Gwoza: The troubled town

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In Nigeria
Aug 25th, 2014
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Gwoza is a Local Government Area of Borno State. Its headquarters is in the town of Gwoza, a border town about 135 kilometres Southeast ofMaiduguri, the state capital. It has an area of 2,883 km and a population of 276,312, according to the 2006 census.

The terrain is rocky and hilly. There are 11 wards in the largely farming community split between Muslims and Christians.

The Gwoza Hills, with heights of about 1300m above sea level, provides scenery and is made up of ranges of mountains known as the Mandara Mountains. These mountains form a natural barrier between Nigeria and Cameroon, starting from Pulka. They overlook the game reserves by meandering towards Mubi and beyond in neighbouring Adamawa State.

Gwoza local government has been called “a notorious hide out for the Boko Haram insurgents, who arrived in the area in 2009 from Maiduguri. The area has suffered considerable violence as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Most telephone masts in Gwoza and surrounding villages have been vandalised by insurgents. Roads out of the region are extremely dangerous.

Residents said Boko Haram members fleeing from Sambisa Forest had moved into their towns on motorcycles, “being spotted in Patawe, Fadagwe, Wala, Uvaha, Gatha, Jige, Warabe and Ngoshe” villages. Motorcycles had been banned throughout Borno State for almost two years, and were rarely used by non-Boko Haram members.

Senator Ali Ndume representing Borno South constituency hails from the town. He has been lamenting thwe plight of the people, many of whom have relocated to Adamawa State in displaced persons’ camps.

House of Representatives member Hon. Peter Biye Gumtha said since the beginning of the Boko Haram attacks, “over 200 churches have been completely razed down, leaving only 8 functional churches in the entire Gwoza Council area.”

On 30 May 2014, Emir of Gwoza Idrissa Timta, was killed after he was abducted with his colleague, the Emir of Uba, Ismaila Mamza, by armed men, in Hawul “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.

His son, Muhammad Timta, became the Emir. But he too was recently abducted. He managed to escape and has since fled. The sect has appointed an Ameer to lead the community The sect’s appointed head now presides from the emir’s palace.

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