Boko Haram, in its onslaught on education and society in general, has destroyed 27 schools in Yobe and Borno states in the recent attacks, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Kano State Police Command Thursday arrested eight people over a foiled bombing bid.
In a statement, it said that at about 0730 hours when some of its patrol men were heading to a duty post on Ring Road, a Golf taxi was following them from which an explosive was thrown into the police vehicle.
The policemen disembarked from their vehicle immediately, cordoned the area and apprehended the occupants of the Golf car, the statement said, adding that no injury was sustained during the operation.
On its part, the Nigerian Army confirmed that following the November 25 twin suicide bombing of a church inside the Jaji Military Cantonment, the military, Police and State Security Service (SSS) are stepping up “lots of successful operations” in Maiduguri (Borno), Damaturu (Yobe), Kano and Kaduna states aimed at rooting out terror cells and operatives of the Boko Haram and other violent groups.
The Army also confirmed that the same operation was already underway in Suleja, near the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and that “a lot of bad guys are being arrested.”
According to the agency, 17 secondary schools and 10 Tsangaya (Islamic) schools at Damaturu, Potiskum, Fika and Gashua were among those torched.
Speaking in Maiduguri to journalists, NEMA’s North-East Information Officer, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, while assessing the level of destruction of the schools, said that relief materials would be distributed next week.
The Army explained that the redeployment of the Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) Jaji, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Abdullahi Kure and the Corps Commander, Infantry Corps Centre, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Danhanne Isa was to enable the twin Boards of Inquiry (BoI) set up by both Defence and Army Headquarters to have “the right atmosphere for thorough investigations. The change was not a punishment but part of measures to enable a new hand to tackle lapses, shortcomings and limitations that would be identified in the course of investigations.”
While AVM Kure has been deployed to the Nigerian Air Force Holdings as Group Managing Director, Maj.-Gen. Isa is yet to be deployed.
Director of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Ahmed Tijani Jubril also confirmed that the BoIs have concluded their sitting but “the reports have not been submitted. The Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff are waiting for the reports.”
Jubril stated: “The incident (Jaji Cantonment twin bombing) is a very sad event. It is thus not surprising to witness the volume of reaction to the incident. Indeed, because of the negative effect of the terrorist attack, it became very expedient for the military authorities to immediately take necessary steps to contain these effects, reassure personnel and prevent reoccurrence. The Boards of Inquiry and changes in some appointments are inevitable steps.”
Jubril also told journalists at the Army Headquarters Abuja that the military and other security agencies are putting in place new measures and reviewing existing ones to ensure the security of lives and property around the country.
Such measures also include enforcement of rules on having only “legal dependants” living with military or civilian personnel in the barracks. Also, because of the porous nature of the barracks due to most of them not being fenced, all commanders have been directed to enforce stricter static and mobile patrols and improvement in checking persons or vehicles within the general area of barracks.
The DMI said the Army “is more concerned about measure being put in place and additional measures being taken. And some of the existing measures are being reviewed. It must be pointed out that earlier attacks on military barracks prompted the review of policies, measures and standards to be adopted in all military locations to prevent reoccurrence. Commanders at all levels were directed to adopt these measures in securing their areas of responsibilities.”
Jubril also decried insinuations by a Muslim interest group that “religious sentiments” were involved in the redeployment of AVM Kure and Maj.-Gen. Isa who are both Muslims and were replaced by Christians, saying that in February this year when an attack by the Boko Haram sect on 1 Division was carried out, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Maj.-Gen. Joseph Shoboiki (Christian) was replaced by Maj.-Gen. Garba Abdulwahab (Muslim). “Nobody then raised the issue of religious sentiments or connotations.”
Jubril also said that in the 82 Division of the Army, while the GOC, Maj.-Gen. Oluwaseun Oshinowo is Christian, all his Brigade and Battalion commanders are Muslims.
He restated that “the aim of Nigerian Army involvement (in the terror fight) is to defeat terrorists and other criminals and to ensure security of lives and property so that national developmental activities are carried out in peaceful atmosphere.”
The destruction of schools in Boko Haram’s campaign of terror yesterday drew the wrath of a non-governmental organisation, the Neo-Black Movement (NBM) of Africa, which warned the militant Islamist group against “hurting any of our members in your murderous activities.”
In a statement yesterday, NBM’s Head (Worldwide), Mr. Bemigho Eyeoyibo, said: “In the past we urged government to, using a carrot and stick approach, dialogue with Boko Haram to know their grievances. We may have to review our position in the light of Boko Haram’s indiscriminate killings, including children and other innocent people.
“NBM is a pan-Africanist organisation that believes in the unity of black people worldwide as a race with a common experience and destiny. Therefore, we do not take positions based on ethnic, religious, nationalist or other negative primordial considerations. But the bombing of religious or worship centres, schools, markets and other places where ordinary poor and exploited Africans are found in large numbers is reprehensible and provocative.
“The danger in these senseless terrorist acts is that members of equally militant or fearless groups may be killed thus creating more enemies for Boko Haram. We warn Boko Haram leaders against hurting any member of NBM because our ranks include Moslems, Christians and people of other faiths spread across all continents including the Arab and Islamic Nations.”