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Silence Persists 24 Hours After Abduction of Borno High Court Judge, Wife, 2 Others

It has been 24 hours since Borno State High Court Judge, his wife, driver, and police security guard were abducted by ISWAP, and there has been no communication from the captors yet. 

Nearly 24 hours after Borno State High Court Judge, Justice Haruna Mshelia, his wife, driver, and a police security guard were abducted by members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in northeastern Nigeria, the state remains in confusion as there has been no communication from the captors.

The incident, which took place in the evening of Monday, June 24, has sent shockwaves throughout the state as it marks the first abduction of a serving High Court Judge by Boko Haram or ISWAP since the insurgency began.

According to sources close to the situation, Justice Mshelia, a top-ranking High Court Judge, was travelling with his wife, a senior judicial officer, from Biu to Maiduguri when they were ambushed by heavily armed non-state actors at a perilous spot between the Borno and Yobe state boundary in North East Nigeria. 

Eyewitnesses reported that the attackers intercepted the vehicle between Buratai town in Borno state and Buni-gari in Yobe state. The gunmen forced the judge, his wife, driver, and police escort out of the vehicle and reportedly escorted them into a bush leading to Sambisa Forest.

“This incident has left us in utter shock,” a source at the Borno State High Court, who preferred not to be named, said. “Justice Mshelia, known for his impeccable security consciousness, falling into the hands of Boko Haram is beyond comprehension.”

Man in suit standing in front of blue vehicle.
File: Justice Mshelia. Photo credit: Facebook

For over a decade, travelling from Maiduguri to Biu has been fraught with danger due to the insurgency. The once straightforward routes have been transformed into perilous journeys, travellers often take long detours to avoid insurgent strongholds. Despite security improvements, the route through Buratai remains risky.

“Justice Mshelia and his family took the shorter route through Buratai to link Yobe before heading to Maiduguri on that fateful day,” said another source. “That area, despite a significant military presence, is a known Boko Haram stronghold with direct access to Sambisa Forest.”

The judiciary of Borno state remains on edge, awaiting any communication from the abductors. “We understand that the police special squad tracked their phones to the last known location before they were turned off,” an anonymous source revealed. “We are all anxiously waiting to hear if there are any demands.”

Efforts to reach the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Hauwa Abubakar, for comment, have been unsuccessful, as her phone remains unreachable.

Justice Mshelia, who was a private practice lawyer before he joined the bench, was the chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) between 2008 and 2010.

Sources familiar with the pattern of abduction by the terror groups operating in the region say there are strong indications that the abductors may soon make contacts and demands. 

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Abdulkareem Haruna

Abdulkareem Haruna is a Nigerian journalist currently employed as the Editor for Lake Chad at HumAngle. For over a decade, he has demonstrated a passionate commitment to reporting on the Boko Haram conflict and the crisis in the Lake Chad region of northeastern Nigeria. He is a graduate of English Language and holds a Diploma in Mass Communications. Prior to his current role, he served as an assistant editor at both Premium Times and Leadership Newspaper.

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