The Nigerian Army on Sunday said it had uncovered Boko Haram logistics supply syndicates among loggers and charcoal dealers in Borno.
Brig.-Gen. Bulama Biu, the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Maiduguri.
Biu was reacting to the ban imposed on the supply of firewood and charcoal in Borno.
He disclosed that intelligence report indicated that some dealers in Maiduguri were hiding under the guise of firewood trade to aid the insurgents.
“Some of them are errand boys of the Boko Haram insurgents, they hide food items, drugs, petrol and other items beneath their trucks, and supplied them to the terrorists.
“We also found out that some of them are running businesses on behalf of the Boko Haram insurgents.
“They go deep into the forest where ordinary people could not venture; to cut down trees, burn and produce charcoal.
“This could not be possible except they are in agreement with the insurgents.
“We arrested some of them and they made quite revealing testimonies, we shall fish them out to put an end to their nefarious activities,” he said.
Biu explained that the ban was temporarily designed to checkmate activities of criminal elements among the dealers and not to make life difficult for firewood and charcoal users.
He stated that the military had allowed suppliers from other states such as Oyo, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna to supply their goods under strict supervision of the command.
Biu called on the people to support the military and other security agencies to end insurgency as well as protect lives and property.
On his part, Malam Maidugu Ali, the Chairman, Borno chapter of the Firewood Sellers Association of Nigeria, expressed dismay over the development.
He expressed the association’s shock at the allegation by the military authorities.
Ali said the union had engaged members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to support the military in the screening of its members before allowing them entry into Maiduguri.
He also stated that the union had adopted measures to screen vehicles conveying firewood or charcoal to Maiduguri, to check suspicious activities among its members.
Maidugu disclosed that more than 60 members of the association were killed by the Boko Haram insurgents in the past 10 years.
“Three years ago; we also recorded an incident when the insurgents’ hijacked one of our trucks and used it for suicide bomb attack, both the driver and his boy were killed during the incident.
“We are also victims of insurgency; we are strict in the registration of new members, any prospective person must produce two sureties before he was enrolled and engage in firewood trade,” he said.
Maidugu noted that the measure was to monitor its members and guard against any infiltration by the Boko Haram insurgents.
He reiterated the readiness of the association to support the military in the counter insurgency campaign and peace restoration process in the state.