Residents of villages along Damaturu-Maiduguri road say Boko Haram insurgents have sustained their attacks on the area but that soldiers are not fighting back.
Many were stranded early January following the attacks, and the convoy of a military commander was also attacked in the area.
Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno state, had accused soldiers of extorting commuters on the road.
The residents who spoke with TheCable on Monday said the attacks have been on the increase since the governor came down hard on the soldiers.
“The soldiers have left and we are on our own now,” a resident said.
“Since that day that the governor shouted at soldiers, it appeared all of them left. After that day, there have been attacks on our villages on daily basis. Travellers are being kidnapped every hour and all the military roadblocks are no more there, because these attackers always go without being confronted by the military.”
Another resident said villagers are moving en mass to Maiduguri and some to Damaturu in search of safety.
“Villagers in Auno, Jakana and Benisheik are fleeing in their hundreds to Maiduguri. The insurgents attack at least twice daily in these villages,” he said.
“It is also sad that nobody is talking, except the governor. The elders of Borno are not talking. The NSA, chief of staff to the president, NNPC GMD and EFCC chairman are all from Borno and none of them is saying anything about this sustained attacks on Damaturu-Maiduguri road. We are really scared right now, and that is why our people are running for safety.”
It is not yet clear why troops allegedly reduced their presence in the area as Sagir Musa, army spokesperson, did not immediately respond to calls by TheCable.
The army had, however, said the accusation of extortion by Zulum against soldiers could reverse the gains recorded by the troops fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east.
“It is important to unequivocally observe that public outburst particularly by eminent personalities such as a state executive could be counterproductive and indeed capable of reversing the gains recorded so far in the ongoing fight against insurgents and other criminal elements across the nation,” the army had said.