Hundreds of people have been trapped in towns and villages after Boko Haram fighters dislodged Nigerian troops in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State over a week ago.
Credible sources told our Correspondent that the terrorists loyal to the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) have also hoisted their flags in many places including military outposts in New Marte and Kirenowa, the biggest town in the local government.
On Sunday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru issued a 48-hour deadline for the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole to recapture Marte from Boko Haram terrorists.
He also directed them to reclaim Kirenowa, Kirta, Wulgo, Chikingudo, and many other communities around Marte and Ngala local government areas.
Our correspondents report that after weeks of attempts to capture the strategic town, Marte fell into the hands of Boko Haram on Monday, February 15.
It was learnt that the terrorists have also taken possession of the military formation in Marte, including high profile fighting equipment and vehicles.
Army installations under the 22 Armoured Brigade in Marte, including the 153 Infantry Battalion located in the same base were expected to provide security in the area. It was learnt that the brigade commander has been redeployed.
Sources said following the departure of the Nigerian troops, Boko Haram fighters have stationed their fighters in strategic locations while others are serving as police, giving directives to locals who were unable to leave places like Kirenowa and others.
“The terrorists have taken people in the town hostage. They are now in control of mosques, hospitals and other government buildings,” one of our sources said.
Another source said: “They are in absolute control of Marte and environs, giving directives as to when people can go out. It is like what happened years ago when they established their territory in the outskirt of Kirenowa close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.
“People would have to take permission from them before doing anything. I pray that Nigerian authorities would mobilise and reclaim the town soon,” he said.
Marte is over 130 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and is located on the western coast of Lake Chad.
Following the attack by Boko Haram, the military operatives in the town had to relocate to Dikwa, 90 kilometres to Maiduguri.
During his visit to Dikwa, Maj. Gen. Attahiru while addressing the troops at the Army Super Camp 9 at Dikwa, which also fell into the hands of Boko Haram on February 19, but recaptured by troops 24 hours after, said they should go back to Marte.