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HOW JOHNATHAN BOOST THE MORALE OF TROOPS IN BAGA, MUBI.


Mubi is the second largest city in Adamawa and was among those recaptured from Boko Haram by the military late last year.

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President Goodluck Jonathan (in green beret, centre), in a group photograph with the troops, during his visit yesterday to Mubi, Baga and Vintim recaptured

by the Nigerian military in North-eastern Nigeria

•  Security agencies trailing Boko Haram members  • Children of influential Nigerians being recruited into ISIS  • Several killed in bomb attacks in Biu, Jos

Jaiyeola Andrews, Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja, Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri, Daji Sani in Yola and Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

With the federal government gaining the upper hand against the terror group Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday made another unannounced visit to Baga, Mubi and Vintim in Borno and Adamawa States, respectively.

The president’s whistle stop trip to the North-east came one day after the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Kenneth Minimah, visited troops in Baga and about a month after he (Jonathan) visited troops in Maiduguri.

The president, who arrived Yola airport at about 11 am in the company of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh, other service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, proceeded by helicopter to Mubi where he met with troops of 155 Special Task Force battalion and residents of the town who had returned after its recapture by Nigerian troops.

The president then paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Mubi, Alhaji Abubakar Isa, to sympathise with him and the people of Mubi over the loss of their loved ones and property destroyed by the insurgents.

The president was also reported to have visited Vintim, the hometown of Badeh, which was recovered from the Islamist group about the same time as Mubi.

Speaking on the president’s visit, a resident of Mubi, Idris Buba, said there was heavy security in the town during Jonathan’s visit.

“When the president and his entourage left the emir’s palace, they headed to Vintim village, the hometown of the Chief of Defence Staff who was also in the president’s entourage,” Buba said.

According to him, the president also held a closed-door meeting with the service chiefs who had driven ahead of him to Vintim.

After the meeting, the president, THISDAY learnt, flew to the Maiduguri air force base, from where he proceeded to Baga, Borno State.

In Baga, the president also met with the troops to boost their morale and thanked them for their courage and gallantry in the prosecution of the war against terror.

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A source said he told the troops that their efforts would not be in vain and their victories in recent weeks had made Nigerians proud.

He was reported to have told them that the federal government would not relent in ensuring that their welfare is taken care of and promised to keep giving them all the necessary support in their push to rout the insurgents.

Prior to the town’s recapture by Nigerian troops last week, Baga was attacked for three successive days by the terrorists early last month, leading to its occupation and death of hundreds of residents.

Satellite imagery released by Amnesty International (AI) last month showed the level of destruction in Baga after the onslaught by the Islamist group.

In a statement by the president’s spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, the presidency confirmed Jonathan’s trip to Baga and Mubi where he commended the troops for proving their mettle once again through the rapid recapture of territories formerly held by insurgents.

Jonathan, Abati said, conveyed his pride and that of all Nigerians for their bravery, competence and patriotism in their efforts to expel the insurgents from all parts of the North-east.

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“The president said with their recent successes, which overwhelmingly turned the tide against Boko Haram, the Nigerian military had proven beyond any doubt that it remains fully capable of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria,” the statement said.

The military’s recent victories against Boko Haram, according to Jonathan, had also proven conclusively that all those, within and outside the country, who had cast aspersions on Nigerian soldiers and questioned their ability and willingness to overcome the insurgents were misinformed and wrong.

He assured the troops that the federal government would ensure that they receive all the equipment and logistics they require to complete the ongoing mission to reassert government’s effective control over all areas formerly held by Boko Haram.

Jonathan equally promised the soldiers that all issues pertaining to their welfare would be properly and expeditiously addressed.

He assured them that they would be duly rewarded for their bravery and patriotic service to the nation after the successful conclusion of ongoing operations against Boko Haram.

Families of soldiers who have sadly lost their lives in battles against Boko Haram would also be well provided for, the president also informed the troops.

The soldiers responded to the president’s address with chants of “never again” and assured him that insurgents and terrorists would never again be allowed to take and hold any Nigerian territory.

