Zulum Cuts Short Trip To Borno Border Town Amid Insurgent Attack
Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum on Thursday abruptly cut short his visit to Malam-Fatori, a border town in Borno following an attack, Channels Television has learnt.
Malam-Fatori is the headquarters of Abadam local government, a known stronghold of the outlawed ISWAP group and the only Borno territory still under the control of the outlaws.
The Governor had spent two days in Diffa and Bosso provinces of neighboring Niger Republic, from where he led some Nigerian refugees, on Thursday, to undertake clearance exercise in Malam-Fatori.
Malam-Fatori, located on the fringes of Lake Chad, was violently occupied by Boko Haram for about six years before the military took control. Residents have been taking refuge in Diffa and Bosso, which is about five kilometers away.
Attempts by the military to restrict the governor and his team from taking a tour of the town – because military operations were still ongoing – proved abortive as the governor insisted on carrying out his mission of inspecting hospitals and other municipal buildings.
Security sources say the governor and his team, consisting of the state resettlement committee narrowly missed being hit in an ambush as sporadic gunshots greeted them during the inspection.
The military, according to sources, had ordered all the civilians, including the governor to lay flat as the soldiers engaged the assailants.
They were later to receive air support, as the military began shelling the general area where the gunshots were heard.
The military thereafter evacuated everyone to the military base where a furious Zulum engaged the Commanding Officer Brigadier General Mutkut in a heated argument insisting that the attack was staged, accusing the army for being responsible.
Zulum is convinced that the military is sabotaging the planned return of refugees but maintains that he would not be deterred.
The visit ended abruptly as an Airforce helicopter evacuated the Governor and a few members of his entourage to Maiduguri.
It was gathered that the resettlement committee had also faced similar attacks on the two occasions they had visited Malam-Fatori to access and commence rehabilitations.
Thursday’s attack on the Governor is a setback on the plans to evacuate refugees back to Malam-Fatori by November 27.
Zulum had travelled to Niger on Tuesday evening and passed the night at Diffa.
He was received by the Governor of Diffa Province, Issa Lameen with the leaders discussing how to effectively collaborate on planned repatriation of refugees from Borno state.