Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boko Haram: University of Maiduguri Shut

Lt.Gen. Azubike Ihejirika, Chief of Army Staff

By John Shiklam, Michael Olugbode and Segun Awofadeji

Responding to the security challenge in Borno State, the management of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) has shut the institution indefinitely.
Speaking to journalists Monday, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed, said the decision was taken by the committee of provosts, deans and directors on behalf of the Senate.
He said the decision became imperative as a result of the growing insecurity in the state and the need of the institution to be proactive.
He advised the students to go home and stay under the protection of their parents.
An exodus of residents of Maiduguri metropolis was noticed at the various motor parks in the city following the growing insecurity in the area as a result of the clashes between the Joint military Task Force (JTF) and Boko Haram.
But a number of those who turned up at the motor parks to leave the town were stranded as there were not enough vehicles to convey them out of the city.
When THISDAY visited the motor parks Monday morning, many of the residents were seen with their luggage leaving in droves for Kaduna, Kano and Potiskum, among other towns.
Some of them that could not afford the high fare charged by the transporters had to join trailers out of town even as some others were stranded at the motor parks considering what their next action would be.
One of them, who spoke to THISDAY, said he could no longer continue to stay in the town as his only source of living, commercial motorcycling, had been banned, adding that his security and that of his family could no longer be guaranteed.
But barely 24 hours after a joint military operation against the sect in Maiduguri that claimed 30 lives, the group, in what looked like a reprisal, bombed a relaxation joint on Sunday night in Kaduna, injuring seven persons.
The incident occurred at about 10:30 pm near a popular drinking joint at Fokados Street in the metropolis.
A resident of the area, who witnessed the explosion, said the bomb was hidden in a refuse bin near Ngozi Beer Parlour, a popular relaxation point in the area.
“It was around 10:30 pm when everybody in the joint was just getting ready to go back home because of the curfew by 11:00 pm when the bomb exploded from a nearby refuse bin,” he said.
The explosion was said to have caused serious confusion in the neighbourhood and other adjourning streets like Oshogbo Street, Bony Street as well as Obalande Street, another popular drinking joint at Maiduguri Road.
Military personnel were said to be the first to arrive the scene of the incident before the police came about 20 minutes later.
Residents of the area within the explosion zone were said to have refused to go to sleep for fear of further attacks until around 1:00 am when the military forced them to go into their houses.
Several efforts to get the reaction of the spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Aminu Lawan, deputy superintendent of police, yesterday, proved abortive as his telephone was switched off.
But sources at the Magajin-Gari Police Station, located close to the area, confirmed the incident.
Meanwhile, the Commander of the JTF established by the Federal Government to check the excesses of Boko Haram, Major General Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo, has restated that the soldiers, who carried out last Saturday’s operation against the sect, did not kill anyone except members of the group who had earlier launched an attack on them.
Speaking on the operation that took place at Kalari area within Maiduguri metropolis where the soldiers were accused by the residents of taking out civilians from their houses and shooting them, he said: “Soldiers are not animals and they cannot be killing people anyhow.”
He said those killed were identified as members of the sect who had earlier attacked his men who went after them and exchanged gun fire with them.
He said the clampdown on members of the group had made residents of the metropolis to start fleeing the city, adding that even before his men came, many people had started leaving the town because of the threat of Boko Haram.
He assured the people that peace would soon return to the city and there was no need to panic.
In a related development, security operatives in Bauchi have arrested two suspected members of Boko Haram at a military checkpoint in the Bauchi metropolis.
The suspects were arrested on Sunday night at the checkpoint while attempting to escape from the state. Bauchi State Police Command spokesman, Mohammed Barau, assistant superintendent of police, who confirmed the arrest, said the suspects were members of the Boko Haram who escaped last week’s police raid at Kur ward of the metropolis.
Barau said that the suspects, three in number, were intercepted at the military checkpoint trying to escape en-route Gombe Road, adding that when two of them were arrested, the third, a driver escaped with the car they were travelling in.
He said the security agents in collaboration with the state government were doing everything possible to flush out members of the sect from the state and urged the residents to go about their normal businesses.

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