Niger’s landmass aiding Boko Haram, ISWAP operations, says govt

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By Mohammed Usman

Niger State government has lamented that its landmass which used to be a blessing is now becoming a source of pain as Boko Haram and the ISWAP forces are openly operating in Borgu and Shiroro local government areas.

The state at the moment cannot give vivid account of the number of attacks and casualties because attacks and invasions by the armed men are almost daily in some distant remote villages, including Borgu, Babana and along fringes of Benin and Niger Republics.

Secretary to Niger State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, disclosed this while briefing journalists for the first time about the seeming complicating security situation and effeorts being made by the state government to check the trend.

The briefing is coming after months of attacks and counter-attacks by the terrorist group whose activities caused the killing of both members of security forces and civilian targets and as well abduction of hundreds of people, particlarly women and their daughters and properties destroyed.

Matane said that efforts by the ISWAP and Boko Haram, who already have strong hold in Zamfara State forests and in Chukun area of Kaduna State to establish santuary in Niger State have not been possible successful notwithstanding the state verse land to its advantage.

“Some villages and local government areas will take you as much as seven hours before you get there. How do you engage a group of people who use sophisticated equipment, satellite phones and gun trucks with the type of equipment we have?” he said.

He said that like Niger State, all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja have been infiltrated by the combined ISWAP and Boko Haram joint forces trying to inductrinate their victims with their islamic ideologies.

“There is appreciable number of joint ISWAP and Boko Haram forces along boarder town to Benin Republic and they have been trying to istall Hakimis and forcing communities to pay a kind of royalty for traders and farmers before allowing them to access their farmlands.

“They were the ones responsible for the kidnap of the Dodo of Wawa,” he said.

In trying to establish a Kalipha around the Kainji National Park located in Borgu Local Government Area, the SSG said that the group tried to deceive the locals by claiming that they were not bandits, but are sent by God as they try indoctrinating them with their beliefs.

“Though Benin Republic has closed boarders against them, the joint ISWAP/Boko-Haram is operating around the periphery trying to discourage the locals from sending their children to school and accept their teachings and to forget about what the government is telling them,” he said.

On the possibility of states in the north-central forming a joint force to tackle the menace headlong, the SSG said forming a joint force was not going to be possible but every state has its own way of approaching security threats hence the more challenges facing Niger State.

Lamenting that states battle to free its citizens from the crutches of Boko Haram and ISWAP has been doing so without much help from outside, Matane regreted that, “Insecurity, a national issue may not end too soon except if it is tackled headlong using federal might”.

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