Terrified residents in Kautikari village in Chibok have had enough of the persistent and deadly attacks by insurgents and are fleeing their homes for safety, vowing that they will not return until troops are stationed in the village.
They say insurgents are on the warpath and they are simply too scared to stay because they never know when the next attack will occur. They say their lives are at stake and they cannot bear the fear and anxiety they feel.
“The insurgents are on the rampage,” a resident told RNI.
Even the district heads have told residents to leave because of the frequency and brutality of the attacks.
The most recent attack was on May 3. Insurgents stormed Kautikari, a village in the Chibok Local Government Area in southern Borno State. Nine people were killed. A church, houses and properties were torched.
Habu Musa, a resident, told RNI reporter Aisha Jamal that since the last attack on May 3, locals were feeling very jittery and most agreed that fleeing the village was their only option.
“On that day [May 3], the insurgents stormed Kautikari, shooting at residents who were running for cover and safety. Troops had earlier dug a large pit surrounding the whole village. As the residents were running for safety, the pit prevented them from getting to the forest. They were blocked and that is how the insurgents managed to follow and shoot people, killing nine.”
Musa said there was not a single soldier in the village at the time of the attack. Troops arrived only after the insurgents had left.
“Many people ran away but we have not had any news about them. We don’t know if they are missing or if they went somewhere else for safety. Since the attack, we have heard loud sounds close to us. We don’t know if they are gunshots but we think so. Still, there are no troops here to guard us. Day and night we are terrified of being attacked. We know they will attack us again, that is for certain, but we don’t know when,” he said.
“Every day, residents leave the village at about 3pm and return at about 7pm. Most attacks occur between 5pm and 6pm. So, if the insurgents have not appeared by 7pm, they return to their homes, hoping and praying that the attackers won’t come during the night.
“We have no peace of mind and there are no troops with us to protect us. As a result, the district heads of the village have commanded residents to relocate to safer places because whenever the insurgents come they destroy houses and other property and kill or abduct people. The district heads say the attacks are becoming more frequent – there have been more than six attacks this year. Troops have still not been stationed here and the vigilantes are not strong enough to deal with the insurgents. We have no option, we just have to pack our belongings and leave the community because the attacks are too much.”
Musa said that he had heard that most of the residents had gone to Chibok, Askira-Uba, Mbalala, Gombe, Mubi, as well as and other places.
‘’The village is becoming an empty shell. Everyone is busy packing and leaving. They are taking food, goods and all their important belongings to nearby villages.
“We will come back to our community once the authorities have assigned troops to Kautikari. They dug the pit. If they do not station soldiers in the village to provide protection, then when insurgents attack again they will again be after us and the huge pit will prevent us from escaping. So, only once there are troops stationed in the village will we return to our homes.”
AISHA SD JAMAL