More than 2,000 Nigerians living in border villages in Borno State have reportedly fled as a result of the ongoing military operations targeted at routing insurgents from the area under the emergency rule.
The fleeing villagers were said to have headed to the neighbouring Niger Republic.
“Most of the residents of border villages of Borno have fled to Niger. About 2,000 people from Abadan, Malam Fatori and other villages are now refugees in Difa, Niger Republic,” a top security officer told one of our correspondents on Sunday.
The source said that the Joint Military Task Force was on the trail of members of the Boko Haram sect, who were dislodged from the Sambisa Game Reserve and other camps on Thursday in Borno State.
It was learnt that residents of Maiduguri and other communities far from the border, who did not want to be caught in the cross-fire had also fled to some neighbouring states, including Kano and Bauchi.
The Director of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters, Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, could not confirm whether the Nigerian villagers had fled to Niger Republic.
“I will have to find out,” he said.
As the time of sending this report, he had yet to comment on the development.
Also, Nigerian Immigration Public Relations Officer, Ekpedeme King, promised to find out if any Nigerian villagers fled to Niger Republic.
However, he did not respond to subsequent calls and a text message sent to his phone.
Olukolade, in a statement on Sunday, said, “A total of 20 terrorists were apprehended as they fled. Altogether, three soldiers died, while seven are wounded and are being treated in military medical facility, one soldier is missing.”
According to Olukolade, patrols are also ongoing to secure towns and villages from infiltration by the terrorists.
He added that the curfews imposed on identified flashpoints were being enforced.
The military spokesman said that dislodged terrorists had been in disarray with a large number of them heading for various borders.
He said, “Their bases are being deserted but they are making efforts to evacuate most of the large stock of logistics, including scores of vehicles in their holdings.
“In the course of special forces and operations, a number of encounters have ensued since yesterday (Saturday).”
On Sunday, Olukolade said, “The required reinforcement and logistics have been delivered to forces in fronts where they have been engaging a large number of heavily armed terrorists since yesterday.
“Defence Headquarters is quite satisfied with the high standard of compliance with operational order and strict observance of the rules of engagement so far.
“The forces have been directed to maintain the robustness of the patrols and enforcement of curfews where emplaced and ensure that civilians are kept out of harms as much as possible.”
A 24-hour curfew had on Saturday been imposed in parts of the city of Maiduguri.
In Adamawa State, the curfew imposed in parts of the state has been biting harder on residents, especially those living in the capital city, Yola, and the border towns of Mubi and Maiha.
A resident of Jimeta-Yola, Ms. Rifkatu Iliya, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, said, “The curfew is still on and we are learning to live with it, those of us who go to work leave earlier than usual so that we are not caught up.
“For those who are trading, it is more
difficult because their trading hours have been reduced to between three to five hours a day.
“I will be lying if I say we are not living in fear, we have heard of the atrocities of Boko Haram in some parts of the state and we have seen an increase in the number of security forces.”
But a security source in Yola, who asked not to be named because she was not authorised to speak to the media on the issue, said the military crackdown, had been concentrated in Borno.
The source said, “The military operations are targeted largely at terrorist training camps and strongholds in Borno.
“However, we in Adamawa are also on the alert because we are aware that the insurgents who are under intense pressure in Borno may want to seek a safe haven here.
“We are under instructions not to allow this to happen.
“The pains of the checkpoints and the curfew are temporary; residents will have to bear with us.