Suspected Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists at the weekend destroyed over four high tension lines supplying electricity to Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
This is as residents flee Birshin Fulani a suburb which hosts the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, along Dass- Tafawa Balewa Road, Bauchi State due to the incessant attacks by criminals who have laid siege to their houses, kidnapping them at random and demanding huge ransoms.
LEADERSHIP findings revealed that the entire city of Maiduguri has been thrown into darkness for the past eight months following the bombing of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) transmission towers on 26th of January this year along Maiduguri- Damaturu highway by Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.
Ever since then residents and businesses surviving on electricity have been groaning under hardship placed on the economy that was already battered by the terrorists activities.
The present destroyed electric high-tension lines are within the vicinity of Auno, along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road.
A credible source said, “More than four high tension towers that supplied electricity from Damaturu to Maiduguri were blown off again by the suspected members of ISWAP fighters last night. The incident happened in Garin kuturu village which is about 2kms away from Auno.
According to the report, the act started precisely around 7pm and lasted up to 10pm Friday evening.
The source added, “Eyewitness said four towers are already on ground while the fifth one is about to fall down. As it were right now, restoration of electricity to Maiduguri the Borno State capital is not yet in sight unless the state government can adopt a more pragmatic strategy to see to the end of incessant destruction of high tension that supplies electricity to the state.”
Neither the TCN nor Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC), the DISCO responsible for supply of electricity to Borno and other parts of Northeast has made a statement over the latest development.
Meanwhile, Birshin Fulani, a suburb of Bauchi metropolis, is now a shadow of itself and almost desolate as residents abandon their houses and flee the community.
It lies opposite the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, along Dass- Tafawa Balewa Road. Recently, residents of the community are living at the mercy of gunmen, who besieged the community more than four times in less than two weeks.
The gunmen beset the community, especially at wee hours of the night with sporadic shootings, targeted at scaring residents which enables them to operate at will. The gunmen had recently killed a staff of the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, Muhammad Adamu, who was on a rescue mission when they struck the community in their desperate move to kidnap his neighbour. Few metres away from late Adamu’s house, they stormed the residence of Alhaji Danjuma, an imam and killed him, while they abducted two of his neighbours, the same night.
The two abductees were released after “heavy ransom was paid to the gunmen”, according to Usman Alhaji, a resident of the community.
What worries Usman is that “Both the community members and security agents know the hideout of these criminals, why is it difficult for the security agents to fish them out in the forest and bring them to book”, he queried.
Recalling the ordeal he went through when the gunmen besieged his house, Usman said; “My brothers and I were asked to lie down flat, a little resistance could cost you your life, the gunmen are merciless. It was a terrible experience for me, I have never witnessed such a horrifying experience in my life.”
The first incident took place on September 4th, from then to September 17th, the gunmen attacked the community four times.
In all the attacks, Auwal Abdullahi said, “the police are nowhere to be found. Note that there is a police checkpoint at the gate of the polytechnic, just 1km away from here, but the police don’t come to our aid even if we place calls to inform them that the gunmen are here.”
Auwal said the authorities in the state have failed to protect the community from the kidnappers.
“There is prior information that these kidnappers will strike our village again because they said it, the police are aware, everyone is aware, but there are no measures on the ground to curtail it from happening”, he added.
True to Auwal’s words, the kidnappers struck the community again. It was another night of horror for the residents of Birshin Fulani on Thursday night, September 16th. The kidnappers, numbering 10 according to eyewitnesses stormed the suburb around midnight, despite the rains.
Nafisat Abdullahi, a resident of the community who narrated how her neighbour, Kafayat, a 34-year-old mother, was abducted by the gunmen told LEADERSHIP that it was the shock of her life.
“At about 1:29 am, Kafayat’s husband called my phone line and said his wife is being attacked in her house, so we should go and help the wife. I now woke my husband, to tell him that our neighbour (Mommy Abdussalam) is in danger, kidnappers just entered her house.”
Another resident, Buhari Umar said “the kidnappers stormed the house, abducted the woman and left her three children including a two-year-old kid. The incident is quite unfortunate, and serious actions need to be taken.”
