno as JTF, terrorists clash

soldiers-patroling-Soldiers shoot Kaduna official in Boko Haram scare

IN an incident that illustrates how the current state of insecurity has put everyone on edge, soldiers and policemen attached to Government House, Kaduna yesterday opened fire on a Director in the state Ministry of Information, Mr. Isuwa Kiforo, after he was mistaken for a Boko Haram suicide bomber.

Kiforo, who was in his official car, allegedly forced his way into the exit gate of the Government House. He was immediately rushed to the nearby 44 Military Hospital for medical attention.

Eyewitnesses said when the security men conducted a search on the car, nothing incriminating was found in it.

In another incident, armed men suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect on Sunday attacked the patrol vehicles of military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Budum ward of Maiduguri metropolis of Borno State.

Also, seven people were reportedly killed in another attack at Baga, a border community with Chad Republic, 267 kilometres North-East of Maiduguri.

Spokesman of the JTF, Lt.-Col. Hassan Mohammed, said the gunmen ambushed the patrol vehicles in Budum ward at about 9.00 p.m. but could not give details on whether or not there were casualties in the attack.

Mohammed said: “As soon as we complete our investigations into last night’s attacks on patrol vehicles and checkpoints, we will brief all of you.”

But a mortuary attendant at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital told The Guardian that the remains of five soldiers and nine civilians were brought to the hospital’s morgue yesterday morning.

In an interview with reporters on Monday in Maiduguri, spokesman of the sect, Boko Haram, who identified himself as Abul Qaqa, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He said the arrest of Abul Qaqa and re-arrest of Kabiru Sokoto at Mutum Biyu, Taraba State, would not “frighten or discourage” the sect members from fighting for the establishment of the Sharia legal system in the North.

Qaqa stated: “We are not tired or frightened by the propaganda of security agents on our capabilities, as the Almighty God is on our side in establishing Sharia in Nigeria.”

He also warned the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM) companies against tracking Boko Haram members’ locations for arrest.             

Speaking at a media briefing called over the incident, Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State, Bala Nasarawa, said:   “Today, February 13, 2012, at about 1328 hours, a combined team of security personnel attached to Government House main gate, Kaduna, intercepted a Toyota Corolla Saloon car with Kaduna State official registration number, Kaduna KD-06-A 04. The driver drove dangerously in a suspicious manner towards the Government House gate.

“The security personnel stopped the lone occupant but instead of stopping, he forced himself through the exit gate and found his way into the Government House.

“The security agencies thereafter, opened fire and shot the suspect on the leg and the lower abdominal part of his body.

“The suspect was later identified as Pastor Isuwa Kiforo (M) of No. 7, Abba Rimi Road, Narayi, Kaduna, who is the Director, Finance and Administration, Ministry of Information, Kaduna State.”

“He was rushed to 44 Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, for treatment after he was given first aid by a team of medical personnel attached to the Government House.”

Nasarawa added: “The vehicle was thoroughly searched in my presence by our anti-bomb disposal experts and nothing incriminating was recovered. In essence, neither weapon nor explosives were found in it. Investigation into the case has commenced.”

Meanwhile, the Plateau State government has donated food items worth millions of naira to the 400 Christians who fled Boko Haram attacks in Yobe State and are taking refuge in the state.

Besides, the state government has also provided accommodation at Tati Hotel for the use of the refugees pending when peace returns to the state.

Donating the items yesterday to the internally displaced persons, the Plateau State government said it felt touched by the plight of the persecuted Christians in Yobe State.

Commissioner for Environment, Mrs. Sarah Yusuf, represented the state government.

According to Yusuf, the donated items include 100 pieces of mattresses, 100 pieces of pillows, 250 pieces of blankets, 100 pieces of mats, 100 bags of per-boiled rice, 10 bags of 50kg of sugar, 10 cartons of Royco, 10 cartons of toilet soap, 10 cartons of washing soap and 10 cartons of jelly pomade.

Others are salt, tissue papers, tomatoes, pepper, onions, vegetable and palm oil, garri, beans, maize, cooking ports, sweeping brooms, plastic buckets, rubber plates, rubber spoons, plastic cups, smoked fish and kerosene.

Five overhead tanks that can hold 3,000 litres of fresh water each were also donated to the refugees.

President, Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Dr. Soja Bewarang, thanked the state government for its generosity and magnanimity.

Bewarang charged elected officials to condemn the persecution of Christians in the North.

In a related development, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has expressed worry that the Boko Haram insurgency may spread in the region and tasked the Nigerian government to rein in the attackers.

At the opening of a five-day workshop on ECOWAS Budgetary Procedures in Enugu, Fourth Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and a member of the Ghanaian legislature, Michael Teye Nyaunu, noted that the fact that Nigeria was now facing serious challenges leading to killings of innocent people and destruction of property, was an indication that other smaller Africa countries could face similar problems unless efforts were made to tackle the trend.

Nyaunu stated: “Some people have come up with different reasons why Boko Haram is ravaging Nigeria. Some say it is because of power tussle; that the North wants power back at all cost, while others are saying it has serious religious connotation. Whichever way one looks at it, Boko Haram activities are not in the best interest of Africa and we are concerned.

“We believe that the authorities concerned are handling it. If nothing serious is done at this stage, it will eventually spread because we are the same people. So something must be done now to contain it.”


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