The Boko Haram insurgents are establishing a new base in Bauchi state, a senator revealed yesterday.
Senator Isa Hamma Misau (APC, Bauchi Central) said the insurgents were relocating to the area from their stronghold in Sambisa Forest.
Hamma Misau, a retired Police officer, told Daily Trust in an exclusive phone interview that the insurgents had started establishing themselves in Burra Forest in Ningi Emirate Council of his constituency.
He said the Burra forest is linked through a corridor to the Falgore Forrest in Kano state and Saminaka in Kaduna State.
“The Boko Haram insurgents are relocating to the Burra Forest. It is a very large forest extending to three states and it is from there that the terrorists are going to other places to unleash terror on people.
“It was because of their activities that a new Police division was opened in Burra but the police cannot carry out operation in the forest because it is a high risk operation.
“They kidnap people daily, and receive between N3million and N5million as ransom,” he said.
The senator said the terrorists told their victims that they relocated from the Sambisa Forest, the hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno state.
“They also said the terrorists are in hundreds and that they coordinate their operations from the forest,” he said.
“They have collected so much money from the people but because the place is in remote area, it has not been given national prominence.
“The people are highly sophisticated, and to tackle them, we need serious surveillance, intelligence and equipment.”
He said when the Senate reconvenes next month he would sponsor a motion with a view to attracting the attention of the security agencies to it.
“I’m going to write to the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Army Staff and the Director of DSS for them to intervene. There is need for combined efforts of all security agencies in order to tackle the terrorists,” he said.
We’ll flush them out wherever they relocate – DHQ
The Defence Headquarters yesterday confirmed that Boko Haram militants who had been dislodged from Borno state were relocating to new basis in forests and hide outs in the country.
The defence spokesman, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar stated this yesterday, when contacted over reports of activities of Boko Haram in some areas and forests in Bauchi State.
He said: “It is not out of place if the terrorists are relocating because of ongoing operations by the military and equally because of operations of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).”
Abubakar noted that the MNJTF on operation Gama Aiki recently pounded the positions of Boko Haram, using aerial precision equipments, adding that:” it won’t be out of place as a result of that, they are moving and relocating to other places.”
He said: “However, wherever they go, the military, with other security agencies will intercept them. The next phase of the operations will take care of them.”
General Abubakar further said: “The inhabitants of that general area should be on the lookout of new persons and cooperate with security agencies. They are fleeing not only to Bauchi but other place.”
Kidnappings not in Burra alone – Bauchi Gov
Speaking on alleged infiltration of Boko Haram elements into parts of Bauchi State, including Burra forest, the special adviser to Governor Mohammed Abubakar, retired General Yusuf Ladan, said the security challenges they had were not posed by the Boko Haram insurgents but by bandits.
“When cases of kidnappings and rustling became a common phenomenon, Governor Abubakar sought the intervention of the military and operation is ongoing along Burra Forest.”
He said it was the local population that sometimes mistook military operatives as Boko Haram insurgents.
“The operation is being carried out without prior notice and the local population sometimes got scared when they see military operatives whom they normally suspect to be insurgents.
“Both ground and aerial reconnaissance is on-going, not only in Burra area but around Toro Local Government Area where the District Head of Tama was abducted. Initially, cooperation from the people there was disappointing but we summoned the community leaders for a meeting in Bauchi and the governor read the riot act for them. They are now cooperating.
“On Thursday, two notorious bandits, including Mai Rakumi and Dogo Mai AK47, in addition to nine culprits were arrested.
He said it was only in Balmo Forest, near Darazo in Ganjuwa Local Government, which shares border with Jigawa State that some elements of Boko Haram were tracked down recently.
“The issue of kidnapping and cattle rustling is not restricted to Burra forest only; it’s common in northern parts of Nigeria and some of those disturbing us actually relocated from Zamfara (state) axis where military operation was launched lately.
“Senator Hamma Misau should have contacted us to get the true situation of things. Yes, he has his points but we are here on ground and everyday interfacing with relevant security agencies on how to address the menace.
“We had cases of kidnappings and rustling along the Dass-Tafawa Balewa but troops from the 33 Artillery Brigade have cleared the area. We also had issues along Dindima in Alkaleri Local Government Area which have been cleared through collaboration between security agencies and local vigilantes.
“Of course, as a result of persistent kidnappings, the same troops that are now in Zamfara had carried out clearance operation along Alkaleri-Kirfi axis here in Bauchi State.”
Our correspondent recalled that in July 2014, there was massive operation by Nigerian troops at the Balmo forest resulting in the killing of scores of Boko Haram insurgents.
Initially, the Bauchi State government at the time denied the presence of Boko Haram, but following the clampdown, one Mohammed Zakari, 30, a senior member of the Boko Haram terrorists’ was arrested.
The suspect, who hails from Kaigamari Village, Daptchari in Darazo Local Government Area, Bauchi State was the “chief butcher” of the insurgent group at the Balmo forest camp and was linked with the slaughter of seven (7) people, including women and children.