Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has said there is an urgent need for the military and all security forces to work in synergy to crush the Islamic State’s West Africa Province terrorists.
This is just as he said until now, two local governments are under Boko Haram.
According to the Governor, as Boko Haram insurgents continue to surrender in their thousands, the ISWAP terrorists become more sophisticated, deadly and continue to increase in number.
He made this assertion on Wednesday at the Council Chambers of the Government House, while briefing members of the Senate Committee on the Army led by Ali Ndume, monitored by Headlinenews..
Zulum said ISWAP fighters were more sophisticated, educated, armed and brutal than Boko Haram terrorists and that as such, their operations were becoming more pronounced around the southern and extreme northern parts of Borno State.
The Governor stated, “It is an early warning for us as a government to understand the working system of ISWAP. We need to check them, chase them out while at their early stage, before they become stronger and a serious problem for us to handle.
“They have been carrying out attacks in the southern and core northern part of Borno State. ISWAP has checkpoints between Damboa and Biu. They are collecting taxes from communities in these areas. Some few days ago, I got a very good intelligence that they held a wedding for over 300 fighters in the Mandara Mountains and they rode over 300 motorcycles. Something needs to be done.”
He said despite the latest development, the situation was not as bad as it was some years back as peace was gradually returning to the state and villagers were engaging in farming activities thanks to the newfound working synergy among the stakeholders.
“Somewhere along the line, we were able to understand the missing link. The missing link is synergy. There was no synergy between the government, the military, the police, the Civilian JTF and all other partners,” the governor added.
Meanwhile, Zulum has cautioned Ndume against making comments that will incite the populace against repentant Boko Haram insurgents, who are being reintegrated into the society.
The Governor said the Senator had been inciting in his comments, which ideally should not be made by a patriotic citizen of Borno State.
Zulum said, “I only have one discrepancy with Senator Ali Ndume. I heard him criticising the repentant terrorists and I felt that this should not have come from someone from Borno. I called him to register my disappointment with his comments. We know where we were before now. Ndume cannot go to his hometown without security escort.
“Ndume’s hometown, Hambagda, has been deserted for the past seven years and no one is living there. Ninety-five per cent of his people cannot go to their farms till this moment. But the situation is different since we started witnessing the surrender of the terrorists. Areas under cultivation have increased by 700 per cent and farmers have had bumper harvest this year.
“Whether we like it or not, we have to welcome these repentant Boko Haram insurgents although some of them may not be genuine, but quite a number of them are genuine. Relative peace is gradually returning to the state; as such, we should encourage them to surrender and not incite the locals against them.
“Out of the over 20,000 that have surrendered, about 5,000 of them are fighters; so, imagine the destruction these fighters would have caused if they haven’t surrendered. Until now, two local government areas of Borno State, Abadam and Guzamala, are still under the firm control of Boko Haram.
“Some communities in eight local government areas, including Gwoza, Damboa, Bama and Chibok a still have elements of Boko Haram insurgents.”
Zulum said the State Government would continue to explore avenues to encourage the insurgents to surrender their arms for peace to return to the state under his administration.