Seven days after Boko Haram insurgents seized Mubi, the commercial nerve centre and second largest town in Adamawa as well as Vimtim, home town of Defence Chief, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the Federal Government, yesterday, gave a marching order to the military to flush out the terrorists from the occupied areas immediately.
This happened on a day that more than 23 people were killed after two suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers burst into the Shi’ite Muslim procession in Potiskum, Yobe State to commemorate the new Islamic calendar. It was also a day gunmen attacked Kogi prison, setting 145 inmates free.
In Adamawa, to ensure that the terrorists were flushed out from the occupied areas, more attack helicopter gunships and surveillance aircraft were deployed, yesterday, while the new General Officer Commanding 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General FO Alli, whose Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes Adamawa State, was said to have relocated to Yola.
It was gathered that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. KTJ Minimah tasked him to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that Mubi and Vimtim were retaken in the shortest possible time.
The Federal Government was said to have given the military the marching order following intelligence reports that the new upsurge in Boko Haram attacks may have been influenced by political motives to ensure that political activities do not take place in the North East zone of the country.
Vanguard gathered that a time frame was given to the GOC and the Commander of the Air Force Strike Group in Yola within which to push out the terrorists. Air Force helicopter gunships (Mi35 and the Super Puma attack helicopters) have commenced softening the grounds with light attacks preparatory to a massive onslaught, it was gathered.
A senior officer who spoke to Vanguard disclosed that by the directive the Government wanted to prove the insurgents wrong that they can take over Mubi and nothing will happen. The thinking has created uncertainty among residents of Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.
The Federal Government’s directive it was further gathered, followed intelligence findings which showed that with the successful derailment of the failed bid of the group to invade and take over Maiduguri, using Konduga and Kawuri as launch pad, they have turned to plan ‘B’ which is to push for Yola.
Suicide bombers kill 23 in Yobe
Meanwhile, on the suicide bombing in Potiskum, the incident was said to have taken place at about 10 am on Old Market Road. 48 people were injured in the first blast; before the other suicide bomber was arrested yesterday by the police. Speaking on the incident in Damaturu, the Police Commissioner; Danladi Markus in a telephone interview said:
“There was a Monday morning blast in Potiskum, that claimed the lives of more than a dozen people with the injuring of others, but I cannot give you the exact figure as I am on my way to the scene of the blast, 100 kilometres from the state capital. At this moment, I am travelling to Postiskum to assess the extent of damage to both lives and property.
“One of the suspects was arrested at the blast scene, while the military and police rescue teams have evacuated many people to Postiskum hospital for treatment.”
Hamza Isa, a resident of Potiskum also said: “When the blast went off by 10am this morning, all of us ran in different directions for safety, as the explosion rented the air with deafening sounds before soldiers and policemen rushed to the blast scene near the Old Market.
“The security operatives responded with sporadic gunshots to show their readiness to stem any further attack on the town and this caused panic among traders to flee into various directions, leaving the streets and market empty for over three hours.”
Similarly, during last Saturday’s nomination of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam at the August 27 Stadium, Damaturu, a disruption threat letter was issued to operatives of security agencies in the state, before yesterday’s blast in Potiskum that claimed lives of innocent residents.
Meanwhile, Governor Gaidam has condemned the attack, describing it as heinous, barbaric and unwarranted. A statement signed by the governor’s spokesman, Alhaji Abdullahi Bego said:
“Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam has been informed of an attack in Potiskum town on Monday (yesterday) during an annual procession of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, marking Ashurah. The governor notes that those behind the attack are criminals who want to fan the embers of religious discord. He called on all the people of the state to remain calm and vigilant.
“Governor Gaidam has prayed the Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant eternal repose to those killed in the attack and quick recovery to those who sustained injuries”.
The governor, according to the statement, has also directed government hospitals in the area to provide immediate free medical treatment to all victims of the attack.