JTF finds Boko Haram arms, graves, bunker and tunnels
Some shocking discoveries have been made in Maiduguri, the beleaguered Borno State capital that is the engine -room of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Restore Order II, has found mass graves, tunnels and bunkers in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
JTF spokesman Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa showed reporters shallow graves, tunnels and bunkers at Bulabulin Nganaram on Sunday. He said Boko Haram men who died in gun battles with security troops were buried in the graves.
Bulabulin Nganaram is the main stronghold of the insurgents.
Borno has become the hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria since 2009, with the activities of the deadly confined largely to the state and the neighbouring Yobe Stae in recent months.
According to reporters, decomposing bodies and human bones were found round the shallow graves in the open field. There was also a big bunker where the JTF said it discovered a cache of weapons.
According to the JTF, the was dug behind a two-bedroom apartment, making residents to believe it was a sewage pit. There were also tuunels, which are believed to have served as passage for the insurgents from their hideouts.
The JTF, in a statement by Col Musa, said: 'The Joint Task Force (JTF) between 3-8 July, 2013 dislodged Boko Haram terrorists from their main enclave in Bulabulin Nganaram, Aljajeri and Faluja areas of Maiduguri metropolis.
'During the encounter, some terrorists were killed in the fire fight, including the main Amir of Bulabulin Nganaram (who was on the wanted list of the JTF with a ten million naira bounty). He was responsible for the killing of a teacher and three students of Sanda Karami Secondary School, Ruwan Zafi Maiduguri. Many abducted women, girls and children were rescued and handed over to their families by the Task Force.
'During the search of the areas, many arms and ammunition of various calibres buried in houses and cemeteries were recovered. Decomposing corpses of those killed by the terrorists were also found in soak-away and mass graves of terrorists killed. Troops also discovered vast network mouse-holes linking compounds and underground tunnels as well as bunkers under houses. Troops are still searching the area for more weapons, ammunition and mass graves. The JTF uses this opportunity to appeal to members of the public for support and more information on terrorists' activities.'
Despite Boko Haram leader Imam Shekau's denial, the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North insisted on Sunday that the ceasefire negotiation with the sect is still on course.
The committee said Nigerians should expect 'something positive' before the end of the week.
It, however, said it would not take up issues with Shekau in order not to lose focus.
A member of the committee, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, insisted that the committee had made progress in its negotiation with Boko Haram.
The source said: 'The ceasefire negotiation is still on course; there is no going back. Before the end of the week, something positive will come up that will vindicate our claim that we are negotiating.
'We do not want to counter what Imam Shekau said, but before the end of the week, there will be something positive.'
Asked to clear the air on Shekau's denial of ceasefire, the source said: 'We doubt indeed if Shekau made that statement. And if he did, we are raising these issues: Do they know Mohammed Marwana or not who was the person we met with?
Has anyone come out to say that Marwana is not a member of Boko Haram?
Has anyone disputed the position of the Deputy Leader of Boko Haram which Marwana claimed he is occupying?'
The source stressed that neither the Chairman of the committee nor any of its members said they met Shekau. 'We had talks with Marwana, who represented the group,' he said, adding:
'The Boko Haram leadership up till now has not disowned Marwana, who also defended the sect last week that it was not behind the killing of 36 students in a secondary school in Mamudo in Yobe State. Marawana told us that Boko Haram members were not behind the gruesome killings. The sect has also corroborated Marwana's position.
'If Marwana is not a member or one of the leaders of the sect, Boko Haram leadership would have disowned him by now. In March, one Abdulazeez said he was speaking for Boko Haram and his claim was swiftly dismissed.
'So, we will not take up issues with Shekau because if we do, we will now leave substance and begin to chase the shadow.
'We do not want anything that could derail our ongoing talks with Boko Haram.'
On the claim by the Defence Headquarters that it was not involved in ceasefire negotiation, the source said it was not yet time for Defence to be involved.
'This committee does not report to the Chief of Defence Staff or any of the service chiefs. We are expected to report to the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who will then decide on how the military and other security agencies should be involved,' the source said.