Maiduguri residents told to stay and fight, as army lifts curfew


Nigerian soldiers

Nigerian  soldiers
Nigerian soldiers

A curfew imposed in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri after a weekend Boko Haram attack was lifted on Monday, as the state governor urged residents to stay and fight.

The restive city has been on lock-down since Sunday morning, when the Islamist militants launched a dawn raid that was later repelled by the military.

Nigerian Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said: “The curfew imposed on Maiduguri has been lifted as from 6:00 am (0500 GMT). People can go about their legitimate business.”

The military high command in Abuja has said “scores” of Boko Haram fighters were killed as soldiers using heavy weaponry with air support halted the rebel advance.

The attack came a day after President Goodluck Jonathan visited the city as part of his re-election campaign and again vowed to end the six-year insurgency.

Fears have been growing for months about a large-scale attack, as the militants captured swathes of territory in Borno State, of which Maiduguri is the capital.

State governor Kashim Shettima told BBC radio’s Hausa-language service on Monday that the curfew was imposed “to enable security personnel to carry out their operations”.

Related News

But with the city gripped by the possibility that the rebels will try to attack again — and news that Boko Haram had captured the nearby town of Monguno — he called for calm.

“I call on the people of Borno State not to panic,” he said. “This is our land. No fear, no flight, no retreat. We should not flee.

“We have a history dating back 1,000 years and I swear by Allah we are going to subdue them (Boko Haram).”

Two security sources told AFP on Sunday that Monguno, which is about 125 kilometres (80 miles) north of Maiduguri, had fallen into rebel hands.

Boko Haram overran the town and captured a military barracks, from which it is feared that it will launch a fresh strike on Maiduguri, where the group was founded in 2002.

Shettima added: “It is bad in Monguno. I’ll not lie to you. People are trooping to Maiduguri. They are being held by the military outside the city.

“There is need for screening before they are allowed in” to determine whether any of the people are militants, he added.