It’s come to our attention by security operatives that Nigerian soldiers based in the Magumeri village of Borno state received early warning about a deadly Boko Haram attack in the community the previous Wednesday.
Quite a number of security workers died in the attack. The army had primarily stated on how one officer four soldiers were murdered, but according to the Borno government, the number was far higher. About two police officers were killed to say the least.
Indications of the State security service (SSS), the criminal investigation bureau of the Nigerian police, as well as the Civilian-JTF implied the military did not do enough to stop the attack.
At a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, disclosures were made, set up by the Borno State governor Kashim Shettima to investigate the claim by the army that occupants of Magumeri schemed with rebels to attack.
Spokesman of the army Sani Usman had stated the military obtained credible intelligence suggesting that the attack happened as a result of the residents cooperating with Boko Haram. This made the Borno state governor irked as it can be viewed as a conspiracy theory.
The governor was shocked halfway into the meeting when agents of other security personnel gave their proofs that refuted the claims made by the military, while he had also shown his fury with the leaders of Magumeri and accused them of hurting the civilian-military relations with their movements.
All security chiefs in the state as well as community leaders and local government were present in the council chambers of government house Maiduguri were the meeting took place.
Bello Haruna, head of the CIB in Magumeri had stated that the authority in Magumeri was well informed about the imminent attack before it actually happened when giving a background of what happened in the town.
He said on the day of the attack, the Commander of the troops in Magumeri, identified as Captain Waza, requested him for an update on the rumored assemblage of Boko Haram fighters around the town.
“The Commanding officer, a Captain, invited me to his office in the morning of Wednesday, hours before the attack, asking for the details of the location where Boko Haram fighters were said to be assembling, and I asked him to bring out the map from which I gave him all the necessary information about the terrorists’ locations. But I am not sure if anything was done in response to that before the attackers came,” he said.
Tim Modalla SSS representative was present at the meeting as well, he went further to say the security was aware of the imminent attack four days prior.
He stated that they (SSS) were aware the Boko Haram fighters were getting information from a site not far from Maiduguri and that all important information was relayed to the military.
He held he received intellect that Boko Haram members were assembling in some villages around Magumeri and that they had continued to move closer until they eventually stormed Magumeri with about 45 vehicles and motorcycles.
“On March 10, we received credible intelligence from our informants that Boko haram members were gathering in Bana village not far away; and after two days they shifted to Suleimanti village; then the following day which was 14th March, we gathered that their number swelled and they had about 45 vehicles,” Mr. Modalla said.
“We picked the report and transmitted same to the military telling them that it is possible that Boko Haram would bring attack to either Magumeri, Mobbar or Gubio towns.
“And as predicted on the 15th of March at about 5.30p.m., I was informed by a civilian-JTF that our town was about to be attacked. And I told him to quickly alert the Captain, and the Civilian-JTF Operative said he was at the military base four times to alert them of the attack.”
A leader of the Civilian-JTF in Magumeri also said he got hint in the morning of the day of the attack that a large number of Boko Haram fighters were advancing towards their village.
The leader stated “Initially the informant asked if we were out on patrol with soldiers, I said no. He said he saw a large number of trucks that looked exactly like that of soldiers but what made him suspicious of their identity was the presence of large number of motorcycles trailing their convoy. So he said we had to be careful because they were advancing towards Magumeri town,”
“When I received the information the Boko Haram fighters were about 30km away from Magumeri. So I had to run to the soldiers’ camp to inform the Captain who is the commander that this is what was about to take place. Some few minutes later, I ran back to the captain upon receiving the information that the attackers were about 20km away. When they were less than 10km I still went back to the Captain to alert him. On my fourth trip back from the camp, when I was about to mobilize my boys to move into the soldiers’ camp, the Boko Haram fighters invaded the town, and began to attack and shoot at the military base. We managed to run into the base thinking that it would be safe, but the Boko Haram fighters continued to shoot into the base. That was how all of us, including the soldiers took to our heels because of their large number. So I still don’t know why we are being accused of helping the Boko Haram after all this information we have provided to them.”
The state director of the SSS, had in responding to a question from the governor on what they usually do with intelligence gathered about the Boko Haram movements and locations, said,
According to the state director of the SSS “We do not sit on the information we get. Just as it was said earlier, we normally transmit same to the relevant executive security agency for action. We have copious and documented evidence to prove that to whoever is in doubt”.
Jubril Muhammed, the garrison commander and a brigadier general, who represented the G.O.C at the meeting, described the development as “unfortunate” even as he said he would not speak on why the Army spokesman issued the statement suggesting residents connived with Boko Haram, but confirmed receiving early intelligence from some community leaders informing him about the impending attacks, hours before it happened.
Governor Shettima expressed sadness over the development, especially on how the military was quick in accusing the locals of colluding with terrorists.