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How acting president defied Boko Haram to make Borno trip

Acting president Osinbajo was going to press on with his trip to Borno, in spite of a Boko Haram attack on the State hours earlier.

Again.

Time check: 7pm.

The affected area was Addawari village, Jiddari-Polo which lies a few kilometers from the Maiduguri Government Residential Area (GRA); marooned in the heart of the city.

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It was the most brazen Boko Haram attack yet, since the terrorists were sent into their hideouts by a resurgent Nigerian military in December of 2016.

As the sporadic gunshots from the terrorists intensified, residents locked themselves indoors and muttered last prayers under their breaths.

Some fled the city as Nigerian troops engaged the terrorists in an hour long gun duel much later.

“We have been indoors for the past two hours. Sounds of gunshots everywhere. We can’t even go out to break our fast,”TheCable quoted one resident of the war ravaged Borno as saying.

Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, issued a statement moments later, assuring Maiduguri residents that soldiers were on top of the situation.

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"The people of Maiduguri and its environs should not panic, as everything is under control,” Usman assured as bullet shells rained on Maiduguri.

The control and command center of the Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram was moved to Maiduguri by President Muhammadu Buhari as soon as he took over the reins of the nation's leadership from an embattled Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai was at the nearby Giwa barracks when Boko Haram launched its latest attack on Maiduguri.

As the dust settled in the wake of the terrorist onslaught, 18 lives were no more.

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With tension enveloping Borno State amid sporadic gunshots, aides of acting president Yemi Osinbajo wondered whether the nation's stand-in Commander-In-Chief was going to cancel his scheduled trip for the troubled State billed for the following day.

They could have been forgiven for not packing their bags for Borno in a few hours.

"We were unsure if we should continue with preparations for the trip", confessed one top ranking aide of the acting president on condition of anonymity, because he hadn't been commissioned to comment on the subject.

Hours later, in an emotion-laden phone conversation with Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, Osinbajo assured the former that nothing was going to prevent him from making the trip to the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency.

With intelligence and security agencies handing Aso Rock the all clear to proceed with the trip, there was no holding Osinbajo back.

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"He betrayed no emotions at all. He just told us to put everything in place in readiness for our departure to Borno the next day (Thursday, June 8)", another presidential aide disclosed.

A special adviser in the Buhari administration told Pulse: "Osinbajo's thinking was that, if we cancelled the trip, we'll be handing victory to the terrorists. He wouldn't even entertain thoughts of a trip reschedule".

Osinbajo was visiting Maiduguri to launch the Special Intervention Relief plan which will ensure the quarterly distribution of over 30,000 metric tonnes of grains to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fleeing Boko Haram bombs and guns in the northeast region of Nigeria.

At about 1pm on Thursday, Osinbajo and his team landed in Maiduguri as Governors of the region made a beeline to receive them.

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As the acting president's convoy sped through the dusty streets of the capital where a siege was in force only hours earlier, residents waved and screamed in palpable relief.

"We thought the acting president was going to cancel the trip after yesterday's attack", said Borno State Governor Shettima.

Boko Haram commenced its war against the Nigerian State in 2009.

The terrorist sect has killed more than 30,000 people in that time; displacing millions from their homes and abducting thousands.

Even though the capacity of the sect to seize whole communities has been sufficiently reduced due to military gains in the Buhari era, it is still able to launch soft and sporadic attacks like Wednesday's.

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