Thousands of residents have fled their houses, with many sleeping in the bush after Boko Haram insurgents took over control of Gubio town, headquarters of Gubio local government area of Borno State, Daily Trust learnt.
Impeccable sources said the insurgents, armed with four gun trucks, stormed the area around 5pm with no resistance.
“The insurgents held congregational prayers in front of Gubio district head’s palace at the heart of the town and mounted their gun trucks there, near the point on which Borno Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum addressed residents on Sallah day,” it was learnt.
Daily Trust reports that the governor’s visit was in response to attack previous day by the insurgents, which led to seven hours of battle between the insurgents and soldiers under 5 brigade of the Nigerian Army in charge of Gubio axis.
The governor visited the brigade’s headquarters where he was briefed by the then theatre commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Benson Akinroluyo and the Brigade commander, Colonel I.A Ajose.
“It was on the strength of the assurances by the army that the governor Zulum reassured the residents.
The Nigerian Army had on August 17 replaced both the theatre commander, the Brigade commander and some officers involved in the Boko Haram under Operation Lafiya Dole. The theatre commander was moved to the Army’s training and doctrine headquarters and replaced with Major General Adeniyi. The brigade commander in Gubio was also replaced with Colonel O.A Awolo.
Residents numbering more than 100,000 prepared leaving but were persuaded by the Governor. He released more operational vehicles to volunteer fighters and held closed door operational meeting with the Army’s leadership.
Before then, Chairman of Gubio, Zannah Modu Gubio, informed the governor that residents were afraid concerning plans by the army to move soldiers out of Gubio. The theatre commander however dismissed the fears, assuring the governor of continued presence even though he admitted there was going to be some movements.
Yesterday’s appearance in Gubio has led to mass displacement with information as the insurgents remained in control towards the night.
With the seizure of Gubio, the insurgents now are present in at least five local government areas, all in northern Borno, the sources add.
The insurgents took control of Baga, a major economic town in Kukawa local government area months back and have remained in full control of business mobility, giving them opportunities to raising funds from forced taxes and businesses across the riverine area. The insurgents, according to more sources, also control Kross Kawwa also in Kukawa and Kukawa town itself. The insurgents are said to have been in control of Marte and Abadam local government areas as well as substantial parts of Guzamala, all in the north of Borno.
Sources said from Maiduguri down to Damasak covering a distance of 200 kilometers, the military no longer operates a base as instead, a new strategy of super camp is being introduced such that operational components will be mobile.