Residents of Geidam now live in fear following the five-day occupation of their town by Boko Haram insurgents. The terrorists had attacked the town located in northern part of Yobe State four times this year alone.
Even though the general impression is that Boko Haram fighters loyal to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) rarely attack the civilian population as they always target security operatives and formations, some people in Geidam will not forget what happened to them recently.
Before the insurgents left Geidam on Tuesday, April 27, many lives were lost and property worth millions of destroyed. At least 11 people were killed by a mortar bomb that fell in two houses. It is still not certain who fired the lethal weapon.
Two teachers were shot dead by the terrorists at the Government Technical School, Geidam, and another teacher at a house in the town.
Also, two vigilante operatives, one of them reportedly with mental issues, were also killed by the invaders.
Houses belonging to notable civil servants or politicians in Geidam were also looted and then set ablaze by the attackers. Beddings, electronics, clothes and other personal effects were stolen from the houses.
Telecommunication network was also disconnected, making it difficult for residents to reach out for help before they started fleeing in droves.
The terrifying situation compelled thousands of residents to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring communities.
The five-day occupation would never be forgotten by some residents.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that the insurgents invaded the town in a convoy of more than 20 gun trucks through the eastern flank, defying military formation.
“They began sporadic shootings to alert us of their presence and scared people outside their homes,’’ an eyewitness said.
It was gathered that the insurgents first invaded the Fulatari area, where they establish their base.
It was also learnt that as a strategy to keep their plans and movement secret, they burnt telecommunication masts to cut off communication network in the town.
A day after they invaded the town, their number increased as they were sighted regrouping, before they started confronting troops.
An eyewitness who encountered them explained that they were mostly youths dressed shabbily in local attires while others wore military camouflage and turbans. He noted that they spoke majorly in Kanuri and Hausa languages.
A resident narrated that a team among them went around the town with vehicles to drop pamphlets and assemble youths to preach their doctrine to them. They encouraged the youths to join them voluntarily and distributed forms for them to fill.
They were not deterred by confrontation by the troops. It was learnt that during prayer times, the insurgents stopped shooting to pray.
Another source trapped for three days in the town observed that during the pre-dawn meal (Suhur) and evening meal (Iftar), the insurgents suspended fight; hence some people used that opportunity to escape.
Their major source of food was from shops they had vandalised. They were also said to have used some utensils found in the houses they occupied to prepare food.
“They insisted that they would not harm us, especially those of Muslim faith. They said their major target were soldiers, Christians and nongovernmental organisation workers. Their mission was to capture the town under their full control,” a resident who preferred to remain anonymous said.
Sources who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said that at a point they almost gave up when they saw a terrorist group openly challenging government forces.