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BOKO HARAM PLANNED

By NBF News

Palpable anxiety gripped residents of Maiduguri, Borno State capital on Thursday as the rumour of plans to mark the first anniversary of the killing of the Boko Haram leader, Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf by his loyalists spread across the state. Yusuf was arrested and killed by the police in the wake of the fundamentalists' insurgence in Borno and some other northern states last year.

Earlier in the week, a blurred video clip of Bukar Shakau, deputy leader to the slain Boko Haram leader was being circulated in Maiduguri , the state capital via mobile phones. The video purportedly presented the dreaded Shakau as still alive and preparing to stage a come-back to the state from his alleged hide-out. In the video recording, Shakau was quoted as saying in Hausa language: 'I have the intention to retaliate.'

Shakau who was said to have led the four hours attack on the Borno Police headquarters and police officers' quarters on July 27, 2009 before the fundamentalists went berserk for the five days carnage, allegedly swore in the video clip to return to the state despite claims by the police that he was killed during the two days of bombardment by the combined team of police and soldiers, last years.

Daily Sun observed on Wednesday evening that many people had to scurry home in the evening as soon as the rumour went round the city. It was also gathered that the police had discovered the fundamentalists' flag hoisted at the extremists' former enclave, Kofa Shehu around the Shehu of Bornu's Palace as well as Jere Divisional Police Headquarters, which was burnt down by the Islamist sect last year.

Heavy presence of riot policemen was noticed in some strategic locations in the metropolis even as residents discussed the purported return of the Boko Haram men in fear. 'I just hope the police are prepared to curtail any move by the people because that was how the rumour started last year. At the end, everybody seemed to be caught unawares including government,' Alhaji Mohammed Aliyu, a businessman told Daily Sun in a chat.

The Governor, Ali Sheriff who returned to the state earlier in the week also held several meetings with top government officials on Thursday morning on what Government House sources called 'efforts to nip any insurgence in the bud.'

Reacting, Borno State Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Abdu told journalists on Thursday that the planned return of the sect was untrue. He also faulted the video clip, claiming, it was manipulated to create chaos in the state.

'We actually heard the rumour about their plan to come back and that one (Bukar) Shakau was also planning to return. All these are false because the said Shakau had been killed last year during the attack. Even the state security council confirmed that he was killed and we saw the photograph that he was actually dead. I think it is the handwork of some people to just create panic in the minds of the people and put the state under tension and throw it into confusion,' he disclosed.

The commissioner also denied alleged involvement and arrest of one of the top aides of the governor in the Boko Haram scare, insisting that 'no senior government official was arrested for involvement in hoisting Boko Haram flag or released on self recognition by the police.' He however appealed to the media to help educate the people to go about their normal businesses.