MAIDUGURI: Military wives in the restive Nigerian city of Maiduguri have taken to the streets this week, burning tyres to prevent their husbands’ deployment to fight Boko Haram.
About 300 women and 500 children have for two days gathered at the gates of a military base in the Borno state capital, claiming that their spouses were ill-equipped to take on the Islamist militants.
Boko Haram has been waging a brutal insurgency since 2009 which has left thousands of people dead, despite a state of emergency imposed in three northeast states since May 2013 and a troop surge.
The soldiers stationed in Maiduguri were due to retake the town of Gwoza, which Boko Haram overran last week, killing dozens and sending hundreds more fleeing.
“No weapons for our husbands, no trip to Gwoza or any volatile place. We are tired of burying our loved ones,” Thabita John, one of the protesting wives, said. She added that the soldiers were “ill-equipped to fight the dreaded Boko Haram”.
Anoter soldier’s wife, Rahina Ali, added: “Our husbands are always given inferior weapons while the Boko Haram have superior weapons.”
The military wives staged a similar protest on Saturday.
Some survivors of the attack on Gwoza managed to make it to Maiduguri, some 135kkm away, but hundreds more were trapped on a nearby mountain and short on food. President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of a state of emergency in Borno and neighbouring Yobe and Adamawa initially saw Boko Haram pushed out of urban centres.
But the thousands of extra troops, vehicles and aircraft have largely failed to stop militant attacks in remoter, rural areas. This year, attacks have occurred on an almost daily basis.