Fighting between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram insurgents escalated in Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba in Adamawa State on Wednesday.
Casualty figures could not be obtained as of 8pm but the development forced the state government to impose 24-hour curfew on the affected communities.
Our correspondents gathered that Mubi, the second largest town in the state and host of two high institutions, was the worst hit.
A parent, Ahmad Sajoh, whose daughter is studying at the Adamawa State University, said that as of 2pm on Wednesday, the police barracks in the Government Reservation Area was overrun by the insurgents while the prison in the town was blown open.
He added that fighting which was ongoing at the army barracks caused confusion at the IDP camp in the Lamorde area of the town.
However, an online newspaper, SaharaReporters reported that Boko Haram insurgents took over the headquarters of the 234 battalion in the town.
Our correspondents gathered that the development made banks to move their cash to Yola, the state capital.
Sources told The PUNCH that insurgents launched an attack on Uba in the Michika-Madagali area of the state in response to sustained aerial bombardment of their hideouts by security forces.
Residents said they saw a large number of insurgents at Mararaba, a town about seven kilometres from Mubi.
Sajoh told one of our correspondents that his daughter called to inform him about the development in Mubi.
He said, “This morning, I got a call from my daughter who is a 200-level student. She was hysterical. I was in Abuja for a meeting, but her information forced me to head back to Yola immediately.
“I ordered her to leave the hostel and join her cousins to escape the town. I called my father who confirmed the story. By the time I arrived at Yola airport, the town had fallen to the insurgents.
“My parents are trapped while my daughter and her cousins are missing. We have lost contact for six hours.”
Sajoh, who is the director of Press and Public Affairs to the former Governor Murtala Nyako, added, “Mallam Iliyasu of the Bursary Department of the state university, who is trapped in the town said by 2pm, the Police Barracks in the GRA was overrun by the insurgents, the prison was blown open while fighting was going on at the army barracks. The IDP camp at Lamorde area was thrown into confusion.
“The new rulers of the town had issued a decree banning entry and exit to the town. Students who trooped to the motor park were stranded with most taking refuge in any house that could welcome them.
“The barracks are the least safe locations in the town. So far, there are no reported cases of killings or abductions. But fear and apprehension have taken over.”
Another source said that Mubi was currently deserted by residents after the incident, the second in three months.
The higher institutions in the town were forced to close down again.
There are fears of humanitarian crisis should the town fall into the hands of the insurgents.
A fleeing resident, Joshua Gajere, said several people might have been killed during the shootings that lasted for almost two hours in Uba and other villages.
He said, ‘‘We are in serious trouble as these boys (Boko Haram) have taken over our towns, splitting into groups and advancing towards Mararaba, Mubi and Vintim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh. They made the Nigerian troops to retreat to Mubi’’.
Gajere added, “As I am talking to you now, residents are scampering for safety.
‘‘Mubi has now become a ghost of itself as people in their hundreds are fleeing for their lives.
‘‘Even here in Maiha, we saw military vehicles zooming off towards Yola, the state capital.’’
However, a resident from Michika, Mr. Siva Zira, told one of our correspondents that the military was having an upper hand as they were able to dislodge the insurgents in Michika and Uba.
Meanwhile, Governor James Ngillari has asked the people of the state, particularly those in the affected areas to remain calm as security agents were on the top of the situation.
His Director of Press and Public Affairs, P.P. Elisha, said the governor met with security heads in the state to assess the situation.
He said, “It’s unfortunate with this development, His Excellency, has met with security chiefs in the state on Wednesday to assess the situation.
“People should remain calm, security agents are on the top of situation.’’
It was further gathered banks in Mubi have taken the pre-emptive steps to move out large volume of cash to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Yola.
Our correspondents could not get the Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, to comment on the hostilities as the calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.
The government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Weyle, who announced this, advised the people to stay away from the roads and other public places.
He said,“Following the escalation of violence by the insurgents, his Excellency the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala James Ngillari, has approved the imposition of 24 hours curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba, with immediate effect.
“People are advised to stay off the roads and public places except those on essential services.”
It was further gathered that the insurgents killed the son of a prominent traditional ruler in the area.
A resident, who identified himself as Kwahir Sani, said, “We fled to a village called Wuro Gude near Mubi when the violence erupted and I have lost contact with some of my children.
“As I am talking to you now, we are hearing gunshots by military in Mubi.”
It was gathered that the insurgents also attacked Askira Uba and Kukawa in Borno State for over six hours.
A fleeing resident said the terrorists killed many people, burnt many houses and carted away food stuffs.
Agence France Presse reported that the heavily armed terrorists, on arrival in Kukawa, opened fire on a police station and market, sending many fleeing.