The cowardly attack carried out on the convoy of Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima on Tuesday last week by suspected members of Boko Haram’s Islamic State West Africa Province [ISWAP] faction was shocking but it was not entirely unexpected given the security situation in that part of the country.
The governor had been touring the state as part of his party, APC’s presidential and National Assembly election campaigns. He had earlier toured the nine local government areas of southern Borno State including Chibok, Gwoza, Askira-Uba and Biu. Shettima also undertook tours to northern parts of Borno including Monguno, where he spent the night. On Monday last week, he traveled to Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government, returned to the state capital, Maiduguri that night and set out on Tuesday for Mafa and Dikwa local governments, where he campaigned. He then proceeded to Gamboru, headquarters of Ngala LGA where he addressed a rally and spent the night.
Book Haram terrorists laid an ambush on Tuesday for the governor’s convoy. They allowed most of the convoy to pass, then took advantage of the dust that enveloped the scene and opened fire on the rear vehicles in the convoy. Six vehicles were hit, three persons died while a soldier sustained injuries. Other persons in the vehicles fled into the bush and escaped unhurt. The insurgents also carted away the six vehicles they attacked. The main part of the convoy had proceeded to Gamboru and did not even become aware until later that night that some vehicles and their occupants were missing. Gamboru, which is close to the border with Cameroon, was one of the areas occupied by Boko Haram before it was liberated by multinational forces from Chad.
Reacting to the attack after he returned to Maiduguri on Wednesday, Governor Kashim Shettima visited victims’ families, met with security chiefs to review the situation and expressed his heartfelt condolences to kinsmen and friends of the victims. He said the attack was intended “to attract local and global media attention in order to sustain propaganda strategy and to instil fear in citizens and gallant troops.” His assessment of the insurgents’ aim was certainly right because Boko Haram thrives on propaganda. Its senseless bombings, abductions and other terrorist activities are all intended to gain publicity and strike fear in the minds of Nigerians and the international community.
Shettima also pledged to “continue his collaboration with all security agencies and volunteers in remaining committed to the ongoing fight against Boko Haram.” He said the incident will not make him to “have doubt in the capacity of the gallant and patriotic personnel of the Nigerian armed forces who have dedicated their lives fighting for peace and the freedom of Borno people.” This is the right spirit. Rather than be cowed by fear or sink into dangerous blame games, we join him in praising the gallantry and patriotism of the armed forces and the Civilian JTF and in urging them to intensify the battle until final victory is secured.
Another issue that arose from last week’s unfortunate event was the report that Governor Kashim Shettima does not use bullet proof vehicles despite the fact that insecurity is still rife in his state and some of its neighbours. According to knowledgeable sources, there are two bullet proof vehicles in the Maiduguri Government House but the governor steadfastly refused to use them. He reportedly said “it is morally wrong for him as leader of his convoy’s delegation to be driving in bullet proof cars while his aides and associates who travel because of him, drive in ordinary vehicles.” The governor also reportedly said that “it is not an act of leadership and he also feels that driving in bullet proof cars can send panic in the minds of his aides and associates in his convoy.” We commend the governor for his humane and conscientious leadership but we urge him to accept the guidance of his security officers in security matters.