Contrary to the claims of the Nigerian Government and the military, Boko Haram insurgents still have absolute control of at least three local government areas in Borno State and a large chunk of the Sambisa forest, a report this morning said.
“The truth is that Boko Haram is still in control of Marte, Kala Balge and Damasak,” an officer said, as reported by Daily Trust on Sunday.
The paper quoted defence spokesman, General Rabe Abubakar, as saying that in certain areas of northern Borno, including Abadam, remnants of Boko Haram insurgents are still hiding because of lack of food and logistics. According to him, they attack remote villages to get food and petrol.
He said: “We have caged them. It is systematic and deliberate to ensure that those who are living in those areas are not affected by what we are doing. The Boko Haram flag is not hoisted in any part of the country. They may have what you call freedom of movement, but as a result of our operations, they are not capable of holding any territory.
“Another officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said that a harbour, which was constructed at the heart of the Sambisa forest by the military government in the 1980s to serve as a training and logistics base for the defunct National Guards, had been taken over by the Boko Haram.
“The harbour is very big and has some buildings underground. Sadly, all the armaments stocked there were not evacuated up till the time the Boko Haram took over. We strongly believe that top commanders of the group and many high priced hostages are living there,” he said.
Most of the local government areas in Borno that are still under the Boko Haram control are on the border, the report said.
It said its findings reveal that there are more than 10,000 unmanned corridors into Nigeria from neighbouring countries that have no gate, no police, and no customs or immigrations officers. It is through those borders that the Boko Haram terrorists and other criminals smuggle weapons and drugs from as far as Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and Libya, the paper reported.
“From Cameroon, for instance, there are over 300 outlets that you get into Nigeria or out of the country with any kind of truck or load, provided you know the terrain,” a local fisherman, Kunce Mai Zare, who is originally from Kuros-kawwa, a village in Monguno Local Government Area but now living in Maiduguri, was quoted as saying.
He said that insurgents and smugglers of contraband goods and those who engage in arm shipment use various methods, including donkeys, camels and bull-driven carts to ferry their consignments into the country without a trace.