Crunch talks in Maiduguri today over Baga

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State will host an extra-ordinary meeting in Maiduguri today over the reported deterioration of security in northern parts of the state, especially the fishing town of Baga.

Expected at the meeting are heads of security establishments, leadership of the Civilian JTF and hunters, traditional rulers and Borno elders.

The state’s three Senators, 10 House of Reps and 28 state assembly members, selected chairmen and commissioners from local government areas affected by recent attacks, leadership of the University of Maiduguri and selected tertiary institutions, chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Bar Association, Nigerian Union of Journalists, National Council of Women Societies and Nigeria Legion in Borno State are also expected to attend.

The governor’s spokesman Isa Gusau, who announced this on Friday, said the meeting will hold at 4pm during which participants will review the situation in view of recent developments, make suggestions and come up with a resolution that will be delivered to President Buhari by a delegation.

The state government and other institutions concerned by aspects of the resolutions will take necessary and immediate actions to implement them, Gusau said.

Governor Kashim Shettima had on different occasions, including in recent weeks, met with President Muhammadu Buhari and other security stakeholders over matters of security in Borno State and the President had regularly proved his empathy, commitment and determination to end the Boko Haram crisis in order to create enabling environment for the aggressive rebuilding of destroyed communities, rehabilitation and resettlement of victims which the Borno government has been doing since 2015.‎

The Daily Trust claimed the Boko Haram fighters are holding tight to Baga, Doron-Baga, Kross Kawwa, Bunduran, Kekeno and Kukawa towns of Borno State, following three days of fierce battles with Nigerian military from 26 December.

However, the Nigerian Army last Friday declared that it never lost control of Baga town in northern Borno, as against reports that Boko Haram insurgents overran the area.

Maj.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, the Chief of Training and Operations made the clarifications in Maiduguri while fielding questions shortly after unveiling new military operations in the northeast. He spoke on behalf of Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff,

Adeosun said that the gallant troops successfully repelled the insurgents’ attack and secured Baga and its environs.

According to him, the insurgents had on Wednesday unleashed a coordinated attack on a military base in the town but the gallant troops repelled and pursued the insurgents.

“We have taken control of Baga. I am talking about the position of Baga as at yesterday(Thursday) when we stabilised the situation.

“Baga is not in the hands of the Boko Haram insurgents; I repeat Baga is not in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists. They contested it and lost.”

Confusing reports indicated that Boko Haram insurgents had overrun the fishing town on Nigeria’s border with Chad and Niger Republics, and hoisted their flags, a situation which forced the inhabitants to flee.

The Nigerian Air Force appeared also to corroborate the army in stating that Baga had been liberated.

Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, gave a detailed account about how the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE and Allied Air Forces provided air support to repel the attack by Boko Haram in Baga.

“It may be recalled that the Headquarters 7 Brigade Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Baga came under attack by members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the evening of December 26.

“Upon receipt of the information of the attack, the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE immediately dispatched a NAF Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), platform along with two Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships to provide support for the troops to repel the attack.

“The NAF ISR aircraft, which was overhead the troops’ location as at 7.15pm, also worked closely with a NAF and another allied ISR aircraft that are also in the operation area at the time of the attack.

“The ISR platforms were in contact with the ground troops and assisted in directing their fire against the terrorists, while the helicopter gunships engaged the terrorists at isolated locations destroying some of their vehicles and neutralising some fighters,” he said.

He said the ATF also provided support for Nigerian Army (NA), and Nigerian Navy (NN), troops at the Naval Base at Doron Baga, “which equally came under attack by ISWAP fighters on the morning of Dec.27 “.

According to Daramola the ATF deployed two ISR platforms, two Helicopter Gunships and two Alpha Jet aircraft to provide ISR and close air support to the troops.

“After establishing communication with the ground troops, the location of the terrorists was ascertained and engaged by the Alpha Jet aircraft.

”The NAF and allied ISR platforms also spotted two ISWAP vehicles heading southwards from Baga and vectored the Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the vehicles, completely destroying one of them and neutralising the occupants.

”In order to enhance the quality of coordination between the air and ground operations, the Theatre Commander and Maritime Component Commander were carried onboard the ISR platform during one of the flights,” he said.

The spokesman said in all, the ATF conducted 20 missions in 21 sorties with a total of about 39 hours flown on December 26 and 27 in support of operations in Baga general area.

“The NAF appreciates the existing synergy with our gallant surface forces as well as our Regional Allies in adding value to our collective efforts to protect our territory and people,” he said.

But up till Saturday, the Air Force was still attacking Boko Haram positions around Baga.

According to Daramola, the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE neutralised several Boko Haram fighters at their hideout near Baga in Northern Borno on Saturday, in several aerial strikes.

He explained that the attack was conducted after a NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform spotted the terrorists assembled under some trees around the Fish Dam near Baga.

Daramola said the ATF therefore, dispatched an Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the location.

” The aircraft multiple attack passes, killing several of the terrorists and causing serious injuries to others.

“The surviving terrorists were mopped-up in subsequent follow on strikes,” the spokesman said.

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