Residents of Bama town in Borno state, which has faced some of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram’s most deadly attacks this year, say peace has fully returned to their community, and that they owe that to the military.
Dozens of people died in repeated attacks on the town about 65km from the state capital Maiduguri-the latest attack occurred in August-forcing several residents to flee to neighbouring communities.
A cross section of the inhabitants who spoke on Sunday in Bama, said that normalcy had now returned to the town, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reported.
They commended the military for ensuring the security of lives and property.
Zanna Lawal, the village head of Abuja ward, Bama, said the military has demonstrated its commitment towards the protection of lives and property by launching various offensives on the enclaves of suspected Boko Haram militants.
“I wish to commend the troops of the 202 Tank Battalion, Bama, for their numerous efforts in restoring peace in Bama,” he said.
“The battalion has indeed brought happiness to the residents of the town; individuals who had fled the town at the peak of Boko Haram attacks, have returned home.”
Mr Lawal said businesses that shut down in the wake of the insurgency, have restarted as normalcy had returned.
“You can see that businesses are beginning to pick up as individuals who fled, are returning on daily basis,” he said.
Mr Lawal commended the Federal Government for extending the State of Emergency in the state.
“We are not against the presence of the soldiers here because they are instrumental to the return of peace.
“Government should deploy more troops to beef-up security in the town,” he pleaded.
Baa Modu, a resident of the town, confirmed Mr Lawal’s views, and added that residents were collaborating with the military to ensure peace and security in the area.
“All of us here are members of the vigilante group; we are all collaborating with the soldiers to ensure peace.
“We believe that we must take our destiny in our own hands to ensure peace.
“Nobody is left out in the current efforts to maintain peace; the young, the old, and even small children are not left out,” Mr Modu said.
Yakaka Bintu, a business woman, appealed to government to assist residents who lost their sources of livelihood as a result of the attacks.
“I have four children who had been rendered jobless because their shops were destroyed during one of the attacks.
“Government should come to the aid of such persons to enable them bounce back,” Mrs Bintu pleaded.
Commenting, Lt.-Col. Mohammed Dole, the spokesman of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, said the army had lived up to its responsibility of safeguarding lives and property in the town.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the military had restored peace in Bama town.
“This was achieved through numerous cordon and search operations, conducted at the suspected hideouts of the insurgents in nearby villages, and even in the Sambisa forest,” Lt-Col. Dole said.
He also commended the residents and the local vigilante group, also known as the civilian JTF, for supplying credible information to the military on suspected Boko Haram hide-outs.