THE attack on a military checkpoint on the Niger-Abuja borders three days ago has further accentuated the threat terrorists pose to the Nigerian state and people.
The terrorists had attacked the military checkpoint on Thursday, July 28, 2022 night in Zuma Rock Village, located at the border of Niger State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The attack came barely six days after terrorists ambushed a patrol team of the Presidential Guards along the Bwari-Kubwa Road, resulting in the death of at least eight soldiers.
The team had mobilised following an intelligence report that the terrorists were planning to attack the Nigerian Law School in Bwari, only to fall prey to the marauders.
A series of attacks have heightened tension in the FCT, with schools shutting down hurriedly. An instance is the Federal Government College, Kwali, whose management asked parents to evacuate their children from the school over a reported case of bandits’ attack on a neighbouring community.
The ICIR also recently reported that the management of Veritas University, Bwari, FCT, also shut down academic activities over security threats.
Zuma Rock Village, named after the popular Zuma Rock, is located near Madalla town along the ever-busy Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
Although the expressway itself has become notorious for banditry and kidnapping, the attack on the military checkpoint was the first of its kind in the community.
According to a source in the community, the insurgents arrived at 7.30pm and opened fire on the troops, leaving an officer reportedly dead, while some were wounded. The terrorists, who were understood to be heading to Abuja from Kaduna, were repelled by troops and equipment from the Army Base in Zuma Barracks and other security forces that were deployed to the scene.
Residents who spoke with the ICIR said they were shocked to hear sudden gunshots from the military checkpoint a few metres away from them and started scampering in different directions for safety.
Danjuma Musa, a 47-year-old civil servant who lives in the small town with his family, said, “In fact, we did not know where we were going. It was serious gunfire which threw the whole village into fear. Till now, we are still living in fear.”
Narrating the trauma the attack has caused the residents, Musa described the experience as “nightmarish”.
He said, “It is difficult to sleep in this town because we don’t know when next they will come to abduct or kill us.”
He, however, confirmed that the community did not record any death.
Sani Shehu, a 46-year-old farmer, had no doubt that the attack was carried out by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group because “they were shouting allah akbar”, to the hearing of some residents.
No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though.
Shehu praised the security operatives who repelled the terrorists for their gallantry, despite the fact, he asserted, that the terrorists had superior weapons. He believed the Nigerian military has the capacity to eliminate terrorism given what he saw.
But he pleaded with the government, “Our soldiers need more than AK 47 guns because these Boko Haram terrorists operate with more sophisticated weapons.”
Mohammed Abdullahi, another resident of the village, told our reporter that he was at work in the Abuja metropolis on Tuesday when his family members called on phone to inform him of their whereabouts.
“My family went into hiding in the bush and only came back at midnight after the gunshots stopped and the situation calmed down. My sister, who is staying with me, is now sick because of the panic after hearing the gunshots,” Abdullahi said.
He added that before the attack, the community had only been hearing of terrorists’ strikes on radio.
When the ICIR enquired from him what measures the community was taking to prevent further attacks, he replied, “We are pleading with the government to protect us because we don’t have power in this kind of issue. But we will be vigilant and provide vital information to the security agencies.”
Some residents who spoke off the record were worried that despite the magnitude of the security threats in the community, there was only little security presence. They called on the Federal government to build a strong, well-armed military presence in the zone to forestall any future attack.
They condemned the approach of the Boko Haram insurgents in settling their disagreements with the government, saying the terrorists, instead of using innocent citizens as scapegoats, should direct their grievances to the appropriate authorities.
The terrorists had invaded the Kuje Prison in Abuja with bombs and guns on July 5, 2022, killing a Civil Defence officer and freeing over 800 inmates that included 66 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist commanders and members.
The terrorists also recently threatened to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai.