There are concerns among residents and political leaders in Borno State following the influx of displaced Boko Haram insurgents and members of the Islamic States of West Africa (ISWAP) into the state after they were attacked in Chad and chased away by Chadian troops, reports Thisday.
Following the onslaught by the Chadian forces, the terrorists have returned to their former strongholds in the Sambisa Forest and Alargano in Borno State.
Some of the residents confirmed to Thisday that the insurgents who were displaced by Chadian soldiers, led by their President, Mr. Idris Deby, from islands in the Lake Chad have taken positions in parts of northern Borno from where they were earlier pushed back by the Nigerian soldiers.
It was gathered that after the insurgents had reportedly killed 92 Chadian soldiers, Deby led his troops in a counter-attack that took the war to the enclave of Boko Haram and inflicted maximum damage on its fighters, forcing them to scatter, with many of them relocating to northern Borno.
Boko Haram leader, Mr. Abubakar Shekau, however, appealed to his fighters not to be deterred by the onslaught against them by the Chadian troops.
A senior member of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Borno State, who spoke with Thisday on condition of anonymity, said the insurgents were seen in northern Borno with many of them moving further down into both Sambisa Forest and Alargano.
He said: “After the Boko Haram insurgents fled from the onslaught against them by the Chadian soldiers, they came back into Borno in large numbers.
“Many of those that fled into Nigeria were without their weapons and were disoriented. Some took position in northern Borno.
“Many others moved further down into Sambisa Forest and Alargano, their former strongholds.”
Confirming the development, a member of the House of Representatives representing Monguno/Marte/Nganzai Federal Constituency, one of the constituencies in northern Borno, Hon. Mohammed Monguno, told THISDAY that the insurgents were back in large numbers after the blow from the Chadian forces.
He said: “Yes, they are in northern Borno and some have proceeded to Sambisa.
“The Nigerian military should launch an all-out offensive to finish them now that they are in disarray as a result of the mortal blow inflicted on them by Chad.”
Attempts to speak with the Nigerian Army on the return of the insurgents and efforts to deal with them did not yield any result as the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, did not pick his call nor reply to an inquiry sent to his mobile line.
But it looks like the military may be prepared for a massive offensive against the terrorist group as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, is said to have relocated to Borno State.
Musa, in a statement at the weekend, said Buratai relocated to the state to oversee and direct the overall operation in the theatre and other Nigerian Army operations across the country.
The statement added: “While addressing troops of Special Super Camp Ngamdu in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno State on April 9, 2020, Lt-Gen. Buratai said he will be with the troops at the nooks and crannies of the theatre.
“It will be recalled that we earlier reported that the COAS had been on operational tour to troops’ locations in the North-east Theatre of Operation since Saturday, April 4, 2020.
“During the tour, he was at the Army Super Camp 1 at Mulai and the Special Forces Super Camp 12 at Chabbol near Maiduguri on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 where he interacted with the officers and addressed the troops respectively.
“COAS was also at the Forward Operations Base at Alau Dam, and also personally led the troops on patrol round Mairimari and Maigilari Forests.”