Damboa Road In Maiduguri: Boko Haram Death Trap Exposed
July 13, 2014 – Damboa Road In Maiduguri: Boko Haram Death Trap Exposed
Dr Ali Yidani, a retired banker had looked forward to a good ride to his hometown located in the southern part of the northeast Borno State to see his family members.
He had planned to meet his relations and share the usual foodstuffs and cash gifts already kept in his car boot. But less than 30 minutes after he took off from Maiduguri, the state capital, along the Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu Road, his expectation to meet his family was cut short as he was ambushed and killed by Boko Haram insurgents. Rather than receiving his gifts of food items, all his relations got was his blood-soaked lifeless body. He was cut down in his twilight.
According to a family source, Yidani was killed near Bulabulin Nganaram village, same area where an aide to the Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, popularly called A Banje, was also assassinated by the terrorists.
Many motorists and other travelers have similarly been killed by the terror group along the road, Sunday Sun gathered.
Unlike Yidani and A Banje, Mr Ahmed Hassan, a Director of Evangelism for the Church of the Brethren Nigeria (EYN) was lucky as he narrowly escaped death. Hassan was on his way to Maiduguri from Biu after some official engagements when he was waylaid by Boko Haram. A source said his escape was miraculous, adding that the insurgents, however, set the Hilux van conveying the director from Biu ablaze.
Constructed as a trunk A federal road in the late 70s, the Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu Highway was meant to link states of the northeast and middle belt of the country but it has gradually turned a death trap, no thanks to the Boko Haram bloodletting.
“The fear of the road among travelers and motorists is the beginning of wisdom,” says Bala Aliyu, a Maiduguri-based public affair commentator. Sadly, it is the only major highway available to connect neighbouring Adamawa, Gombe and Taraba states as well as other parts of the country from Maiduguri, Borno State capital. Sunday Sun gathered that the road was initially proposed to lead to Calabar passing through Jalingo, Tapkun in Taraba State en-route to Ogoja in Cross River State.
Commercial vehicles operators said the road has been deadly in recent times.
“Some of us ply the road to Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe while some are very scared of the road. In most cases, passengers do insist they don’t want their drivers to take them through the road. For this reason, some often go through Yobe to Gombe but it’s very far and the road isn’t good,” an official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) who preferred anonymity told Sunday Sun even as he called on the government to secure the road from Boko Haram siege.
He said the Boko Haram had killed no fewer than 100 motorists and passengers on that road, while many trucks conveying goods and foodstuffs had either been seized or burnt by the insurgents.
“It is a regular thing. No day passes without attacks by Boko Haram. We’ve lost some of our drivers and passengers on the road,” another driver said.
Kareem Haruna, a journalist described the road as “an easy ride to death,” saying only the daring ones or those ready for suicide take the risk. “If you’re tired of the world and you want to die, try the road. It is an easy ride to death. It’s a booby, death trap,” he declared.
A security source told Sunday Sun that the military had deployed more troops to conduct patrol and surveillance on the road but added that the daring attack on a military base in Damboa by the terror group slowed down the exercise. “Our men have been on the road for a long time just like any other roads around Borno to make it safe for people but I think the recent attack on our base at Damboa affected our operation but we’re back again now,” a military officer who did not want his name in print disclosed.
In the past policemen from the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police were also seen on the road but at the time of filing this report, it is unclear if they are still patrolling the 88-kilometre highway.
Last Tuesday, a convoy of military troops and a team of policemen conveying the corpse of one of their slain colleagues to his hometown were compelled to make a U-turn when some armed men opened fire on them. Sources said though the military troops repelled the attack, the gunfire booming from the scene along the Maiduguri-Damboa Highway created widespread panic. Rumour went round Maiduguri that Boko Haram fighters were heading for the state capital. Residents of some settlements on the outskirts of the city also fled to the capital in fear.
A source also claimed some soldiers engaged the insurgents in a shootout on the road last Wednesday.
“The soldiers were ambushed near Kwamala Village after Dalwa. They were just a few kilometres to Bulabulin when they started hearing gunshots near the road,” the source said, adding that the soldiers were “quick to respond fire for fire.”
Attempts to get information from the police and the military on efforts of troops to secure the road did not yield fruitful result as the spokesman of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army Maiduguri, Col Mohammed Dole did not pick or return calls to his mobile phone.
However, some residents of Maiduguri who spoke with Sunday Sun said they would prefer to remain cut off from their neighbouring states until sanity returns to the Damboa Road.