The recent attack by suspected Islamic extremists, Boko Haram on the students of Yobe State College of Agriculture, has raised anew the question whether the Nigeria government is competent enough to crush the militants.
The students of Yobe State College of Agriculture were attacked around 1 a.m. on Sunday in rural Gujba. The Provost of the college, Molima Idi Mato, confirmed the incident to The Associated Press.
“They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them,” he said.
Ahmed Gujunba, who lives by the college, a taxi driver told Reuters: “They came with guns around 1 a.m. (local time) and went directly to the male hostel and opened fire on them … The college is in the bush so the other students were running around helplessly as guns went off and some of them were shot down.”
A surviving student Idris, who gave only his first name to Reuters said, “They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible.”
Another surviving student, Ibrahim Mohammed, told the AP that it appears that the militants knew perfectly the layout of the school on how they went and attacked the four hostels meant for boys leaving untouched the one hostel reserved for female students. He also reported that the extremists came to their school camouflage in Nigerian military uniforms, in two double-cabin pickup all-terrain vehicles and on motorcycles.
The Provost of the college, Molima Idi Mato confirmed also that they torched the school classrooms. On how many were killed during the attack? College provost Molima Idi Mato, told the Associated Press, that the number of dead could be as high as 50. He however added that security forces were still searching around to recover the bodies. He confirmed that about 1,000 students had fled the campus. However, a military intelligence official, who asked to speak as an anonymous, because he does not have the authorization to speak to the press, confirmed that the Nigeria military force has recovered 42 bodies and then transported 18 students who were wounded to Damaturu Specialist Hospital, 40 kilometers (25) miles north.
Can Nigeria Government Fight the Militants?
Boko Haram, which was founded in 2002, launched fully its military operations in Nigeria in 2009. The meaning of its name from its Hausa origin was “Western education is forbidden.” It has purpose of creating an Islamic state across Nigeria and bringing to lowest minimum any Western influence on Nigeria.
The founding leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed in 2009, the year they began their operation, in police custody. He was succeeded by Abubakar Shekau under whom the militants grew to become a big monster.
To crush the terrorists, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan on May 14th declared a state of emergency in the north-east of Nigeria. Immediately after then, the crime rates fell with numbers of the militants leaving their base and the government announcing the arrests of some.
But the success was short-lived. In June, the sect returned for a counter attack. At least two attacks were recorded in June. One was at Damaturu while 13 students and teachers were murdered; the other was at the outskirts of Maiduguri where at least nine children got killed.
In July, a school’s dormitories was attacked in the village of Mamudo in Yobe state, killing at least 42 people, mostly students.
This entire thing makes one wonder whether or not President Goodluck can handle these militants as they still cause havoc even under his state of emergence.
By Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso