A police mobile training academy in Gwoza, Borno State, as well as Buni Yadi, a town in Yobe State, have been overrun by Boko Haram terrorists in separate attacks in the North-east.
According to an eyewitness, shots were heard after the Islamists arrived the police academy near Gwoza, which has been under constant siege, in three armoured vehicles and on dozens of motorcycles, reported the BBC. They were also said to have hoisted their black and white flag at the college.
A police spokesman confirmed the attack while a senior security source said it had not been possible to communicate with the academy since Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
The Liman Kara College is on the outskirts of Gwoza town, seized by Boko Haram this month.
A resident of Liman Kara told the BBC Hausa service that police recruits were seen running from the college after the attack began at dawn on Wednesday.
He said he was unable to confirm if there were casualties as he had joined other residents and fled the town to nearby hills.
A security official who did not want to be named said the militants had “entered the school”, but he could not confirm if they were in control of the college as it had not been possible to contact it.
A similar attack on the college was repelled by officers undergoing training there two weeks ago.
Another security source told journalists in Maiduguri that the training camp was finally overrun by the insurgents on Wednesday after a running battle a day earlier.
After a confrontation with the military about two weeks ago in Damboa, which was under their control for about a month, the insurgents fled to Gwoza and subsequently captured the town. This forced all the residents of the area to flee.
But the insurgents, according to the source, never felt comfortable with a major security post about 15 kilometres away in Liman Kara and as such engaged the police mobile training college in the village on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The school finally succumbed to the insurgents on Wednesday as many police officers in the camp had to flee as some were killed.
He said the capture of the school took place at about 3pm after a drawn-out siege on the college renowned for training riot policemen all over the country.
The source said: “The terrorists who engaged military troops with sophisticated weapons succeeded in chasing away security personnel undergoing training at the camp and took over by hoisting their flags yesterday at the camp, as the security operatives at the camp ran away for safety.”
In recent weeks, the terrorists have been moving from their rural camps and taking over substantial towns.
The Liman Kara academy is one of only two riot police training colleges in Nigeria and the militants are likely to find weapons there.
Several hundred militants were said to have been involved in the raid on the college, which had more than 290 police trainees at the time.
Gwoza town is located 183 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the capital of troubled Borno State.
Reacting to the frequent attacks on Gwoza, the senator representing Borno South in the Senate, Mohammed Ali Ndume, said the town had been completely deserted and over 50,000 residents of the town had fled.
“This is not the first time in the history of the nation that insurgent attacks have happened. It had happened before, only that the way Nigeria is handling it is quite different,” Ndume said.
Ndume, who was at the various camps for displaced persons from Gwoza alongside Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, on Wednesday said: “We are in Madagali, Gulak, Mubi and other villages in the borders of Borno and Adamawa to sympathise, console with our people over the loss of their beloved ones and properties.
“Today, we will be visiting Biu and Gombe to meet with the other displaced persons there.”
Ndume explained that the inability to surmount the insurgency in the North-east and other parts of the country might not be unconnected with the nonchalant attitude of the government.
“We are supposed to by now learn from our mistakes in the handling of the insurgency problem. If the right things were done, it would not have happened in the first place.
“Now that it has happened, there is no point apportioning blames on any person or group, but this is the time to look for solution,” he said.
Ndume said nobody could give the accurate figure of the displaced persons, adding that everyone in Gwoza, with a population of over 50,000 people, had deserted the town.
“The only people left in the town now are either the aged persons or those that have no where to go or the sick. Everyone is running, running with their loved ones, properties and heading to unknown destinations, even as the enemy continues to chase them and smite any person they come across,” he said.
In a related incident, Boko Haram Islamists were said to have seized control of Bunu Yadi in Yobe State, witnesses and a local official said yesterday.
Several residents who fled the Boko Haram assault on Buni Yadi said it began late last month, with the insurgents ultimately taking over the main government building.
They have reportedly raised their flag above the building and have carried out summary executions, including of two people who were caught smoking cigarettes.
Abdullahi Bego, the spokesman for the state governor, Ibrahim Geidam, could not confirm the executions.
But he told AFP: “As I speak, there is no military presence in Buni Yadi and locals say that Boko Haram members come and go as they please.
“So many people from Buni Yadi have fled to the state capital Damaturu.”
Residents said the terrorists, who massacred dozens of students at a boarding school in Buni Yadi in February and kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from neighbouring Borno State in April, had set up roadblocks.
They were also robbing people as they tried to flee.
“I left Buni Yadi yesterday (Wednesday) because it was no longer safe for me and my family,” said trader Surajo Muhammad.
“The gunmen shot dead two men for smoking and they also killed a known drug peddler,” he added.
Tijjani Bukar, who also fled, reported the same executions. “I couldn’t stay any longer because I came to realise these people have come to stay,” he said.
“I thought they would be there for a few days but from our understanding, they have turned the town into their (territory).”
The United Nations has confirmed that Boko Haram had seized control of the towns of Damboa and Gwoza in Borno State in recent weeks.
There were indications that Damboa was retaken by the military in an offensive earlier this month but details were not clear.