The Catholic Church yesterday gave a list of 25 towns in three North-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, presently under the control of the outlawed terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The towns include: Damboa, Buni Yadi, Madagali, Gwoza, Gujba, Gulak, Bama, Gulani, Shuwa, Marte, Kukawa, Michika, Dikwa, Bularafa, Bazza, Gamboru Ngalla and Buni Gari.
Others are Banki, Bara, Pulka, Bumsa, Ashgashiya, Taltaba, Limankara and Njibulwa.
Giving a situation report and update of the activities of the Boko Haram sect in the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri over the last one month, Archbishop of the Diocese, Oliver Dashe Doeme, said: “It may interest you to know the towns that are being controlled conveniently by the Boko Haram. Where their flags are flying in Borno, Yobe States and parts of Adamawa State that make up the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri. Apart from Sambisa which is their main Camp and many more camps which are yet to be touched by the Nigerian troops. Right now we have close to 20 priests taking refuge in Yola.”
The church cried out saying that Maiduguri, the Borno State capital “is sitting on a keg of gun powder, with the fall of Bama which is about 71 kilometres away and Konduga, the next major town is Maiduguri.
“There are conflicting reports about Bama as to whether it is in the hands of the terrorists. But the number of civilians that have migrated into Maiduguri on foot from Bama, Kawuri and Konduga is suggestive that the terrorists have an upper hand in the fight.
“We are faced with a huge humanitarian crisis; people are sleeping on the streets in Maiduguri, despite the seven or more camps within the city for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The state government is doing its bit to provide for them but the number is overwhelming and the resources are limited.”
Continuing, Archbishop Doeme said: “The last one month has seen the intensification and aggressive devastation of the Boko Haram activities in northern, central and southern parts of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri. The brutality and callousness with which people are killed can only be compared to that of the ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Many of our people are being forced out of their ancestral homes, villages and towns.
“Right now, thousands are living in caves on the mountains, some in the forest; the few who were able to escape are being absorbed by friends and relatives in Maiduguri, Mubi and Yola. Thousands have managed to escape into Cameroun and are living under very difficult conditions of lack of food, shelter and medication.”
He lamented: “What is very worrying and discouraging in the whole scenario, is the attitude of the military whom we mortgage and depend on for security. In the face of these attacks, they flee and ask civilians to do the same. There is no doubt that the morale of the security men and women is at its lowest ebb in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.”
According to Doeme, “The level of sophistication and capabilities that these terrorists have attained within five years is very revealing and scary. The mastery and tact with which they fight is unequalled by our military. Their resilience can be compared to that of trained Marines. That is why they are able to over-run towns and villages almost unchallenged. They can boast of armoured tanks and armoured personnel carrier (APC), rocket launchers, anti aircraft and anti tank destroyers, sub-machine guns, new and latest guns AK 47 and an inexhaustible boxes of ammunitions and bullets.”
He added: “While I refused to believe a single narration of this reality because both Christians and Muslims are being affected, both Christians and Muslims have been killed; both Christians and Muslims have been driven out of their ancestral homes, villages and towns, Christians and Muslims have been internally displaced and are refuges in their own home state. There is still a religious under-tone to this whole mess.
“We might shy away from it, we may be silent and unable to speak up or speak out now against the plan to Islamize the North-east and eventually Nigeria. But what we are witnessing in Northern Adamawa is a clear confirmation and the unfolding of this agenda. But I am speaking as a leader and shepherd of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri and how much destruction and devastation we have seen and are still going through.”
He lambasted government, stressing: “The near inaction of the government, the lukewarm attitude and the silence of the government is very disturbing. There is a total disconnection between what our so called leaders in Abuja report in the media and the reality on ground. We wish they have the courage to fly into these areas and see things for themselves.
“Our people are dying every day and in most cases with no one to bury them decently, they are left to rot; their homes and properties looted; they have become slaves and prisoners in their fatherland, here is a government that cannot safe guard the lives of its citizens and indeed life has become so cheap that it can be wasted any moment. We used to think that salt is the cheapest commodity in the market, well, life is cheaper now especially in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.”
The Archbishop added: “We are faced with a huge humanitarian crisis; people are sleeping on the streets in Maiduguri, despite the seven or more camps within the city for the IDPs. The state government is doing her bit to provide for them but the number is overwhelming and the resources are limited.
“We are again witnessing a mass exodus of our brothers and sisters from the East, South and West. Many people are relocating to other parts of Nigeria; even the soldiers are moving their families out of the barracks to safer towns and cities in Nigeria.
“This is our current situation in the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri. I may not know much about the politics and agenda of Boko Haram, those behind it, the sponsors and sympathizers.”
One thing I know for sure that they are human beings and not spirits, a local terrorist group with an International face and connection.”
Archbishop Doeme concluded thus: “Does the government have all the facts and intelligence about this group, YES but the government and our political leaders lack the will to act in the interests of her citizens perhaps because of the political ambitions. As a Nation we are almost loosing this battle because it is spinning out of control. The earlier we come together as Nigerians forgetting our religious, ethnic, regional, cultural and ideological differences to face this menace the better for us. We are sinking fast in the quick sand, let us swallow our empty pride as Nigerians and ask for International assistance in tackling this problem. After all, if we have been assisting other countries and nations restore peace and order, why do we feel that it is humiliating to ask for help now that our house is on fire?”