Boko Haram fighters (Photo: Google)
By Valentine Amanze
Niger State government has confirmed the Boko Haram’s takeover of many communities/ villages in the state, stressing that the insurgents were wooing residents with money to support their mission of fighting Nigerian government.
Suleiman Chukuba, the chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area in Niger State, which borders Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and the Niger State Information Commissioner, Muhammad Sani Idris, disclosed the urgly development at the weekend.
Chukuba told Reuters that Boko Haram fighters were now present in at least eight wards out of a total 25, while appealing to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to send troops to flush them out the area.
“Shiroro Local Government Area has an uncountable number of Boko Haram fighters,” he said.
Corraborating, the commissioner, Idris, said that Boko Haram fighters, who were initially thought to be armed bandits, had made inroads in the state.
Idris further disclosed that the state government and security agencies had been able to curtail the spread.
His words: “We are doing whatever it takes as a state. And we will combine the methods of our security personnel and our local vigilantes.”
The Islamist group is typically concentrated in the northeast of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, and its presence in Niger, a state that borders the federal capital territory, could indicate a concerning spread at a time the military says its counter-insurgency efforts are working.
Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden”, has waged an insurgency since 2009, joined more recently by its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province. The fight has caused Nigeria almost 350,000 people and displaced millions, according to a United Nations estimate..
Shiroro has a population of 331,000 people and spans 4,700 square kilometres, according to Niger State’s official website.
Recall that the Nigerian Army said last month that close to 6,000 fighters from Boko Haram had recently surrendered, attributing the development to the military’s counter-insurgency efforts.