“I confirm that we have Boko Haram elements in the Nigerian state around Kaure. They have taken over the territory … They installed their flag,” Nigerian state governor Abubakar Bello said in a widespread video on Monday.
Bello announced during a visit to an Intern Displaced Persons camp in the state capital, Minna, that over 3,000 people had been evicted from their communities by Boko Haram and other criminal gangs known locally as bandits.
“Their cities have been taken over by bandits and Boko Haram elements … their wives have been confiscated and forcibly tied to Boko Haram members,” said the governor.
Bello warned that the infiltration of Boko Haram in Kaure, a rural community in the Shiroro region of the Nigerian state, posed a major security threat to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, which borders Niger in the east.
“The Boko Haram elements are trying to use this area as their home like in Sambisa. Sambisa is hundreds of kilometers from Abuja. But Kaure is less than a two-hour drive from Abuja. So no one is safe anymore … Not even Abuja is safe, “warned Governor Bello.
Abuja had previously been hit by terrorist attacks. In 2011, multiple explosions rocked the city, killing dozens. A United Nations building was also affected, in which at least 18 people died. Sambisa, a vast forest reserve in Borno state in northeastern Nigeria, served as the hideout and stronghold of Boko Haram activists, whose deadly activities have caused the deaths of more than 37,000 people and displaced over two million people since 2011, according to the US government for external relations. Bello’s comment comes days after local media reported that the jihadist sect raised its flag in Geidam, a riot-stricken community in Yobe state.
A Nigerian army spokesman told CNN Tuesday that Boko Haram terrorists had been evicted from Geidam.
“There is no Boko Haram in Geidam. They were there … we had an ongoing fight with them and they are no longer there. They never hoisted their flag,” said Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima.
Yerima told CNN he was unaware of Boko Haram’s incursion into the state of Niger.
“I only hear that from you,” he said, adding, “it was not reported to us.”
However, Yerima stated that no Nigerian territory is controlled by terrorists.
A police spokesman in Niger, Wasiu Abiodun, told CNN that the force could not deny Governor Bello’s claim about the influx of Boko Haram fighters into the state.
“The executive governor is the state’s chief security officer … Do you expect the police to argue or object to the executive governor’s statement?” Asked Abiodun.