Boko Haram: Journeying through terrorists’ enclave on Gombe-Biu road
- The experience of journeying from Gombe to Borno state is always tortuous as the roads remain rough and bumpy
- Due to the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist on the roads, the trip through the roads is full of tension and fear
- Borno state is a major terrorist-ridden state in the northeast part of Nigeria where Boko Haram has operated for over a decade
The journey from Gombe to Borno State can be quite tortuous, not only because the roads are rough and bumpy, it is because of the fear and tension associated with such a trip.
Borno, a state in northeast Nigeria has been under Boko Haram attacks for more than 15 years. In the heat of the insurgency, most parts of the state, including Maiduguri, the state capital were taken over by the dare-devil terrorists who were involved in attacks, planting of Improvised Explosive Devices, IED, and indiscriminate shootings. To date, some girls abducted from government secondary schools in Chibok are still in captivity. Also Lia Sharibu, a Christian schoolgirl who refused to denounce her Christian faith has children for the insurgents.
Journeying through Boko Haram paths
It's natural that one's adrenaline would rise in a journey through the enclaves of the deadly insurgents who have left many dead and some in captivity. The journey was to test the safety of various Borno roads and to further confirm the claims by the military and the government that the Boko Haram insurgents have been decimated.
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The journey which began from Gombe through Biu was the most dangerous anyone could take knowing that the deadly insurgents are still so much around.
Taking off from Gombe to Biu was like someone embarking on a mission. The roads, characteristically bumpy were very terrible, hence drivers march their breaks intermittently to dodge potholes and other bad spots. Most of the police and military checkpoints along the axis have been dismantled and only a few could be seen, aggravating one's fear of a possible attack.
Fewer vehicles create fear
Vehicles going through Gombe-Biu road are relatively few, creating the fear that all is not well but the driver kept his cool, jamming his music and occasionally throwing the pieces of bitter kola kept on the dashboard into his mouth to wade off sleep. "This road is one of the safest in the country," he said after noticing that our correspondent's heart was literally in his mouth.
The farther he drove, the fewer the vehicles on the road. Only towns and villages passed through occasionally relieved everyone and reduced the tension, our correspondent reports.
Desert of fear
At some point, it was like a desert, For over 50 kilometers, there was no single house. Herdsmen and their cows strolled to block the road. The fear at this point was unimaginable. But truly, these were very simple and harmless herdsmen. They often cleared the road of their cows for people to pass.
After this point, we drove into the plateau. One of those familiar with the road said when you are driving through the plateau, it means Biu is not far away. The ancient town sits on the plateau.
He said that was the reason only Biu could not be captured by the insurgents among all towns in Borno South. He said:
They tried on several occasions to attack Biu. You see that point over there, they tried to launch an attack, but whenever they tried to invade, they will be seen from a distance and the soldiers will repel them. The plateau is an added advantage. Biu has everything. I can say it's one of the best towns in Borno. As I said, the place is very safe and you don't have to worry about anything."
Stop and search
If we were just ordinary passengers traveling to Biu, we would have come down at the last checkpoint mounted by the military. It was such a serious stop and search point, just to say you are approaching the ancient town and must be searched. The soldier on duty explained:
"At this point, we try to search everyone. The reason is if there is going to be an attack, this is the only way they can pass. They can't come through the Plateau because they will be seen. In Biu here, this is the gateway to the town. You must be searched to cross over to the town."
Peace amid fear of Boko Haram
The weather, the calmness of the town, the warm reception, and the kindness shown to the team manifested love. But the question regularly asked is that despite the kindness and love displayed by residents of Biu, why are there insurgents in Borno when the majority of them are good people?
Reverend Amos, a pastor with the Redeemed Christain Church of God and a resident of Gwoza said there are bad elements everywhere. Speaking exclusively with Legit.ng, the Reverend said:
“There are bad people everywhere. Most of the bad guys you find in this part of the world are extremists. We all have them in our various families. I saw one in my in-law’s house. He was killing people mercilessly.”
But when Legit.ng inquired through sources on the various roads leading out of Biu, it was warned that though Biu road is relatively safe, other roads including that of Biu-Borno road remain deadly.
Legit.ng observed that despite the relative peace enjoyed by the Biu people, they remain apprehensive because as it stands, the solution to the issue of insurgency is not permanent. The people believe it is possible for the insurgents to attack soft targets.