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Thousands of Nigerian youths flee to Cameroon as Boko Haram militants force them to fight agaisnt Nigerian military

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Thousands of Nigerian youths flee to Cameroon as Boko Haram militants force them to fight agaisnt Nigerian military


Following sustained Boko Haram attacks in the North-Eastern part of
the country, thousands of Nigerians have been forced to flee their
homes, swamping towns in the north of neighbouring Cameroon, authorities
said yesterday
.

 This came as Boko Haram terrorists, for three days, laid siege to
Gamboru town, forcefully conscripting youths to fight both the Nigerian
and Cameroonian troops. They were said to have killed those who resisted
them.

After the three-day attack, 29 persons were killed, while 215 of the
youths, who fled to Cameroon to escape the forceful conscription, have
recounted their ordeals in the hands of the insurgents.

A Cameroonian police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity that:
“We’ve been flooded here in Mora by Cameroonians and Nigerians fleeing
Boko Haram. The day before yesterday (Friday), there were already more
than 10,000 people in Mora. Not a day goes by without more people
coming.”

The number of internally displaced people in Nigeria and those who have
crossed its borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad because of the
militant violence has been increasing, with no end in sight to the
insurgency.

The United Nations’ humanitarian office (OCHA) said on August 5 that
Boko Haram attacks have forced nearly 650,000 people from their homes in
the North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has said that nearly
11,500 fled Gwoza, also in Borno State, when militants seized the town
on August 7. Boko Haram has since declared Gwoza part of an Islamic
caliphate.

Cameroon registers displaced persons
The Cameroonian police officer said registration of the displaced
persons had begun in Mora, while the nearby town of Kolofata had seen
more than 6,000 arrive.

“People are everywhere: in schools, under trees and in the markets,” he added.
“They’re all coming from Cameroonian and Nigerian villages in the Kerawa area.”

Kerawa straddles the border and has come under attack in recent days by Boko Haram, forcing the residents to flee on foot.

Cameroon state radio said the withdrawal of its soldiers had led to a
mass exodus of civilians, adding that more than 6,000 people had taken
flight and were now based in the Kolofata state school, with 2,000
others around Mora.

Gamboru Ngala residents, who fled across the border to the Cameroon town
of Fotokol, said on Saturday that the militants had begun to kill
people “like chickens,” despite initially targeting only the police and
military.

The spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri also claimed
militant fighters had carried out atrocities against Christians in the
town of Madagali, in Adamawa State, but there was no independent
corroboration.

Cameroon security sources said Gamboru Ngala was bombed from the air on
Saturday night, but it was unclear whether it was a Nigerian or
Cameroonian air force operation.

The terrorists operating on several motorcycles stormed Gamboru and
moved from house to house, searching for youths who refused to flee
after last Monday’s attack that claimed 25 lives.

Gamboru is a border town, and 138 kilometres North East of Maiduguri, the state capital.

Just last Thursday, a group of terrorists invaded Jibwhuwhi and Dalwa
villages in Hawul Local Government Area of the state killing 14
residents before setting ablaze their houses, shops and churches, as
there were no military troops despite outcry by the residents of Hawul
on the continuous attacks and killings in the council.
Youths resist conscription

Over 200 Gambouru youths have, however, resisted forceful conscriptions
by Boko Haram as they fled to the Cameroonian border town of Fotokol and
three other villages yesterday morning.

The youths, according to one of them who remained anonymous, fled
because they did not want to be conscripted by the Boko Haram sect to
fight both the Nigerian and Cameroonian troops in the border areas and
in Gambouru town.

According to one of the youths: “I had no alternative, other than to
join my colleagues by dawn yesterday to flee for our safety. These
gunmen had been telling us to join them to fight our soldiers here and
at the borders with Cameroon and Chad; after promising us some money and
rifles ‘to do the work of God’. But some of us decided to take our fate
in our hands by fleeing to Cameroon. By noon yesterday (Sunday), about
215 of us converged on Fotokol with broken limbs and bruises, while
fleeing to cross the River and bushes with desert tracks. Once they
sighted you fleeing, they shoot you, as we have refused to join them,”
lamented the youth.

He said the targets of the insurgents
were to “forcefully conscript” youths between the ages of 18 and 25 who
are conversant with Gamboru and its border areas with Cameroon.

