With the Nigerian Army ate its words on what actually transpired in its attempts to rescue oil workers and staff of the embattled University of Maiduguri, the country’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has assured that the federal government was on top of the upsurging terrorist situation in the north eastern flank of the country.
He commended the military for the progress already recorded with the rescue of some of the abducted, but ordered the continuation of search and rescue missions to locate and ensure the freedom of all remaining abducted persons .
He adds that justice would be pursued for the victims and against those who engage in unacceptable, criminal and terrorist conduct.
The Army which gave an impression that it effectively dealt with the Boko Haram terrorists that ambushed and abducted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) workers, lecturers recanted after it became public that it fed the public with less than the whole truth.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Professor Ibrahim Njodi, who lost a brother in the ambush, exposed the lie in the Army story when he declared last week:”The military said it has rescued all the geologists working for NNPC. I wonder how the recovery of corpses can be referred to as being rescued,” he said.
Mr. Njodi said it was based on assurances by security operatives that his staff were out for exploration activities adding rather sarcastically, “we are all at liberty to guess now as to whether security was provided or not.”
“We have lost four vibrant members of our academic staff in that incident. None of the affected lecturers put in less than ten years in the university. For me to get a replacement for them would be difficult. We are talking of a department that has about 12 to 13 members of academic staff. Four of them are no more.”
The incident led the Minister of Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, to put a stop to the work of the explorers in the Lake Chad basin until security arrangements are firmer.
In a fresh statement at the weekend by its spokesman, Brigadier- General Sani Kusherka Usman, the Army regretted and apologised for its earlier statement.
He stated: “The incident of 25th July 2017 where some Boko Haram Terrorists ambushed our troops including members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) escorting some staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as that of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) on oil exploration in Borno Yesu District of Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno state is unfortunate and highly regrettable.
“Most regrettable also is my earlier release on the said incident about the rescue of all NNPC Staff. The error in the statement was not deliberate.
“The Nigerian Army in this present dispensation is reputed for timely dissemination of information on activities of our troops in all theatre of operations.
“We have strived to keep the public informed on our activities with no intention of distorting any fact. Our troops have doubled efforts in the pursuit of the Boko Haram terrorists while search and rescue is still on-going to secure the safe return of the remaining civilians.
“So far the search and rescue team has recovered additional bodies of 5 soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF and 5 members of the exploration team.
“Contrary to reports in some media, six members of exploration team out of 12 that went out are still missing, while one of the NNPC staff returned to base alive.
“On the other hand, our pursuit team also recovered two of our own Gun trucks and an additional Toyota Buffalo Gun truck from the insurgents.
“In addition, the team also made the following recoveries; four Rocket Propelled Grenade Bombs, four Rocket Propelled Grenade chargers, six AK-47 rifles, one Anti-Aircraft Gun, one General Purpose Machine Gun,one Anti-Aircraft Gun Barrel, 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, four Dane Guns, eight Tyres and two Tyre Rims. Other items recovered include 1 Pumping Machine, 2 Tyre Jacks, 1 Super Battery, 5 Reflective Jackets, 3 Toyota Hilux, 4 Jerry cans filled with PMS, 1 Motorola Radio, 1 Geographical Positioning System (GPS), 21 empty Jerry cans, 2 Shovels and 3 Food Coolers.
:Troops also recovered 122 rounds of PKM ammunition, 213 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 1255 Anti-Aircraft Guns ammunition, 4 boxes of API 12.7mm ammunition, 1 AK-47 Rifle Magazine, a Digger, 2 Bows and 13 Arrows, 2 LLG Bombs, assorted drugs and assorted working tools.
“The Nigerian Army condoles with the families of all that lost their loved ones in this unfortunate incident.
“Search and rescue efforts are on-going. We are counting on the goodwill and support of the populace in volunteering valuable information that could help in the search and rescue operation.
“What the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists are doing are pure criminal activities of kidnapping to gain funds. This has been noted and will be jointly addressed in conjunction with other Security Services.
“The Nigerian Army remains resolute in the fight against terrorism and would not relent in its effort to safe guard lives of citizens, properties and the territorial integrity of the country. ”
Osinbajo condemned the ambush, attack and abduction of soldiers, and civilians who were carrying out their duties in the Lake Chad Basin Frontier Exploration.
He commiserated with the relatives and associates of those who lost their lives in what a statement from his office described as a “despicable onslaught”, while wishing the injured speedy recovery.
“Some of these extraordinarily selfless Nigerians from the NNPC and the University Of Maiduguri put their lives on the line that we and generations to come will enjoy the resources of this land. We will never forget that sacrifice,” Osinbajo said.
The statement noted that although pockets of terrorists have been launching attacks recently in Borno State, the Acting President assured the people of the State, the region and indeed all Nigerians, that the federal government was not only on top of the situation, but will define the end of these atrocities by both winning the war and winning the peace in the North-east.
Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity
Office of the Acting President
30 July 2017