Nigeria’s militant Islamists have “completely surrounded” Maiduguri, the main city in north-eastern Borno state, traditional elders have warned.
The military needed to “fortify” the city, which had a population of more than two million, to prevent an assault “from all directions”, they said.
The Boko Haram militants had “annexed” areas that were about 50km (30 miles) from Maiduguri, they said.
Boko Haram declared a caliphate in areas it controls last month.
The government has not yet commented on the statement issued by the Borno Elders Forum (BEF).
It represents influential people in the state, including former government ministers and civil servants.
“We are convinced that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not shown sufficient political will to fight Boko Haram and rescue us from the clutches of the insurgents which may ultimately lead to the total annihilation of the inhabitants of Borno,” BEF said.
“The insurgents have rendered impassable almost all the roads leading to Maiduguri,” it added.
BEF said the military needed to “urgently fortify” the city.
“The insurgents have surrounded Maiduguri and are nursing the ambition of attacking the city from all directions,” BEF said.
“There is credible local intelligence information to that effect. We must be pro-active. Maiduguri is heavily pregnant with people who have trooped into it hoping for safety,” the elders added.
Boko Haram’s five-year insurgency is seen as the biggest threat to Nigeria’s territorial integrity since the 1967-70 civil war, analysts say.
The group has changed tactics in recent months, holding on to towns in the north-east, where most people are Muslims, rather than carrying out hit-and-run attacks.
Who are Boko Haram?
- Founded in 2002
- Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
- Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state
- Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – but also attacks on police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
- Some three million people affected
- Declared terrorist group by US in 2013
Who are Boko Haram?