The new Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), resumed work at the ministry in Garki, Abuja, on Thursday, hours after the Boko Haram insurgents sacked many communities in the Gubio and Magumeri Local Government Areas of Borno State.
The minister, who is expected to meet with the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, and the service chiefs this week, was in the office on Thursday, but had yet to brief the public on his blueprint for tackling insecurity in the country.
Top of the insecurity issues which the minister would be discussing with the military chiefs are the Boko Haram insurgency, the banditry in the North-West geopolitical zone, killings by herdsmen and rampant kidnappings across the country.
Magashi, who was retired in 1999 after Nigeria’s return to democracy, was the military governor of old Sokoto State, which comprised the present Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states, between 1990 and 1992.
He was also the Kano State governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party in 2007.
Meanwhile, the Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday attacked several villages in the Gubio and Magumeri LGAs, gaining entry into the areas around 6pm.
One of our correspondents learnt that the insurgents burnt down several buildings belonging to the local governments, forcing many of the residents to flee to neighbouring communities.
A source said the insurgents came in large numbers and with sophisticated weapons and overpowered the troops located in the communities in Gubio.
He said, “Only the members of the Civilian Joint Task Force were on the ground and they were even forced to flee into the bushes because of the firepower of the insurgents. Most of the residents have also been displaced because of the attacks.”
Another source noted that the insurgents first attacked Gubio and proceeded to Magumeri where they partook in the evening prayers before attacking the residents.
The Theatre Command of the Nigerian Army confirmed the attack, saying one member of the Civilian Task Force was killed.
The army said that some civilians in the areas also sustained varying degrees of injury, as the insurgents damaged “buildings and property along their route of withdrawal” due to the gun battle with the troops.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, and 7 Division’s spokesperson, Col. Ado Isa, stated this in a press release, adding that peace had been restored in the communities.
He said, “The Theatre Command wishes to state that the attack was targeted at Nigerian Army troops deployed in the areas to enable the terrorists to gain access to shops and loot food items and other logistics. The attack was, however, repelled by the troops.
“Consequently, due to fierce exchange of fire, the terrorists were forced to withdraw in disarray from the town resulting to damage on buildings and property along their route of withdrawal.
“There were no casualties on the side of the troops. However, a vigilante sadly lost his life in a crossfire. Also, some civilians in the area reportedly sustained varying degrees of injury. Peace has so far been restored in the communities with residents going about their lawful business.”