The Nigerian Army said yesterday that it has arrested suppliers of logistics such as petrol and drugs to members of the Boko Haram sect in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Brig-Gen Bulama Biu who disclosed this while reacting to the ban imposed on the supply of firewood and charcoal in the state noted that the Boko Haram logistics supply syndicates were arrested among loggers and charcoal dealers.
He hinted that intelligence report indicated that some dealers in Maiduguri were hiding under the guise of firewood trade to aid the insurgents.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Maiduguri, Biu said, "Some of them are errand boys of the Boko Haram insurgents. They hide food items, drugs, petrol and other items beneath their trucks, and supply them to the terrorists.
"We also found out that some of them are running businesses on behalf of the Boko Haram insurgents. They go deep into the forest where ordinary people cannot venture to cut down trees, burn and produce charcoal.
"This could not be possible except they are in agreement with the insurgents. We arrested some of them and they made quite revealing testimonies. We shall fish them out to put an end to their nefarious activities".
Biu explained that the ban was temporarily designed to checkmate activities of criminal elements among the dealers and not to make life difficult for firewood and charcoal users.
He stated that the military had allowed suppliers from other states such as Oyo, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna to supply their goods under strict supervision of the command.
He called on the people to support the military and other security agencies to end insurgency as well as protect lives and property.
On his part, the chairman, Borno chapter of Firewood Sellers Association of Nigeria, Malam Maidugu Ali, expressed dismay over the development.
Expressing the association's shock at the allegation by the military authorities, Ali said the union had engaged members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to support the military in the screening of its members before allowing them entry into Maiduguri.
He also stated that the union had adopted measures to screen vehicles conveying firewood or charcoal to Maiduguri to check suspicious activities among its members.
Ali disclosed that more than 60 members of the association were killed by the Boko Haram insurgents in the past 10 years.
He said, "Three years ago we also recorded an incident when the insurgents' hijacked one of our trucks and used it for suicide bomb attack. Both the driver and his boy were killed during the incident.
"We are also victims of insurgency; we are strict in the registration of new members. Any prospective person must produce two sureties before he is enrolled and engage in firewood trade".
Ali noted that the measure is to monitor its members and guard against any infiltration by the Boko Haram insurgents.
He reiterated the readiness of the association to support the military in the counter insurgency campaign and peace restoration process in the state.