Baga death toll rises, 228 killed, 4,000 houses burnt – Senator Maina

By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri

Contrary to reports of death toll of 185 lives and destruction of over 2,000 houses at Baga, Borno State, after Boko Haram gunmen and men of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTC) clashed, last week, Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan, representing Borno North Senatorial District, declared that his two-day visit to the border town revealed 228 fresh graves, 4,000 houses leveled.

Lawan made the “declaration and assessment” of the Baga carnage, Saturday.

According to him, despite the widely reported carnage and destruction of Baga, there was much more to the reports on the total number of people killed and houses destroyed in the fishing and commercial town.

 Residents walk past burnt houses in the remote northeast town of Baga on April 21, 2013 after two days of clashes between officers of the Joint Task Force and members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on April 19 in the town near Lake Chad, 200 kms north of Maiduguri, in Borno State. Photo:AFP.

Residents walk past burnt houses in the remote northeast town of Baga on April 21, 2013 after two days of clashes between officers of the Joint Task Force and members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on April 19 in the town near Lake Chad, 200 kms north of Maiduguri, in Borno State. Photo:AFP.

The reality of the clash on ground, he disclosed, is very much higher than the 185 lives lost and the destruction of 2,000 houses, 62 vehicles and 284 motorcycles reported. Instead, the senator said: “During my two-day on-the-spot visit to Baga, what I saw was very frightening and sad to report and comment further, as many more lives and properties were destroyed in the two-day carnage. The houses leveled or torched run for a distance of three-four kilometers of township settlements.

I drove through the charred remains  and counted no fewer than 4,000 houses of innocent residents destroyed in the fight between the Boko Haram sect and soldiers of Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF).

“The magnitude of the carnage has overwhelmed me, as the number of and level at which the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigerian Red Cross (NRC), the JNL, Izala and other humanitarian agencies in Baga town are carrying out their humanitarian activities is grossly inadequate to meet the food, health and housing requirements of victims that are still sleeping in the open air. Even, NEMA, as at last Friday, had only two tents to cope with tens of hundreds of displaced victims.”

 satellite dish sits outside a burnt house in the remote northeast town of Baga on April 21, 2013 after two days of clashes between officers of the Joint Task Force and members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on April 19 in the town near Lake Chad, 200 kms north of Maiduguri, in Borno State. Photo: AFP.

Satellite dish sits outside a burnt house in the remote northeast town of Baga on April 21, 2013 after two days of clashes between officers of the Joint Task Force and members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on April 19 in the town near Lake Chad, 200 kms north of Maiduguri, in Borno State. Photo: AFP.

Speaking on the exact death toll, Lawan said: “I personally visited all the four grave sites before arriving at the exact number of residents killed in the destruction of Baga town.

At the Wayah grave
yard, I counted 130 fresh graves, while at the Arewa cemetery, 60 people were buried by their relations. The Magumeri grave yard also gave me a total of 60 fresh graves. These bring to a total of 228 people massacred and buried in Baga by their surviving relations last week.

“Inside the town, the community leader furnished me with a total of eight graves in which some of the victims killed in the Tuesday and Wednesday clash between the Boko Haram insurgents and soldiers.”

 Women allegedly sacked from their houses by soldiers stand in front of burnt houses in the remote northeast town of Baga on April 21, 2013 after two days of clashes between officers of the Joint Task Force and members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on April 19 in the town near Lake Chad, 200 kms north of Maiduguri, in Borno State. Photo: AFP.

Women allegedly sacked from their houses by soldiers stand in front of burnt houses in the remote northeast town of Baga on April 21, 2013 after two days of clashes between officers of the Joint Task Force and members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on April 19 in the town near Lake Chad, 200 kms north of Maiduguri, in Borno State. Photo: AFP.

He called on humanitarian agencies and philanthropists to act swiftly to “intervene and assist” the surviving tens of hundreds of Baga victims with food, shelter, medical services and drugs, and shelter by setting up more resettlement camps and water points, as against NEMA’s two tents.

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