Several Nigerian news establishments have reported that the missing Emir of Gwoza has escaped from the Boko Haram and is now free in Adamawa State.
Below is a report by Premium Times, the best investigative media outfit in Nigeria, and after that report Is a short analysis of this report.
BREAKING: Heavy rainfall helps trapped Emir of Gwoza, others to escape from Boko Haram
Heavy rainfall late Monday night helped hundreds of residents of Gwoza, Borno State,who had been trapped on the mountains to escape to a safe haven, PREMIUM TIMES has
Two of the escapees included the Emir of Gwoza, Muhammed Timta, and a district head
in the town, Hakimi Ibrahim.
The residents have been trapped on the mountain since Wednesday when Boko Haram insurgents ran over the town, killing scores of people and burning virtually every building including the police station, the local government secretariat, and the emir’s palace.
Hundreds of those that escaped managed to climb the rocky mountain that borders Cameroon and Adamawa, with many killed by the insurgents while trying to climb the mountain.
The Boko Haram have since taken over Gwoza, and foiled at least two attempts by Nigerian soldiers to retake the town. They also surrounded the foot of the mountain to prevent those trapped from escaping.
The trapped residents, however, took advantage of the heavy rainfall on Monday night, which had made their attackers scamper to covered areas. The residents escaped from the mountains to nearby Madagali Local Government in Adamawa State.
A family member of one of the escapees, Hajia Amina, told PREMIUM TIMES that the residents including the Gwoza emir were as at Tuesday morning being moved to a refugee camp in Uba, a border community between Adamawa and Borno.
The immediate past Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Borno (the state executive council was dissolved last week), Asabe Vilita, also confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES.
The immediate past Emir of Gwoza, Mr. Timta’s father, was in May killed by the Boko Haram who have caused the death of over 13,000 people in northern Nigeria since their insurgency began in 2009.
Now my analysis
1. This confirms that the Cameroonian side of the Mandara Mountains is controlled by the insurgents. Anyone who is familiar with the Michika and Madagali (both are in Adamawa State), Gwoza and Bama axis (Borno State) knows that the people of this area tend to cross the mountains into Cameroon whenever there is a need for it (crisis, invasion etc) from this side unless they are prevented from entering the other side. As a matter of fact the leader of the Higgi tribe which spans both side of the border was known to have crossed the mountains to escape the Germans and British during the colonial era whenever he got too much on their separate nerves until the two colonial powers reached an agreement to repatriate him if he misbehaves and crosses to escape.
So for the Emir and his fellow escapees to remain trapped in the mountains confirmed that the insurgents are now in control of both sides of the border despite what the governments of both countries may say…
2. This also confirms that most of the insurgents involved in this campaign are not locals and are not familiar with the terrain. The locals were trapped in the mountain but safe. The only danger they were in was a gradual depletion of whatever food supplies they managed to salvage. Caves mostly dot the mountains, so there would have been enough caves for the locals to enter and hide which only they know about.
The leader of the Higgi tribe also used the caves to hide from the Germans during the colonial conquest of the Adamawa area. I have it on good authority that when the Germans sent trained mountain trackers (most likely made up of Bavarians in the German Alps) to find him, they couldn’t as he was carried by seven of his sons from one secret cave to another, while using the sonal amplification(echos) mountains provide to carry on negotiations with the Germans.
Thus while undoubtedly the insurgents may have sent recon and search parties to find these escapees, they were unsuccessful because of their lack of local terrain knowledge, a knowledge which the locals used to their advantage to evade the insurgents and escape from the mountain stranglehold they were trapped in as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
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