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Borno residents: After surviving Boko Haram attack, soldiers burnt our village

Borno residents: After surviving Boko Haram attack, soldiers burnt our village
June 12
20:43 2017

Victims of last Wednesday’s Boko Haram attack in Ali Dawari village in the Jere area of  Maiduguri, Borno state capital, have accused the Nigeria army of burning their village and looting their property.

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On June 7, Boko Haram insurgents invaded Maiduguri through Alidawari, killing two persons and injuring many residents, including minors.

However, four village heads – Bulama Umar, Muhammad Malam, Goni Alidawari and Bulama Mustapha – have alleged that the army burnt their village and dispossessed them of their property.

“The illegal raid was carried out by groups of armed personnel headed by one Captain Sai’du, a sector commander in the area under the 7 division of Operation Lafiya Dole,” Goni, one of the village heads, said.

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He said two military formations were stationed about one kilometre from the village, but that none of the units responded to the villagers’ distress calls during the attack.

“The military was informed about the attack by one of our civilian JTF who also witnessed the presence of the insurgents, but the troops did not respond,” he said.

“Several distressed calls were made to one Captain Sai’du who was the sector commander of the area, but after receiving a first call from our civilian JTF, he never picked his mobile phone or sent any reinforcement.

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“All the soldiers stationed at one kilometre from Alidawari also took to their heels during the attack while our people were left to their fate to either stay or die or devised an emergency option.

“It was through this same military formations that the insurgents passed through into Jiddari Polo, federal high court area and commit all their atrocities without any confrontation or any form of anticipation from the military. They did not even try to stop them from attacking the town.

“If the military were really serious about rooting out the insurgents, why didn’t they lay an ambush for them because they used only one route to penetrate the town and used the same road to escape?

“They said their reason was because Boko Haram spent over three hours in Ali-dawari before storming the town. If it is true, then how come they killed two of our villagers?

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“If they actually knew Boko Haram spent three hours in Ali-dawari, then what stops them from going after them, after all our people had all runaway.

“What was their proof that we the people of Addawari supported Boko Haram terrorists? If we actually supported them as they erroneously claimed, then why did we all run away for our lives?

“On that very day, the insurgents killed one of our civilian JTF members as well as some of our villagers, while many others were wounded and currently at hospitalised.

“This was the second attack on our village by Boko Haram terrorists; first was in December 2015, where they killed about 46 people of which 18 were my blood relatives.

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“Instead of the military to protect our people, they are now burning our houses and chasing us out for no reason.

Maina Mustapha, a resident, corroborated Goni’s statement. He said that the action of the military showed that they could not be relied on.

He said the army allowed Boko Haram to invade Maiduguri without any challenge and that “they are now blaming the law abiding people of Ali-dawari for their failure”.

“The attack would have been avoided if the military had responded to the several distress calls made by our youth vigilante,” he said.

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Ibrahim Yusuf, a witness said many residents were yet to recover from the trauma caused by the insurgents.

“You won’t believe that the army refused to allow us to even pick the corpses of our people that were killed during the attack,” he said.

“Instead of protecting our lives and property, you are now looting our property and setting our houses ablaze. This is an act of injustice and violation of our funddamental right as citizens of Nigeria.”

Recounting his experience, Yusuf said some soldiers led by one Sai’du came to the village and asked everyone to leave the place

“We asked the officer why we should vacate our village, he said we allowed Boko Haram terrorist to pass through our village and attack Maiduguri,” he said.

“They also accused us of aiding and abetting as well as sympathising with the insurgents, which was why we refused to inform them or any security agency.

“On Sunday as of 1pm, precisely, they came and gathered all the villagers and said that we have just three hours to vacate the place.

“Because of the short notification, many people especially old men and women were not able to pack their belongings.

“I managed to get some of my important things out of my house and took them to my relative home in Damboa road in Maiduguri.

“While I was returning to pick up my other belongings, at 3:30 pm to my surprise, I saw three army trucks and that of the civilian JTF loaded with our property.

“I had to hide somewhere because if they noticed I saw them, they would kill me. Some minutes later, I started to see flames everywhere which implied that they had burnt down the whole of the village.”

Abdulmalik Ibrahim, another resident, also claimed he saw soldiers looting property in the village.

“We have six witnesses who saw them looting our property. For now we cannot quantify the level of destructions or number of houses burnt because they refused to allow us to enter the village,” he said.

Yana Abdallah, a 72-year-old woman, said lamented that she had nowhere to go to, saying the army destroyed all her property including food items for Ramadan.

“They did not allow me to take anything, all my food, clothes and everything was burnt by the army,” she said.

Efforts made to get the reaction did not yield the desired result as Sani Usman, spokesman of the army, could not be reached for comments as he neihter answered calls nor responded to the text message sent to his telephone line.The army and other security agencies were yet to make any official statement on the matter as of the time of filing this report.

The military is yet to make any official statement on the matter as of the time of filing this report.

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