Troops in Maiduguri, Borno State, ‘mistakenly’ opened fire on the convoy of Governor Kashim Shettima as it approached a military garrison near the airport.
Shettima was on his way to visit soldiers, who were wounded in the simultenous Boko Haram attacks on Maiduguri, Monguno and Kodunga when the incident occurred on Monday.
Security sources, according to SaharaReporters, said the governor’s protocol unit was to blame for the incident as it failed to notify the military authorities about Shettima’s intention to visit the military facility on Monday evening.
An aide to the governor was quoted by the online news portal as having said that the governor, who was unharmed in the encounter, returned to his office unruffled.
The report however did not say if anyone in the convoy was hurt. It also was silent on whether or not Shettima’s security aides returned fired.
A Government House source however claimed that the governor’s convoy heard sporadic gunshots about one kilometre from the 33 Battalion and therefore made a U-turn.
He added that Shettima stopped his convoy at the 707 Housing Estate to calm tensions and debunk the rumours that the gunshots were by Boko Haram insurgents that were attacking people at Njimtilo.
Our correspondents could not get the spokesman for the 7th Div., Col S.K. Usman, to comment on the issue as calls to his mobile did not connect.
Attempts to also get the reaction of the Director of Press and Communication to the governor, Mallam Isa Gusau, were unsuccessful as of the time of filing this report.
Calls to his mobile indicated that it was either switched off or out of coverage area.
But the state Commissioner for Infromation, Mohammed Bulama, said what happened was a “friendly gunshot.”
“It was not an attack on the governor. It was a friendly gunshot that was not directed at Gov. Shettima nor his convoy. The shots were fired into the air by soldiers who were hailing the governor for saluting their effort in repelling the insurgents.”
Fleeing residents of Monguno on Tuesday told The PUNCH in Maiduguri, that corpses of people were decomposing on the streets of the captured town.
One of them, Babagana Modu, who arrived in Maiduguri on Monday evening, said, “The pathetic thing is that our dead family members are allowed to decompose on the streets without burial.
“The fools (insurgents) are treating us worse than an animal. Definitely, these people do not know any God.”
A woman, Yagana Mohammed, who lost her husband and two children to the attack, said she would have preferred to die too.
She said, “I would have liked to be killed with my dead husband rather than living with the memory of the day he was slaughtered. The matter is made worse by the fact that there would be no grave for me to show to my other surviving children.
“How will I explain to them when they grow up that their father and brothers were slaughtered and left to rot on the streets.”
The military is however still engaging the insurgents in a battle to reclaim the town.
It was gathered that more troops were deployed in the town with an instruction to chase the terrorists out .
“As I am speaking to you our men are still engaging the insurgents and hopefully they will push them back soon and allow the people of the town to return home,” a military source told The PUNCH.
Meanwhile, a suspected Boko Haram bomb maker has been arrested by security operatives in Potiskum, Yobe State.The man, identified simply as Ba’na, is suspected to be behind the fabrication of explosives used in a series of Boko Haram suicide attacks.
According to an Agence France Presse report on Tuesday, the suspect was arrested with nine accomplices.
“He confessed to being responsible for the manufacture of the explosives used in at least three suicide attacks and the car explosion outside the divisional police station,” a police officer told the AFP.
Ba’na was said to have moved to Potiskum from Damaturu three years ago and worked as a stonemason and water vendor before getting married.
“He was quite good at his disguise and his mason and water vending jobs gave him perfect cover,” the officer said.
But the spokesman for the Nigerian Police Force, Emmanuel Ojukwu, told the news agency that he did not have any information on the arrest.
Potiskum, the commercial capital of Yobe State, has been hit by a wave of bombings in recent months, including a suicide attack on a secondary school in November in which 58 people were killed.
S’ Africa flays its ex-soldiers’ involvement in terror war
Earlier on Tuesday, South Africa flayed the alleged involvement of its ex-soldiers in fight against Boko Haram.
“We always discourage South Africans from entering the fray in a situation like that,” the South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told journalists in Addis Ababa, ahead of the African Union summit.
“We’ve also read with dismay in the newspapers that there was such (in Nigeria),” the City Express quoted her as adding.
Another newspaper, Beeld newspaper, reported that a team of about 100 South African soldiers were in Nigeria – at the Federal Government’s request – to help train soldiers to hit back at Boko Haram.
The paper claimed that a member of the team said that their first task was to stop the terrorists’ bloody raids.
Nkoana-Mashabane did not want to talk about government or regional plans to intervene in the situation in Nigeria, but said these would be discussed during a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on Thursday.
The meeting is due to get feedback on the plans of the Economic Community of West African States and how the AU is set to support these.
Nkoana-Mashabane expressed concern that Boko Haram’s “tentacles” were also spreading to Nigeria’s neighbours .
But the Director Defence Information, Maj.Gen.Chris Olukolade, said that the country’s partners in the campaign against terrorism were known.
He said that the input of the partners was in the area of exchange of ideas.
Olukolade said that only Nigerian troops were deployed in the operation in all the fronts.
He said, “We have partners across the world, and they are known. Their input is in the area of exchange of ideas. Deployment all over Nigeria involves only Nigerian troops.”
A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was absurd for the South African minister to go to the media to complain about the purported presence of South African ex-servicemen in the country.
He said, “The minister’s complaint in the media only showed the magnitude of conspiracy against the country within the African continent.
“Some of them cannot wait to see this country come down on its knees. God forbid it.
“Why should the South African minister be complaining if the plot is not to bring down the country. This is another indication of the conspiracy against the Nigerian state.
“It shows the wish of the South Africans for Nigeria. It also shows the extent of the conspiracy against Nigeria among African nations.”