While in Mubi, President Jonathan, accompanied by the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala Ngilari, and the Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Bonnie Haruna, paid a courtesy call on the Emir, Alhaji Isa Ahmadu.

He assured the emir that the federal government would do all within its powers to ensure that normalcy is speedily returned to Mubi and other towns and settlements recently recaptured from Boko Haram to enable displaced persons return to their homes in the shortest possible time.

Jonathan also undertook an aerial inspection of other towns and areas recently recaptured from Boko Haram including Monguno.

Before returning to Abuja, the president met and conferred with the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Multiple Blasts Kill Many

Yet, despite the successes recorded by the troops in the theatre of war, the security agencies still don’t seem to have answers for the multiple bomb attacks in northern cities.

On the same day, a wave of bomb blasts hit Jos in Plateau State, killing 17, while a suicide bomber set off a bomb in Biu, Borno State, leading to the death of 10 persons.

In Biu, the largest town south of troubled Borno, a resident of the town who spoke anonymously to THISDAY, said: “A bomb blast happened just in front of one of the petrol stations in the town.

“The suicide bomber was a few metres from a petrol station when the bomb on him detonated, killing him and nine other persons in the vicinity.”

Speaking on phone from Biu, he said the suicide bomber was in a commercial tricycle, disembarked and walked in the direction of the filling station when the bomb detonated and killed 10 persons and caused injuries to several others.

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He said: “It is believed that the suicide bomber was headed for the filling station where the explosion would have made a bigger impact but the bomb went off before he could get to the target.”

He added that the corpses were evacuated to the General Hospital, Biu, where the injured were also taken for treatment.

A source at the hospital confirmed that corpses were brought in but declined to give further details.

Just as Biu was coming to terms with yet another attack, Jos, the Plateau State capital, was rocked by twin explosions outside the ever-busy University of Jos main gate and Pharmacy gate along Bauchi Road.

Although the number of casualties could not be ascertained, it was believed to be high.

A source said the first blast occurred adjacent to the university’s main gate close to the Federal College of Forestry, where the students were writing exams. The second blast occurred in front of the Pharmacy gate near an illegal bus park.

The blasts, which happened at about 6 pm, were a few minutes apart on the same stretch of road leading out of the city towards Bauchi.

Men of the Special Task Force and Nigeria Police Force were still at the scene of the bombings evacuating corpses and the injured at the time of filing this report.

Commenting on the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Plateau State Police Command, Mr. Emmanuel Abuh, and students of the university confirmed the twin blasts but could not give details on the casualties resulting from the explosions.

Abuh said he was yet to get details, but promised that they would be made available to journalists who besieged him.

Also, a student of the university, Adeolu Ajani, said: “We heard two loud explosions that caused confusion in the campus as the students scampered for safety.

“As I speak to you now, we are still in fear. We don’t know how many persons are involved. I pray that our students are not among the casualties.”

Another student said the blast was so loud that we thought it was inside the campus.

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The students of the university resumed this week after the school had been shut down for about three months, and are currently writing their second semester exams.

Security Agencies Trailing Sect Members

But as bombers continue to wreak havoc in towns in northern Nigeria, the Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC) and Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri, has said that intelligence agencies are on the trail of dispersed Boko Haram members.

This is just as the government revealed that children of influential Nigerians were being recruited into ISIS.

“The reports show that these youths who are mostly children of the rich and affluent are being recruited into ISIS.  We therefore call on parents and guardians, especially those whose wards are schooling abroad, to closely monitor the activities of these students who may be susceptible to the antics of the promoters of the ISIS ideology,” he said.

Omeri also said that government was more interested in arresting Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau alive, but said he could be overrun through other means, if arresting him proved impossible.

“Intelligence is on the trail of dispersed Boko Haram members and their leader. Also, the order was clear, capture Shekau alive until that proves impossible,” he said.

According to him, “Remarkable success has been recorded by the Nigerian military in the ongoing war against terror in the North-eastern part of the country.

“There is also stiff resistance to insurgents’ incursions into the country at several border points and the recapture of several towns and settlements which had Boko Haram presence earlier.”

The settlements include Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso, Wanti, Jeram and Karisungul, he said.

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