How Boko Haram Killed Emir of Gwoza in Borno
The Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrissa Timta, was yesterday killed by suspected Boko Haram terrorists. His convoy was ambushed while he was on the way to attend the funeral of his deceased colleague, the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Shehu Abubakar.
The Emir was traveling in a motorcade alongside his counterparts, the Emir of Askira, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibn Muhammadu Askirama, and the Emir of Uba, Alhaji Ali ibn Ismaila Mamza, who had all been elevated to the status of first-class Borno monarchs.
The secretary to the Borno State government, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, has confirmed the death of the Emir in a signed statement: “The Borno State Government regrets to announce the unfortunate murder of His Royal Highness, the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrissa Timta,” the statement reads. “The Emir was killed around 9am today following a bloody attack by some gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram along Tashan Alade on the way to Biu town, headquarters of Biu Local Government Area in Southern Borno State.”
Those traveling with the monarchs said the Emir of Gwoza was in the same car with that of Uba when they were attacked.
Witnesses said the monarchs came under heavy ambush attack at a spot called Zur, near Shaffa town in Hawul local government area of Borno State.
Zur, is near a bridge and a place where locals go to get firewood for commercial purpose.
It was gathered that when the motorcade got close to Zur, they had to move slowly due to the bad roads caused by erosion.
“It was at that very spot that the gunmen came out from nowhere and opened fire on the slow-moving convoy. You would think they were soldiers, at first instance, but when they began to shoot at the first vehicle ahead everyone near the area knew there was trouble and we all took to our heels,” said a local farmer who was able to witness the attack.
It was also learnt that, soon after the leading vehicle was demobilised, some other gunmen approached the vehicle in which the Emir of Gwoza and his counterpart, the Emir of Uba, were being driven and began to spray the car with bullets.
Security sources said the two emirs of Gwoza and Uba managed to escape through the opposite side of the door that was being attacked and fled into the bush.
Amidst the thunderous confusion, everyone in the motorcade ran to various directions.
“No one waited for the other person because the shooting was too much; the gunmen who were over 20 in number continued to shoot using these guns called AK47,” said the local farmer.
It was mgathered that the gunmen had sustained their firing even as all members of the convoy including the royal guards and the police escort team had taken to their heels.
The Emir of Askira, who was driving right behind the two attacked monarchs, was lucky to escape because his driver manoeuvred his Jeep and drove it out of the danger spot, even as the gunmen continued to fire at his vehicle.
The police officer that serves as the orderly to the Emir of Gwoza could not immediately give an account of where the late monarch was, after the gunmen had left, until much later that his body was found in the pool of his blood inside the bush.
Minutes after the incident, the story went viral that the emirs had been kidnapped and their whereabouts unknown. But after about two hours later, the news came that the Emir of Uba, Ismaila Mamza, was alive as he was said to have talkeCd with his eldest sister and confirmed that he was alive and well.
Some palace officials in Gwoza emirate who spoke off the record that, in a bid to make it to Gombe and participate in the funeral of their deceased colleague whose corpse would be arriving Gombe from London for burial at 3pm, the Emir of Gwoza had to leave his domain on Thursday afternoon for Uba where he was hosted by his colleague, the Emir of Uba.
“His Royal Highness’ travel was scheduled that he would pass the night in Uba with his colleague, the Emir of Uba; then their colleague, the Emir of Askira, who is in the same local government with that of Uba would join them in the morning, before they commenced their journey to Biu where the Emir of Biu would join them and then head to Gombe. It was in line with that arrangement that the three emirs had to travel through Hawul local government, then to Biu. The Emir of Uba being the youngest amongst them opted to be driven in the same vehicle with the Emir of Gwoza, while that of Askira would be right behind them,” said the source.
“We were approaching Shaffa about 9:30am or so when we came under heavy attack; the atmosphere was so, so terrifying that everyone had to run; initially we thought the emirs were kidnapped but it was much later that we learnt that His Royal Highness Alhaji Idrissa Timta, our father and leader in Gwoza…(sobs) was found dead in the bush,” said the source.
Its also confirmed that two police officers were also killed in the attack, while some other persons received injuries – some from bullets and other had bruises on their bodies while scampering for safety.
The Emir of Uba was later found in a small hamlet near Shaffa town. He was seen calm and unruffled.
The Borno State government has described the incident as shocking and unfortunate even as the late Emir was described in a statement as “a great man who worked very hard to promote peace and progress in Gwoza”.
The statement further reads: “Borno State Government is terribly shocked by this incident. The Government prays that Allah admit the late Emir into aljanna Firadaus and give family, members of the Gwoza Emirate Council, the people of Gwoza, the State Council of Chiefs and the entire people of Borno State the fortitude to bear this very traumatic loss especially at a time the State is still dealing with equally disturbing issues related with security challenges in the State.”
The deceased monarch ascended to the throne of Gwoza as a second-class chief after the demise of his father, Alhaji Idrisa Timta, in the early 1980s. Before his ascension to the throne he was a court registrar in Biu local government. He had a diploma in Sharia before he joined the Borno State judiciary.
Until recent years when the Boko Haram conflict ravaged his domain, the late monarch was remembered for the peace that his people of Gwoza emirate enjoyed for about 30 decades. One of his achievements was the elevation of his stool to the status of a first-class monarch, which he was able to achieve but only a few months before his death.
The Emir of Gwoza was not the first in the royal family of Gwoza to be counted amongst the casualties of the Boko Haram conflict. One of his sons, who was the district head of Takumbari, was also killed last year by the Boko Haram terrorists.
The emir’s last contact with the media was in his recent SOS letter which he wrote to all security chiefs in the country as well as the federal government decrying the incessant attacks and killings his people suffered in the hands of the terrorists. He implored the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, deploy more troops to protect the lives of his people whom he may risk losing if they all flee to Cameroon.
He stated in the SOS letter: “Sincerely speaking, my people, including the traders and other businessmen and women, have been prevented from travelling to Maiduguri to buy industrial and household goods for sale to customers in my chiefdom with an estimated population of 655, 000 in 11 wards and other border communities with Cameroon.
“Besides that, there is no blessed day the Boko Haram gunmen will not kill 7 -15 residents on these three roads that had already been blocked and taken over by insurgents. My people have been prevented from going to work on their farmlands last year; and even the limited cultivated farmlands with harvests, including my 350-hectre farmlands and orchards at Jaje village, were seized by the insurgents last October… Therefore, I am pleading, and will continue to plead to the Military, Police and other Security Agencies in the state to take emergency action on the three blocked and taken-over roads in Gwoza council area. If my people flee to Cameroon, leaving me alone in this palace, who will I rule, as their traditional and religious leader in this chiefdom?”
The Emir died at a time Boko Haram gunmen had overtaken a substantial portion of his domain behind the Gwoza hills, hoisting their flags and declaring it an occupied territory currently being ruled under sharia law.
Borno State governor Kashim Shettima had returned to Maiduguri from Abuja alongside Senator Muhammed Ali Ndume, who is from Gwoza, to join sympathisers who had thronged the Circular Road home of the late Emir’s elder brother, Alhaji Haruna Timta, a former head of service of Borno State.
His remains would be buried in Gwoza town today.
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