Checks by LEADERSHIP revealed that since the killing of the polytechnic staff who was a resident of the community, many wealthy individuals including some staff of the polytechnic have deserted the community in fear of being trapped by the predators. Ayuba Alhasan, a resident told LEADERSHIP that, “the rich have deserted us, they have abandoned their houses and relocated elsewhere in apprehension.
“Only the commoners who are without a silver spoon are left behind, but I can tell you that many more people are likely to leave the community if the problem persists”, Ayuba said.
LEADERSHIP findings revealed that two staff of the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi have already deserted the community and many others are also preparing to leave.
A staff member of the polytechnic who does not want his name in print told our correspondent on the phone that; “We have to boycott the community because we are usually the target. Most of the kidnappers believe that if you work in the polytechnic, you are already a rich man, you have assets you call sell and give them the ransom they are demanding.”
Another resident whose neighbour had already fled the community said; “I would have left too when my neighbour deserted his house, but the size of my family is too big, where will I take them to”, he rhetorically asked.
He said if he was financially buoyant to afford relocation, he wouldn’t have contemplated for a second about relocating, “because that is the only solution.”
Surajuddeen Abiodun, husband of Kafayat Abiodun the latest kidnap victim said Kafayat’s abductors demanded N50 million from him in ransom before his wife would be released. Abiodun who was looking visibly disturbed said he had put all his belongs on sale to be able to raise the ransom demanded by the kidnappers.
His major concern was that all his belongings when put to sell cannot raise the money demanded by the kidnappers.
“And I have a 24-hour ultimatum to give them the money or they kill my wife as they said”, he told LEADERSHIP
The weaker members of the community whose financial muscles cannot afford relocation options have resorted to “plan B as an alternative”, says Ayuba Alhassan, a member of the community.
Ayuba’s description of plan B means “one has to leave the house at night and sleep in the farm or inside the bush; this is the only alternative, because if the gunmen strike the community, no one can stop them because they have superior firepower to confront anyone”, he said.
Residents sleeping in the bush at night “are not safe also, because reptiles and other dangerous animals also roam at night, and anything can happen”, Ayuba lamented.
Surajuddeen also told LEADERSHIP that his neighbours where the recent kidnap incident took place have resorted to boycotting their houses at night.
Investigation revealed that the activities of the gunmen storming the Bauchi community may not be unconnected with information they receive from “informants.”
Mallam Abdul’aziz, a local vigilante in the area said “these gunmen have informants who are directing them on who to target and which house to go; I can’t believe that strangers will just storm this community and start kidnapping at random, somebody who is familiar with the community is giving them information.”
The residents also say the government had neglected them. In a statement he signed, Abdulhamid Jibrin Birshi said the persistent killings and kidnappings in the area are quite worrisome.
“We note with dismay the inability of people in positions of power to do the needful. For instance, from the lowest to the highest political office holders in the land who usually storm our community in search of votes during the campaigns only the Deputy Speaker paid a condolence visit.
“None of our elected officer holders finds it worthy to either sympathize with us or help take concrete measures that will guarantee our safety and security from the killer gunmen who find pleasure in destroying our hard-earned peace” the statement read in part.
The statement further said: “From the member of the State House of Assembly, Danlami Kawule to the House of Reps, Yakubu Shehu Abdullahi, to the Senate member Lawal Yaya Gumau and down to the governor of Bauchi State, we did not see any concrete support from you people to help us move out of the current security limbo we are in as a community.
“The inability of these political officeholders to pay either personal or official visits in sympathy and solidarity to the people of this a community that is now leaving at the mercy of killer gunmen has reminded us that we are only relevant when our votes are needed”, the press statement noted.
Efforts to reach the governor’s adviser on security General Marcus Yake proves abortive as calls and text messages put to him on the matter have not been responded to as of press time.
But the police said they was on top of their game. The Divisional Police Officer, Yelwa Division, Philip Emmanuel told our correspondent that the division had received distress calls from members of the community when the gunmen entered the community.