Leadership (Abuja)

27 August 2014

Nigeria: Fleeing Nigerian Troops Return Home - DHQ

Photo: Premium Times
Nigerian soldiers.

Cameroonian authorities have repatriated about 480 Nigerian troops who had previously fled into the country after a fierce gun battle with Boko Haram insurgents. They arrived in the country through Mubi, Adamawa State.

A resident of the town (name withheld) told the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that the troops arrived in Mubi, some with guns and some without guns while others were with armoured personnel carriers (APC).

The agency reported that "the troops were fed in Mubi Barracks; some of them were still in military fatigue while others were on vest".

Cameroonian army spokesman on Monday told the BBC that 480 Nigerian troops fled to the country after a gun battle with the sect, but Defence Headquaters debunked the allegation saying the troops' action was a "tactical manoeuvre".

Meanwhile, the sect yesterday attempted to blow up a bridge linking Nigerian and Cameroon after overrunning a town and sending residents and soldiers fleeing, Cameroon police and locals said.

A Cameroon police officer stationed in the far north town of Fotokol, Cameroon, told AFP that the militants tried to destroy the bridge, which serves as the border crossing with Gamboru Ngala in Nigeria.

Boko Haram stormed Gamboru Ngala early on Monday and, by evening, had taken over the police station, a military barracks and a vocational training centre where they had based themselves.

... Fleeing soldiers start returning through Mubi

Sources say the returning soldiers looked unkempt and disheveled, wearing torn uniform as they went to the popular side of the Mubi market to buy second-hand clothes popularly called "Gwanjo" to replace their torn clothes.

Residents said the soldiers started returning to the town in the early hours of Tuesday, an action that sparked anxiety in the town as many thought they were members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.

However, the residents said they could not ascertain whether the returning soldiers were among the 500 soldiers that fled to Cameroun to escape the Boko Haram onslaught.

A resident, Joseph Baba, said: "We saw some of them purchasing second-hand clothes at the Mubi main market and were in torn uniforms.

"Initially, we were afraid when we sighted the troops as we thought they are Boko Haram elements. They arrived in the wee hours and people began to scamper for safety, because no one knew their mission. I even thought they were Boko Haram disguised in military uniform, as they used to do."

Another resident said some of the returning soldiers were seen wearing short knickers while others were injured.

About 500 Nigerian soldiers allegedly escaped to Cameroon Republic as the leader of the Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, said he has captured Gwoza town from soldiers, a position which the military authorities disputed, saying that the move was a tactical strategy by the soldiers.

The Defence Headquarters on Monday said the presence of Nigerian soldiers in Cameroonian territory is a tactical maneuver from the sustained battle it had with the Boko Haram insurgents.

In the meantime, residents of Madagali town said Boko Haram insurgents told them to defy the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government.

Acting Governor Umar Fintiri on Sunday announced the curfew after the terrorists invaded the town, which is close to the boundary with Borno town Gwoza seized by the insurgents.

Residents said the insurgents, who were moving freely in the town, brandishing their guns, asked them to continue with their normal businesses without fear of attack.

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