There is confusion regarding the extent of the Boko Haram problem in the Borno State as politicians give contrasting versions over the issue.
While the senator representing Borno Central in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Baba Kaka Garbai, maintains the terrorists have some control of local government areas, Governor Kashim Shettima insists the state is not under occupation by the feared sect.
Garbai, who went to Dalori last weekend on a condolence visit and offered financial and material assistance to the people of the village, said “the truth must be told” that Boko Haram has full control of three separate local governments in the troubled Borno State and some level of dominance in 21 other local government areas.
However, the governor, in a quick reaction shortly after returning to Maiduguri from an official visit to Saudi Arabia, said the claim by the senator that the military had not been able to degrade Boko Haram and that the state was substantially under the control of the insurgents was either an “emotional outburst” or perhaps he was quoted out of context.
“As the Chief Security Officer of Borno State I can tell you authoritatively that no local government is under the occupation of Boko Haram. Our military deserves commendation because all my local government areas have been liberated,” said Shettima.
He said “only a few” insurgents remained in the Sambisa forest, where they continue to launch some pockets of attacks as a result of the ongoing bombardment by the military.
“It is either the senator was emotional or misquoted. The military has recorded tremendous successes in the fight against Boko Haram in the last six months,” Shettima said.
He mentioned Ngala, Dikwa and some areas recently liberated.
“As the Chief Security Officer of the state, I can confidently say Boko Haram has been decimated, demoralised and degraded. Borno is better off than it was six months ago,” Shettima said.
However, the Garbai said reports the military had overpowered the insurgents were “wrong assumptions.
“In reality, this is not true in the sense that apart from Maiduguri Metropolis, Bayo and Kwaya Kusar, which are under the occupation of the Nigerian government and where the military and police are maintaining law and order, Mobbar, Abadam and Kala Balge are 100-percent occupied by the insurgents,” said the senator.
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He added, “There are some local governments that are partially occupied by the insurgents especially as the local government secretariats have been liberated but their hither-lands are still controlled by the insurgents.”
He claimed Konduga, which was liberated, still had many communities in the local government area under the insurgents.
He said six wards in Gwoza local government area were still occupied by the insurgents.
“From my count, only three local government areas are fully liberated. 21 local governments are partially occupied by insurgents. There is still some level of Boko Haram occupation side by side the military or any other constituted authority.”
“We should not live under the illusion that Boko Haram are decimated or weaken, these are not reality and neither a true reflection of the reality.”
With the Army commencing investigations into the recent attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on communities close to Maiduguri, hopes thus are high the true extent of the Boko Haram crisis can be unravelled.