Operatives of the Nigeria Police Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit in Borno have defused 67 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) buried by suspected Boko Haram insurgents at the military barracks in Bama.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Damian Chukwu disclosed this during an interaction with newsmen on Sunday.
He said the explosives discovered by soldiers were believed to have been buried by the insurgents shortly before the town of Bama was liberated by troops.
The commissioner said the discovery and subsequent detonation of the devices ensured that reconstruction work continued at the barracks.
Chukwu said various units of police were supporting ongoing efforts to restore civil authorities in liberated communities in the state.
“As the governor and his team were going to Bama to monitor reconstruction work, i put together various components of my operational units, the Police Mobile Force, the Counter-Terrorist unit, the Special Protection Unit, the EOD i.e. the bomb disposal unit, the intelligence group as well as the conventional police, to go with them.
“In the process of doing reconstruction work in the military barracks, the soldiers and other people there saw some buried IEDs about 67 of them and called the attention of my men.
“It is believed that the insurgents buried those bombs while they were there, especially when the military came back to displace them.
“So when those bombs were discovered, the attention of the police was drawn there and we had to deploy the EOD unit who brought out the bombs and destroyed them and then gave way for reconstruction work to continue.’’
Chukwu said the police in Borno has been very supportive in the current efforts aimed at stabilising the state following the recent successes recorded by the military.
He said the police personnel have been deployed in strategic locations in Maiduguri metropolis and in all the Local Government headquarters of the liberated areas.
The commissioner said the police was particularly involved in providing security in liberated communities to check the incidences of robberies, return of fleeing insurgents and other crimes in the areas.
He said: “There are quite a number of other local governments where we are presently deployed in. We are in Konduga Local Government, it is midway between Maiduguri and Bama.
“We also have Mungono, it is midway between Bama and Baga; In Baga, a town that shares boundary with Chad, military operation is still going on there but the town has been liberated except for the pockets of insurgents in the outskirts.
“We are making arrangements to move our men there ahead of the restoration of civil authorities in the area.
“In most of the local governments liberated by the military, we have returned displaced persons from Maiduguri at least to their local government headquarters because their homes have been destroyed and they can go back to their homes until they have been rebuilt.
“The Local Government Areas where we have our men include, Nzaizai, Magumeri, Konduga, Bama, Dikwa, Mafa and others,’’ Chukwu said.
He said the presence of police personnel in the liberated communities has helped in checking incidents that would have deterred many persons from returning to their communities.
Chukwu said police presence was not only restricted in the liberated communities as personnel were deployed in the various IDP camps to maintain order.
“What we really do here is to move in to occupy and fortify while the military does the real bush operations.
“And as you know definitely in operations there must be escapees, some of the Boko Haram elements escape the military operations, they find their way back to the liberated areas to unleash terror on inhabitants but the police have in a number of occasions encountered them.
“For instance, on the 24th of last month in Nzaizai Local Government, some insurgents came in to attack villagers and in the process abducted one man and when the information got to the DPO, he quickly mobilized, went after them, rescued the man and recovered a general purpose machine gun.
“Two days later, they went into another community, did the same thing, abducted a man, took over 200 livestock and this same DPO went after them, rescued the man and recovered the livestock.
“So there are pockets of these issues coming up here and there but the police have been able to contain them while the military continue with their bush operations.’’
Chukwu added that the police have maintained a high level of alert on the highways to ensure that fleeing terrorists were arrested and issues of diversion of relief materials were checked.
He said the police remained committed to giving other agencies of government the needed support to ensure that liberated communities were reconstructed and inhabitants returned.