Several senior citizens in Borno State have urged on the Federal Government to withdraw the military task force from the city of Maiduguri following their indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians in the area. Retired Brigadier Abba Kyari and Ambassador Gaji Galtimari today joined the clamour for President Goodluck’s government to withdraw the soldiers of the JTF.
The elders also appealed to Boko Haram sect militants to embrace dialogue to end the bloody crisis which threatens to put Nigeria on the way to civil conflict.
The calls on both sides come as residents of Maiduguri began a mass exodus on Monday following the army raids.
SaharaReporters on their way out of town told SaharaReporters the repression by the army and police was more troubling than the activities of the sects. The city of Maiduguri has been on virtual lockdown since Boko Haram sect militants embarked on a murderous campaign to assassinate politicians, traditional authority figures and Islamic scholars in a city opposed to their doctrine.
Last weekend, the army and police combined operation known as the Joint Task Force cracked down on young people in the city after the Boko Haram sect tossed a bomb at an army checkpoint killing seven soldiers and policemen.
A spokesperson for the army later claimed that some 30 members of the deadly Islamist movement were killed after the attack. However, residents claimed that the task force, which is running “Operation Flash,” merely rounded up bearded young males and slaughtered them. Several teenagers were reportedly killed by the rampaging army in that way, especially in the Kaleri and Gwazari wards of the city. The Nigerian police and army are notorious for extra-judicial murderous operations, as has been reported by local and international human rights organizations for many years. Eyewitnesses in Maiduguri said last week’s extra-judicial killings were done in Sunday and Monday operations.
The calls to withdraw the soldiers come on the heels of yesterday’s closure of a major Nigerian university based in the city. The 36-year old Maiduguri University was closed down indefinitely due to threats of violence by Boko Haram.
SaharaReporters has also learned that the State Security Services has quizzed a former governor of the state, Modu Ali Sheriff, to find out if he has contributed to the insurgency in any form.
Boko Haram’s campaign of terror this week has shown a clear westwards spread in the North, reaching Bauchi and, only yesterday, Kaduna. The campaign has become so menacing that three scared governors on their alleged hit list have publicly apologized to the sect in paid advertisements.