The Emir of Gwoza in Borno, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu-Timta, has returned home following relative peace and security five years after displacement from the kingdom by Boko Haram insurgents.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a mammoth crowd gathered at Pulka and major streets in Gwoza metropolis on Monday to give the first class traditional ruler a rousing welcome.
Shehu-Timta who was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Usman Kadafur, Sen. Ali Ndume (APC-Borno South), members of the state House of Assembly and village heads, among others, was received in a colourful celebration showcased with a martial display of Gwoza culture at the emir’s palace.
Addressing the people, Gov. Babagana Umara said the return of the monarch signified the return of civic authority in the local institution.
Represented by his deputy (Kadafur), the governor said his administration accords high respect and commitment to the traditional institution, describing it as a “symbol and pride of every society’’.
“I felicitate with the Emir and people of Gwoza over the official relocation and return of our Emir back to his palace after years in Maiduguri.
“This administration will not afford to toy with the people of Gwoza and the traditional institution.
“I therefore call on you to support the Emir and security agencies to end insurgency in order to move the emirate forward.
“The government is not unaware of the numerous challenges related to the relocation of the Emir. We are going to accelerate the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gwoza General Hospital, water sources and other public utility buildings, among others,” he said.
According to him, the government will fast-track construction of the mega schools to enable the students resume classes.
Speaking earlier, Shehu-Timta said he voluntarily returned home to build confidence and encourage his subjects to also return home and go back to their normal livelihood.
Shehu-Timta recalled when the insurgents sacked the town in 2014, killings dozens of people, declaring the town as their spiritual caliphate.
He said: “Dozens of my people ran for their lives and became Internally Displaced Persons in Maiduguri, Adamawa, Abuja and Lagos, while some fled to Cameroon.
“Today is my happiest day in life as I officially returned back to my domain after been displaced by insurgents.
“I therefore call all people of Gwoza to come back home, so that we will rebuild our communities.”
The monarch also appealed to the Borno Government to construct more tents in the town for IDPs to return and rebuild their livelihood.
On security, the monarch appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies to restore mobile (telecommunications) network in the town, noting that without communication, life will be difficult for the people.
Also speaking, Ndume appealed to security agencies to beef up security to protect farmers from Boko Haram attacks.
He also urged the military to intensify its operations on the Mandara Mountains to clear the remnants of the insurgents and to enable residents of the area to return.
NAN recalls that in August 2014, Boko Haram captured Gwoza town with a population of 275,000 people and declared it the headquarters of its caliphate.
It was later liberated by the Nigerian military.
The insurgents had allegedly killed more than 27,000 people and displaced 1.8 million others in the North-East region of the country.