FOLLOWING the pushing out of insurgents from Bama, which is 68 kilometres from Maiduguri,the Borno State capital, after fierce fighting in the last few days, the Nigerian military has rolled out tanks to defend the capital city from attacks.
This came as the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) also dispelled the reports that the Boko Haram insurgents had taken over the control of Bama town.
The military, in a bid to stem the uprising of the Boko Haram insurgents, on Monday night, rolled out armoured tanks to defend Maiduguri from attacks.
Residents whose houses were close to the main road, particularly around 202 and 303 housing estates in Maiduguri, as well as those living in Bullumkuttu and along Tashan Kano area, confirmed that tanks were rolled out by the military on Monday night, to man all possible entrances to Maiduguri.
According to the residents, it was difficult for them to sleep, because of the war-like situation, as the military moved out armoured tanks to guard the city.
Trenches were also observed dug around the city, with the imposition of curfew, all in a bid to check possible sneaking into town with arms by the Boko Haram insurgents.
It was gathered that some members of the sect had found their way into Maiduguri, waiting for the appropriate time when the larger group would advance on the city.
Nigerian Tribune learnt the development compounded the fears of residents, now preparing for exodus from the city.
Nigerian Tribune observed that politicians and the rich had mostly moved their families out of the city since last week, following the threat to attack Maiduguri and the declaration of caliphate in Gwoza town by the leader of the terrorist group, Abubakar Shekau.
It was gathered that most of the frontline politicians had been living partly in Abuja, since the renewed offensive by the Boko Haram fighters.
According to a soldier, “you kill and kill, but these people are coming like flies. We have to withdraw and allow the Air Force to do their job.”
Attempts to get the security authorities in Maiduguri to speak on the situation failed, as phones of both the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Gideon Jibrin and the army spokesman could not go through at press time.
Bama not taken –Borno govt, civilian JTF
The Borno deputy governor, Mustapha, while briefing newsmen on the state of insecurity in Bama and various parts of the state, at the Government House, Maiduguri, on Tuesday, noted that with the attempted attack on Bama town and military barrack, over 2,000 internally displaced persons from the affected town and other villages fled to Maiduguri and had been resettled at National Youths Service (NYSC) orientation camp and Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Maiduguri.
“The attack on Bama town on Monday was very unfortunate, but I want reassure our people that government is on top of the situation.
“Already, those in the camp are being taken care of and our security forces are engaging the insurgents in a fierce battle which is worthy of commendation,” Mustapha said.
Corroborating the view of the deputy governor, the civilian JTF said it was the Boko Haram insurgents that suffered massive casualty in the attack, losing 135 persons and 35 others arrested and in custody.
At a press briefing in Maiduguri, spokesman of the civilian JTF, Jibrin Gunda, said “we categorically refute the statement of Senator Ahmed Zanna that Boko Haram has captured Bama.”
Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, it was gathered that Boko Haram militants had fled Bama town, following a fierce fight against them by the Nigerian military.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the military authorities called in the fighter jets of the Nigeria Air Force, to carry out sustained air strikes on the insurgents.
It was also gathered that the military had planned to relocate all the civilians and even military personnel from the battle line.
The insurgents, as of the time of going to press, were said to be massing on the outskirts of Bama, in another bid to carry out another assault on the town.