“They were asking all of us here in Cameroon to join them; and fight the
soldiers, but we collectively decided not to, because these gunmen can
never be trusted. It has happened not only in Gambouru, but most of the
Borno towns and villages were attacked with the displacement of many
residents and villagers,” said the youth in telephone interview from
Fotokol.

He said as they reached the border town of Fotokol, the Nigerian Air
Force (NAF) fighter jet hovered over Gamboru town three times, but due
to the mixture of innocent civilians and the terrorists in the town, and
to avoid killing of innocent people, the fighter jet had to bombard an
outskirt with plumes of smoke into the sky for ten minutes.

“We had feared that the town was bombarded, by the military to reclaim
our town, but one of my parents called me on phone that they were safe;
and there was no bombing from the fighter jet that flew in Sunday
(yesterday) morning,” said the youth.

A military source, who spoke on reports that the terrorists raided
communities around Gamboru, conscripting youths into their sect, said
that it had been their strategy. He, however, noted that strategies
that cannot be disclosed were being worked out to handle the situation.

Aerial surveillance in northern Borno
Military sources in Maiduguri, yesterday, also said that the aerial
surveillance in northern Borno was part of the military operations to
reclaim the border town with Cameroon. The military source was, however,
unable to give details of the ongoing military operations launched,
yesterday.

A resident who prefrred to be and annonymous, who hid in a ceiling for
three days, also said the terrorists had been forcing the residents to
join the Islamist sect’s fight, while those who refused to join were
shot dead or had their throats slit in the presence of members of their
families.

According to him: “Our people have no option other than to submit to
God’s destiny and mercies. Since last Monday’s attacks, we had been
hiding in ceilings of buildings and underground water reservoirs without
food and water. But the insurgents were adamant and ruthless
threatening us to either be conscripted and fight against the troops in
Gamboru or be killed”, said the resident in a telephone interview
yesterday.

On how residents were forcefully conscripted, he said: “Since last
Monday’s attacks, these sect boys have been going from house to house in
search of residents in hiding. Once they caught one resident, they
would hand N5,000 cash and an AK 47 rifle and ask him to join them to
fight the soldiers in Gamboru or risk his life”

He said: “Residents, who refused to join the insurgents, were summarily
executed using gun or knives and swords”. He added that with the
massive killings and threats, several youths had joined the insurgents
in the last five days, after they captured the border town with Cameroon
on Monday, August 25, 2014.

Supplies of food and water, he said had been cut off, as the insurgents
had already destroyed the Dikwa-Gambouru/Ngala Bridge last June, while
the 102-kilometre Mafa-Dikwa-Gambouru road was a no-go area as the
insurgents have taken over the border route to Cameroon.

Confirming the continuous presence of insurgents, a security source in
Maiduguri yesterday said that after killing 27 terror suspects in last
Monday’s attack, those that survived retreated into the town to join
those who were hiding among residents.

“This was why, it could take some time to reclaim this town, as the
insurgents had been adopting guerrilla warfare by living among residents
to prevent being hit by the military,” said the source, yesterday.
Meanwhile, there were indications in Abuja weekend that the latest of
the set of fighter aircraft ordered by the Federal Government with which
the armed forces will launch a final onslaught against the Boko Haram
terrorists would start arriving the country this week.

This information came just as it was gathered that security forces were
set to launch a counter offensive against Boko Haram insurgents who have
established a new camp at Gamboru-Ngala, a border community with
Cameroon with a view to sending them back across the border where they
were initially based.
It was gathered that the sect members fled to the Nigerian side of
Gamboru-Ngala, a community that extends to Cameroon following the air
bombardment of their camp by the Cameroonian air force.

On the fighter jets, military sources disclosed that the aircraft which
are capable of carrying out night operations will enhance the operations
of the soldiers after softening the ground by the bombers adding that
they were purchased directly by the Nigerian Air force.

Another set of aircraft which are also fitted with modern equipment such
as the Shilka guns for the army would also arrive very soon to
fast-track the Boko Haram war.

Confirming that enemies within the security forces were helping the
terrorists in the insurgency battle, the source said some disloyal
troops pass on strategic information on operations to the insurgents.

For instance, It was learnt that when an operation for bombing is being
prepared, some insiders pass on the information to the terrorist that
their area will soon be bombed and that it will be safer for them to
leave the area. That is why the bombing by the air force is not having
much impact on them except on few occasions when the operation is
planned secretly.

The source added that the analysis so far made on the weapons recovered
from the insurgents does not show that they are superior to those of the
armed forces as claimed.

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