The Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State, Operation Restore Order, Sunday revealed that members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram sect have resorted to kidnapping and ransom demand to finance their terror operations.
The revelation by JTF also came on a day it announced that it had recovered a snatched police bullet-proof patrol van from the sect, after it had attacked a police station and the Police Area Commander's office on Nguru road.
It was gathered that the sect also kidnapped the General Manager of Borno State Water Board (BOWB), Alhaji Baba Gujbawu, in Maiduguri.
But JTF in a statement by its spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, said security measures adopted by the task force Operation Restore Order had made it difficult for the sect and other criminals to conduct successful bank robbery operations in Borno State.
The task force said the sect resorted to this when it became apparent to them that they were losing most of their members involved in robbery since they were cut down by the security agencies.
Musa said: "Consequently, Intelligence available to the Task Force has indicated that Boko Haram Terrorists have resolved to concentrate more on kidnappings than robbery. They alleged that kidnapping is more lucrative, less dangerous and requires short time to plan and execute.
"Similarly, a special kidnapping squad has been earmarked and tasked by Boko Haram Sect to kidnap persons who could have wealthy relatives, Politician, Businessman/woman, Traditional Ruler, Senior Civil Servants and foreigners alike."
He, therefore, alerted members of the public to be vigilant about the trend, urging them to be wary and continue to be security conscious at all times.
He said: "The public are advised to avoid or be very sensitive to strangers and friends that have not been in contact for long. Additionally, members of the public are also warned to avoid isolated areas and shun meetings or friends found through telephones or social media.
"The JTF once again appreciate the cooperation and understanding between members of the public and security agencies and to reemphasise that security is a collective responsibility. Thus, the public are reminded to give credible information to the JTF through their hotlines which are operational at all time."
In a related development, the JTF, while explaining how the snatched police bullet proof patrol van was recovered from the sect in Yobe State, stated that the snatched van was recovered from the suspected members of the sect in Gashua, a border town with Niger Republic by the JTF.
THISDAY learnt that apart from the police bullet-proof patrol vehicle, arms and ammunition were equally recovered from the fleeing Boko Haram sect.
A source at the JTF headquarters in Damaturu revealed that the bullet-proof vehicle was recovered at Maluria village in Gashua Local Government Area of the state, along with other arms and ammunition used in attacking the police station and the police area commander's office on Nguru Road.
In a statement by the spokesman of the JTF in Damaturu, Lt. Eli Lazarus, stated that the recovered vehicle, arms and ammunition were used in the attacks on the police station, bank and office of the police area commander, where about N9 million cash was carted away by the gunmen, who were dressed in police and army uniforms.
The statement reads in part: "Other arms and ammunition recovered include; a general purpose machine Gun (GPMG), three K2 rifle, three pumps action rifle and a riot gun, two smoke pistols, four Dane guns, two RPG bombs, 15 hand grenades and one air rifle. 1,200 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, three cartridges, several police uniforms and accessories, 10 bullet proof metal plates and gas masks were also recovered."
Meanwhile, an eyewitness said Gujbawu, was ambushed by a four-gang abductors at gunpoint, while preparing to hold a meeting at the Water House, Maiduguri on Shehu Laminu Way, at about 9 a.m. on Saturday.
He said: "We were sitting here under this shade when four gunmen in an unmarked vehicle parked at the gate, before they forcefully bundled him into the vehicle; and zoomed off to unknown destination of the metropolis at 7.35 a.m.
"People started running for safety, as soldiers rushed to the scene to cordon the area and prevent further attacks and killings in this area."
The abduction of Gujbawu brings to six cases of major kidnappings in recent time in Maiduguri.
Confirming the incident in Maiduguri, a senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Gujbawu was on Saturday abducted at gunpoint.
He lamented that no arrest has been made by either the JTF or police as they were still on the trail for the suspected gunmen.