Following Monday’s renewed attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on some parts of Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima abruptly returned to Nigeria on Wednesday, cutting short his official trip to Sudan and the United Kingdom.
The governor had scheduled assessment meetings with school authorities and over 70 students being sponsored by the State Government in both countries to study medicine and Petroleum Geo-Sciences.
The insurgents attacked several areas with the most recent being the seizure of Bama town, Borno’s second biggest town located only about 70 kilometers away from Maiduguri, the capital.
Thousands of residents have thronged into Maiduguri from Bama following the attacks. Some of them told SaharaReporters today by telephone that the insurgents are firmly in control of Bama, and have about 1500 fighters in the town. As many as 500 people, they said, have been killed since Monday alone.
There is some confusion as to the status of the army base in Bama, but but the governclaimed security sources said told him on Wednesday that the military have used air strikes to destroy the hardware brought in by the insurgents from Gwoza. They also destroyed military hardware at the base in order to deny the invaders access to them. The insurgents were said to have targeted the arms at the base as they work to combine resources towards launching a massive attack on Maiduguri.
Upon his return, Shettima held crucial meetings in Abuja in connection with the latest developments in his State. Sources say he has approved the formation and release of funds to a committee set up to coordinate distribution of relief materials and the management of victims. The Governor was scheduled to leave for Maiduguri later on Wednesday despite heightened fears about planned attacks on Maiduguri by the insurgents who had never hidden their desperation to hit the capital in retaliation for their forceful eviction by soldiers and citizen-volunteers in 2013. Maiduguri is currently under a curfew imposed by the military in response to the planned attack.
Governor Shettima, according to Isa Gusau, his media associate, returned to the country mainly to provide needed leadership, be with his people and build public confidence. He also wants to coordinate relief for victims, as well as step up co-funding and psychological support for the military.
The Governor had left Nigeria on Sunday night and was scheduled to meet officials of a University in Sudan where 50 female citizens of the State are currently undergo State-sponsored training to become medical doctors. They are part of Borno’s Female Medical Education/Intervention Programme designed to train 300 female doctors abroad in five years.
Among others, Shettima was also scheduled to travel to the UK to meet 20 students undergoing Petroleum Geo-Sciences training in addition to signing agreements for other human capacity development programs.