By Usama Dandare
In what may appear to be the deadliest attack by the satanic sect Boko Haram since 2009 when the violent group began massive destruction against the Nigerian states, it isn’t any longer news that the latest attack on Baga and Doron Baga towns of Borno state on the 3rd day of January 2015 left not fewer than 2000 (two thousand) lives dead and about three thousand others sustained various degrees of injuries while the entire towns were washed off the face of the earth in less than 24 hours.
Tragedy of this nature isn’t something new to occupants of the northeastern troubled region where thousands lives have been taken away in cold blood and still counting, thousands were brutally injured or taken for ransom with more than halve of their territory under terrorist captivity, while perhaps more than four million were forced to flee and turned refugees in their own land, thousands others fled into nearby countries like Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic with little or no means of livelihood.
They have been experiencing similar atrocities over the years, the April 19, 2013 mayhem unleashed by men of the Nigerian Army on the same Baga still remain fresh in our memories, soldiers belonging to Nigeria Military stormed Baga on a Friday evening in search of terrorist suspected to be hidden in the town, the soldiers were too unprofessional by failing to specify their targets but instead, they opted for a random fire which in turns claimed not fewer than 184 innocent civilians and razed to ashes over 2,000 houses.
Baga is located in the northeastern region of Nigeria lying east to the town of Kukawa, it is approximately 196km from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The people of Baga were business oriented with mostly farmers and fishermen, and until the sudden death of these towns, fish lovers will continue to remember the “Doron Baga” fish market which was located about six kilometers from the town and used to lie on the border of Lake Chad, it was a fishing center itself in the 1960s and 1970s, but the diminishing size of the lake has caused fishermen to move, and others turned to subsistence farmers.
The twin Baga towns that sits on the shores of Lake Chad and were famous for their smoked fish has perished away on January 3, 2015, the towns were caught in the vortex of the latest attack by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist sect. The ancient towns came under siege on Fridaynight of 2nd January which left in its wake deaths and destructions of a monumental scale, and both towns were wiped out of the map of Nigeria by angry gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram and the attack virtually suppressed throughout the weekend.
Insurgents seized the far northeastern town and began raiding nearby villages, thus leading to the death thousands civilians and set ablaze the entire communities in what may be one of the sect’s deadliest holocaust sprees since the insurgency started more than five years ago. Details of the violence are coming out in places such as Maiduguri, the Borno state capital and neighboring countries, where thousands fled with at least 7,000 more fleeing in the other directions to Chad and Cameroon.
Due to scarcity of news sources from the area because Boko Haram are in full control there and communication lines have been cut off, officials could not provide an exact death toll but various news media and both local and international human right agencies put death figures from hundreds to about 2,000, and more than 3,700 homes were completely destroyed in a town of less than 4,000 houses.
Reports released on January 7, 2015, by Digital Globe and Amnesty International shows an aerial shots of the two Baga towns, which had been hit previously by fighting, the pictures were shot a day before Boko Haram moved in and a second image taken four days later, showing homes and businesses completely razed down.
“These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days,” More than 3,700 structures were damaged or completely destroyed: 620 in Baga and more than 3,100 in Doron Baga,” Amnesty International said. Local officials have also said Baga and about 16 surrounding settlements were burnt to the ground and at least 20,000 people fled.
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders also released another report saying its team in the Borno state capital Maiduguri had provided assistance to 5,000 survivors of the attack, while the United Nations refugee agency said more than 11,300 Nigerian refugees had fled into neighbouring Chad. “About 300 women were said to have been rounded up and detained at a school, witnesses told Amnesty, adding that older women, mothers and children were released after four days but younger women kept.” Amnesty International said.
Baga town was seized by Boko Haram from Nigerian troops stationed at a multinational military base in the area and to make matters worst, soldiers deployed to secure lives and recapture the lost territory ran out of ammunition and had to flee for their lives. The insurgents later blocked all roads out of town and then pursued residents and fleeing soldiers into nearby bushes, forcing thousands of residents to take canoes to Lake Chad or swim across the river with hundreds suffocating in the waters.
The mayhem went on for days and advanced to surrounding villages with about seven other nearby villages also attacked and torched, those fleeing through the rivers were thought to had escaped but unlucky for them, the bloodthirsty terrorist had earlier blocked all boat paths killing occupants of any boat or canoe that came along. No one was spared irrespective of age or gender, hundreds of old women and children were forced to walk through the bush for several days before arriving Maiduguri or Chad. Already, Borno have been completely subdued and unless something urgent is done, there is the likelihood of outbreak of diseases as a result of decomposing bodies of humans and animals in the bushes.
In all these atrocities, the most saddest and tearful was the brutal killing of a woman as she was in labour during the Baga massacre, insurgents stormed the house where this poor mother was on the verge of giving birth and they indiscriminately shot at her while half of her baby (boy) was out and she died right away, leaving the remaining half of the baby in her womb. What an inhumanity!
Despite all these, what baffled me the most is the continuous denial by Nigerian government which is yet to officially believe the re-occurrence of another high magnitude massacre in the same Baga that was almost made a history in 2013 by the government itself, this denials further substantiates the palpability that the Nigerian government hasn’t sent any rescue team or any aid mission to the remaining survivors that were trapped in bushes and mountain tops without food, drinking water and other basic needs not to mention of bringing the perpetrators to justice.
This unholy raid in Baga is only calamitous but more serious and inhuman manslaughters may be on the cards, Boko Haram have again builds up from this attack as they have just added several dangerous armaments to their armoury, they succeeded from this latest attack in obtaining the most sophisticated communication equipments that the army flee and left behind in the Baga multinational forces military base. The communication gadgets were said to be more superior than the equipment at the 7 Division military headquarter heading operations in the troubled northeast, they have also captured armored personnel carriers and tanks with which i am optimistic will be use in unleashing more mayhems on the Nigerian states.
Insurgents in Nigeria has forcibly conscripted hundreds of young men and abducted hundreds of women and girls in the past years, with the whereabouts of thousands citizens still unaccounted for and it’s widely believed that many of the suicide bombings in recent days were executed by young boys and girls that were abducted by the insurgents. Let’s not forget to remember the 276 school virgins that were kidnapped while writing their final exams by the sect at a government secondary school in Chibok last April, 2014, the whereabouts of these maidens is still unknown and it all appeared like the federal government had given up in the search to rescue these girls, and about 400 others were also taken away in different locations.
Considering the less-care attitudes exhibited by both Nigerian government and the international communities toward fighting terrorism in this part of the world, a deadly monstrous conspiracy against the populace of Nigeria, precisely those in the northern parts cannot be dismissed. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians have died as a result of insurgency that erupted in the northern region after the killing of Boko Haram’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Yusuf by men of the Nigerian Police Force in July, 2009.
Since then, holocaust have been taking place and those in the corridors of power looks unperturbed while the electorates are joining the comity of the disenfranchised on a daily routine. The poor masses are not safe wherever they go and in whatever they are do, their wealths are all gone, their friends and relatives massacred and their merchandise burnt. In fact, Nigerians in the troubled north now have little or no hope for a prosperous future again and indeed, they have paid the price of what is unknown to them with there blood, wealth and personal effects, even animals were not spared by ravaging flames that burnt virtually both living and non-living object it came across.
It is undoubtedly that Baga has now become part of an inglorious history of the ongoing onslaught against the innocent populace of northern Nigeria that has consumed several towns and villages in the last five years, killing at least 200,000 lives with over a million more injured and about 4-6 million internally and externally displaced. If Nigeria as a nation cannot win an internal uprising, i wonder how possible could it be for us to cope with invasion from external forces?
The world, human right groups and all agencies concern should note that there is serious humanitarian crisis going on in Baga and the northern region of Nigeria at large, dead bodies are still in the bush and there is apparent shortage of food, water for survivors. There is also no medication for the injured and no effective plan to resettle the displaced. It was like the end of the world for the occupants of these towns and villages. The lucky ones escaped by the whiskers but not many were all that lucky, especially women and children who ran into the bush with gunshots wounds, hundreds died from excessive bleeding and only God knows how many dead bodies are there decomposing in the forests right now. The elderly and children who could not flee died in their thatched huts that were engulfed by ravaging flames. What a calamity!
And until the Nigerian government rise to tackle the rising menace of unemployment among its teeming youths, poverty among the populace and corruption within the government, then the country’s security challenges can never be brought back to normal. Nigerians are suffering in all aspect of human and social life as a result of weak leadership, coupled with the high level of corruption in the government which is increasingly inflating by the day. Nigerian government have failed to improve in all sectors of the economy, putting the lives of it’s citizenry at owner’s risk. And for it failure to protect lives and properties of its electorates, Nigeria as a nation has demonstrated to the globe that it is a failed state and see no wisdom why any government should be left to keep on truckin’ despite failing woefully to secure lives, properties and its territories, particularly in a democratic dispensation where the common masses reserved the right and constitutional powers to change any regime at will.
Finally, may the Almighty everlasting living God grant the dead a peaceful eternal rest and give their families the fortitudes to bear the lost. May He also bring back peace and harmony to our nation, and expose to shame all those behind these devilish and ungodly atrocities against the poor innocent Nigerians.
Usama A. Dandare.
A social commentator writes in from Sokoto.
#iamBaga #Bagamassacre #BringBackOurGirls #ChibokGirls