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The displaced residents of Baga, a borough in the state of Borno, recently taken over by the insurgents of Boko Haram, said the Nigerian government was lying claiming that the city had been reclaimed by government forces.
Several civilian sources report that all IDPs from Baga, the insurgents, are not only flagging in the commercial border town, but also controlling the movement of civilians outside the city.
But the military has called the report a further propaganda of the Boko Haram. She insisted that her troops are currently responsible for Baga.
PREMIUM TIMES published a statement by Nigerian army spokesman Sani Usman on January 11, according to which government troops had retaken Baga. He said the troops had given the terrorists a bloody nose during a fierce fight to liberate the city. Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, said two soldiers died when soldiers killed several members of Boko Haram.
But weeks after the liberation of Baga was celebrated by the military, residents returning from the community said the insurgents had not moved a centimeter since taking over the city.
Most of them said the insurgents not only had control over the city, but also allowed civilians to return and pick up their belongings without harming them. The sources who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said the insurgents had stationed their men at various outlets in the city, where they examined anyone who came in or was certain that they were not spies or ally of government forces.
"Not so long ago some of our people returned from Baga after buying some of their personal belongings, and all were allowed to enter after the search of the Boko Haram," said the displaced vegetable maker Baba Inuwa.
"Baga is still responsible for the Boko Haram. and they would give us permission to enter the city, pick up our luggage, and then drive to Monguno or Maiduguri. "
Mr. Inuwa said that the soldiers stationed in their brigade camp at a place called Mile-4 did not go to Baga City as claimed. He also said returnee IDPs used footpaths across the desert to get to Baga, where they were armed by Boko Haram.
Another resident, Abba Mustapha, said it was not true that Baga was being reclaimed by Nigerian soldiers.
"The place that was attacked on this fateful Wednesday in Baga was a place called Mile-4, home to the military brigade. It was overrun by the insurgents and many soldiers fled. When the soldiers mobilized for a counter-offensive a few days later, they were only able to reclaim the brigade, but Baga is still in the hands of Boko Haram, as it is today. "
Modu Muhammed, a trader, recalled that the attack on Baga started around 5:00 pm on Wednesday in January when they heard gunfire. He said such shootings had become a common occurrence for them, as the soldiers regularly fired heavy equipment at night.
"So we did not take it seriously when we heard the shootings when we suddenly saw soldiers. When we tried to figure out what went wrong, some told us that Boko Haram had taken over the brigade.
"So we closed our shops and houses and ran to the edge of the city to survive the night. We thought things were going to go down so we could go home.
On Thursday morning, we saw more people on the outskirts, including the soldiers who ran when the Boko Haram gunmen entered the city. So the soldiers who guard the parapet on the outskirts of the city have given up their posts and gone with us on the run.
"We left Baga at about 11:00 am and spent the night on the run, reaching Monguno 75 km away at around 12:00. From Monguno we finally took a vehicle to Maiduguri. A few days later we learned in the news that Baga was recaptured by the Boko Haram.
"But even before we started to flee, the Boko Haram gunmen kept saying that they were not there to harm us, but to fight the soldiers and anyone they suspect to be an agent of the government or the soldier is. Therefore, they said that anyone who is willing to stay can stay, and if we do not want to stay, we said we could pick our things and leave the city.
"Most of us have decided to go because we had some unpleasant experiences with them about four years ago when they attacked Baga. Nobody will stay where there is no government representation.
"And until today Boko Haram is still in Baga. Some of us heard from those who had fled late from the city that the Boko Haram were not attacking the civilians as they had promised. That's why we decided to go back to get our stuff. We were allowed to go in and get some of our belongings after thoroughly searching and searching us. They behaved as if they were the government, while the soldiers at Mile4 are still out there. "
He said that once the insurgents were convinced that a person was not a threat, they instructed one of them to take them to the house and monitor what they were doing or getting them from the house, and then escorting them to the outskirts of the city where lorries are waiting By Monguno waiting to pick up passengers alternately.
Mr. Muhammed said that a young man who had some of his belongings was not so happy with the Boko Haram because he found a Civilian JTF ID.
"When they searched him and found the ID card of Civilian-JTF with him, they said he was one of their enemies, so they dragged him away," Muhammed said.
When asked if the military in Baga was aware of the movement inside and outside the city, the resident said he was using another dirt road that connects the city to the Monguno-Cross-Kauwa highway.
"The soldiers are in their brigade base in Mile-4 on the way to Baga from Kauwa, and we use the northeastern route, a footpath on the right before Kauwa. it leads directly to Baga, "said Muhammed.
A young woman and mother of two told PREMIUM TIMES that she spent three days en route to Monguno.
"It took us three days to get to Monguno when we fled Baga after the insurgents came in and started to burn some houses belonging to politicians," said the woman who gave her name as Yagana.
"The armed men told us that they would not harm us, that we should stay and do our normal business. But no one can trust them, especially when we saw soldiers fleeing civilians next to us.
"One of my brothers, who went to Baga with other people, helped bring along some of my personal belongings. He said he had not been touched by the Boko Haram; They were just looking for him. When they saw his electoral card, they told him, "You can go out there and vote for your sinful politicians, but not here in Baga."
Onyema Nwachukwu, deputy director of the army's public relations department, responded to requests from PREMIUM TIMES that the Baga displaced people's allegations were not only false, but that the Boko Haram's propaganda was aimed at gaining public sympathy.
Mr. Nwachukwu, a colonel of the army, insisted that Baga be completely controlled by the Nigerian forces.
"Baga is firmly under the control of the LAFIYA DOLE forces, who overpowered the insurgents in a fierce battle as the insurgents denied control of the city," said Nwachukwu, the spokesman for the theater command Lafiya Dole.
"At present, there are ongoing eviction operations in the villages around Baga, where troops carry out offensives against the insurgents. Civilians were asked to leave the country to prevent avoidable collateral damage.
"Boko Haram does not hold territory, but hibernates in the Tumbus. Therefore, the mere propaganda of BHT is the assumption that Baga is controlled by the insurgents. The public should reject such misinformation. "
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