by Frederick Nwabufo,
On May 6, 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls in the “snake hole” of Boko Haram were released. This was after a recondite negotiation between the government and the sect.
In October 2016, 21 of the girls were released. At the time, the government said the sect agreed to release the girls in “good faith” – with nothing in exchange.
But when the second miscellany of girls was freed, the government “uncharacteristically” disclosed that five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for them. However, reports said the sect was also given 2 million euros for their release.
The action of the government was celebrated, but at the same time criticised by some Nigerians.
Responding to critics, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, said even the US negotiated with the Taliban for the release of a soldier.
“In his inaugural address, President Muhammadu Buhari said the administration cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls. He also said this government will do all it can to rescue them alive,” Mohammed had said in response to the Peoples Democratic Party’s opposition to the deal.
“If that includes swapping some Boko Haram elements for the girls, so what? Will the PDP rather have the girls stay in perpetual captivity, just to prove a ludicrous point?
“Didn’t super power United States engage in negotiations with the Taliban that led to the exchange of five Taliban fighters for US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl in 2014? Didn’t Israel release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2011?”
However, there was a cathartic reaction to the government’s decision when the freed Boko Haram commanders, who are said to be deadly, released a video threatening to pour out a gale of wrath on the country. In the video, Shuaibu Moni, one of the commanders, claimed that more than five of his “comrades” were released. Moni also said the sect would launch attacks in Maiduguri and the federal capital territory.
Not long after this threat, Boko Haram struck. This was after an initial lull – when the insurgents could not muster enough force to carry out attacks. It has however sustained its attacks since the swap.
It is rumoured that the release of the commanders, and perhaps, the payment of a ransom for the release of the Chibok girls, emboldened the sect.
Here are some of the major attacks since the release of the Boko Haram commanders.
MAY 13: SECURITY GUARD KILLED IN SUICIDE ATTACK ON MAIDUGURI UNIVERSITY
On this day, two suicide bombers attacked the University of Maiduguri, killing one security guard and leaving a soldier wounded.
A source, who confirmed this to TheCable, said the incident happened around 1am on Saturday.
“A male and female suicide bomber struck at the mechanical works department of the university,” the source said.
“One security guard was killed and a soldier injured. The injured soldier has been taken to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.”
MAY 18: SUICIDE BOMBERS HIT MAIDUGURI UNIVERSITY
On this day, three male suicide bombers attacked the university, but they were unsuccessful because no life was lost.
Victor Isuku, the spokesman of the Borno police command, confirmed the attack.
The attack happened five days after a similar daring onslaught on the university.
MAY 19: MOTHER, TWO CHILDREN KILLED IN SUICIDE ATTACK IN BORNO VILLAGE
On this day, four people were killed, including a mother and two children when suicide bombers detonated explosives in Umarari village, Borno state. Eight other people sustained wounds.
The state police command said the attack was carried out by three suicide bombers, a male and two females.
Victor Isuku, the police spokesman, who confirmed the incident, said the bombers attempted to gain access to Maiduguri town, but that they failed.
He said the members of the civilian joint task force challenged the bombers, who proceeded to detonate the explosives strapped to their bodies.
JUNE 7: BOKO HARAM LAUNCHES OPEN ATTACK ON MAIDUGURI
On this day, the insurgents launched a frontal attack on Addawari village of Maiduguri. This was perhaps, the sect’s first open and daring attack on the city since May 6 when its commanders were released.
According to residents, the insurgents came to the village around 5:30pm shooting sporadically and detonating bombs. More than a dozen people were reported killed in the attack. However, troops moved in and stopped the rampage.
JUNE 19: 12 PEOPLE KILLED IN SUICIDE ATTACK IN BORNO VILLAGE
On this day, the Borno police command said five Boko Haram insurgents killed 12 people in multiple suicide attacks in Dalori, a village near Maiduguri, capital of the state.
Victor Isuku, spokesman of the command, said the first attack happened around 8:30 pm on Sunday when five female suicide bombers detonated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) strapped to their bodies.
He said the first attacker detonated her bomb near a mosque, killing seven persons, while the second one did the same thing in a house, killing five people.
JUNE 21: TWO POLICEMEN KILLED IN AMBUSH
On this day, at least two policemen were reported killed while 57 others fled when the insurgents ambushed their convoy in the Damboa area of Borno state.
An officer who witnessed the attack said some of his colleagues were yet to be found.
He said men of the state anti-robbery squad (SARS) deployed to rescue the officers were not able to do so. He added that they were conveying the corpse of a policewoman to Adamawa state when the sect struck.
JUNE 25: 16 PEOPLE KILLED IN MULTIPLE SUICIDE ATTACKS IN MAIDUGURI
On this day, at least 10 people were killed in multiple attacks carried out by suicide bombers.
Damian Chukwu, Borno state police commissioner, confirmed the attacks.
In all, 16 persons including the suicide bombers died in the multiple explosions while 13 persons were injured.
There have been other attacks, a few without casualties, in Maiduguri since the swap.
Shekau has also released a video where he boasted that the police officers he “captured” had become his slaves. Security forces need to go back to the drawing board. The current administration which is struggling on many fronts has listed security as one of its gains, but the resurgence of attacks in the north-east is puncturing that. The government needs to act fast, lest, we return to the horrorful days of the past. God forbid!