21st July, 2011
Tension has continued to grip residents of Maiduguri following the deployment of more soldiers to the Borno State capital, Northeast Nigeria as well as the fear of the residents that they could be hit by bomb attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist sect.
Many of the residents have continued to relocate from the metropolis either to other states in the North or their states of origin.
P.M.NEWS investigation revealed that there is a semblance of calm in Maiduguri for about four days as the bombings subsided.
While some residents have attributed it to the security provided by the Joint Task Force, JTF soldiers, others believe the Boko Haram sect members had sheathe their swords.
However, Maiduguri residentsâ€™ hope for peace was dashed when on Tuesday, the Boko Haram militants struck again. They targeted a JTF van with their bomb around Bukunkutu area of Maiduguri.
They successfully hit their target and injured two police officers and a naval officer.
The bomb attack made residents to renew their efforts at relocating from Maiduguri. Scores of non indigenes have been sending their wives and children to other states in the North they considered safe or their states of origin.
The JTF soldiers have not helped matters either. They have been mandated to clear any spot where there is bomb explosion. The soldiers therefore harass anyone in sight without reservation. Innocent residents are intimidated by the soldiers.
The residents have therefore joined other Nigerians to demand for the withdrawal of the soldiers whom they believe were adding to their security problems.
To worsen the situation, residents have imposed a curfew on themselves. Only people who have cars could go out at about 6 p.m. Anyone who dared move out in the evening will trek long distance before he could return home.
A resident told P.M.NEWS this morning: â€œNobody wants to go out at night and trek long distance to return home. Therefore, most residents stay indoors for fear of bomb explosion and the agony of trekking home at night.â€
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan met Wednesday with northern elders on the menace of Islamist sect Boko Haram blamed for a spate of deadly bomb and gun attacks especially in the city of Maiduguri.
â€œThe president this afternoon (yesterday) held a broad-based consultation with leaders from Borno State, the North East and Arewa Consultative Forum on the security situation in Borno state and other parts of the north,â€ Information Minister Labaran Maku said.
The meeting explored different options to bring about peace and security in the beleaguered state and other affected areas in northern Nigeria, said the minister who briefed journalists after the meeting. He did not give details.
The meeting, which he said was â€œvery fruitfulâ€, focused on finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram crisis, he said.
â€œAll hands have to be on deck, political leaders, community leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders so that together, we can look at ways to bring about solution,â€ said Maku.
The minister said that it would be â€œprematureâ€ to withdraw troops Jonathan sent to Maiduguri last month to restore order in the troubled city.
Some residents of the city, politicians and political leaders have recently called for the withdrawal of the troops, which they, along with Amnesty International, accused of human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, rape and burning of houses.
Amnesty said 25 people were killed during a recent military raid. It called for a probe into the killings.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) has denied the charges.
â€œThere were broad based consultations about the outcry for the withdrawal of military. But in the light of this discussion, the meeting generally agreed that it is premature to withdraw the military,â€ the minister said.
â€œWhat was needed was that if there are cases of individual misbehaviour by members of the JTF, the authorities will look into those cases,â€ he said, adding that one or two soldiers who acted â€œin excessâ€ were being questioned.
Authorities in the state last weekend urged sect members to accept a ceasefire and embrace dialogue with government.
The sect has in recent weeks stepped up bomb and drive-by shooting attacks in the state capital Maiduguri which have claimed scores of lives.
Thousands of residents have fled the city in recent days over violence and alleged rights violations by soldiers.
The sect has concentrated the attacks in Maiduguri where the military onslaught against the sect took place.