The Nigerian Army has blamed victims of Boko Haram attack in Auno, a village 25 kilometers away from the main town of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The military stated this while reacting to the accusation by the state governor, Babagana Zulum, that they were to be blamed for the attack that is reported to have claimed the lives of over 30 citizens.
Mr Zulum in blaming the military said the incident occurred due to the withdrawal of military personnel from the affected area.
“Since my inauguration as the governor of Borno State from May 29th to date, Auno town has been attacked for about six times now. And the reason is that the military has withdrawn from Auno town,” the governor said in anger when he visited the scene of the attack.
“We have made repeated plea to the military to re-establish a base in Auno since it is one of the flashpoints of the Boko Haram, but nothing has been done to that effect,” he added.
A military commander who was with the governor during the visit attempted to argue that soldiers were on ground in the area but the governor rebuffed him that “no you were not here.”
“Please we are not here to fight or argue; the fact is that nobody was here.
“There were no soldiers here; they have all withdrawn. We are not being confrontational or undermining the capacity of the Nigerian military, but the fact is that we have made several attempts for the Nigerian military to establish their unit in Auno but nothing was done.
“As soon as it is 5 o’clock and they closed up their gate, they abandon the people and move over to Maiduguri. You have to tell us if you are willing to establish your unit in Auno or not.
“If you are not willing to ask your soldiers to relocate and establish their unit in Auno so that the people here can return and live their normal lives, you can tell us, so that we can know what to do as government,” he said.
Reacting, the Theatre Commander, Olusegun Adeniyi, said the attack would not have happened if travellers plying the road had heeded the directive of the military which banned movement on the road once it is 6pm.
“By the day we are busy securing the Maiduguri-Damaturu road ensuring that commuters were able to move, and the road has been safe since and that’s why since the last attack the road has remained safe, and by night we go after these Boko haram that are actually coming to attack people in their communities,” Mr Adeniyi said.
“The army usually carries its night attack and ambushes on Boko Haram with the understanding that the road has been closed to commuters and there are no vehicles on the road. And the incident of yesterday was still surprising and we must examine it; if that road is really safe. If you know that this road closes by 5 o’clock, from either Maiduguri or Damaturu side, then why are you plying it at about 3pm? You will find out that there were about 200 vehicles lined up in Auno, in Jakana, in Mainok, in Ngamdu and even in Kukareta.
“Many times they would even be seen insisting that the soldiers should open the roads for them to get to either Damaturu or Maiduguri. It is not safe to be lining up such a large number of vehicles in this village especially knowing the wicked intentions of Boko Haram.
“If you are going to ply the Damaturu-Maiduguri road, for a slow car, make sure you are on that road by 3 o’clock in the afternoon so that you can clear off before 5 o’clock. And if you are driving a big truck, make sure you have started your journey around 12 or 1pm so that within 5 hours you have cleared all the road.
“The public must understand the soldiers expected to go on night patrols in the bushes cannot again be drawn to the road to protect vehicles of people that refused to obey the law; they refused to obey rules and regulations. Nigerians have to look into this matter critically.
Soldiers shouldn’t be diverted from their night operations to go and protect vehicles of people that found themselves where they were not supposed to be. That road closes by 5pm. You cannot be on the road that has been closed to prevent Boko Haram movement; now that they cannot move, they came to set the place on fire.
“The press should help me to communicate to the public, this is an appeal that we don’t want to see vehicles plying that road once it is 5 o’clock,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, whose administration had severally claimed to have decimated the terrorists, described the attack said to have occurred on Sunday as “cowardly.”
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