After proofs surfaced that the information it provided when it said the kidnapped staff of NNPC involved in oil exploration work in the Lake Chad Basin had all been rescued, and denied any deaths directly connected to the workers, the Nigerian military has retracted, and tendered an apology for misleading the public.
This is coming a day after Boko Haram released a video showing some of the abducted workers, drawing concern from a large section of the public.
It is also coming after the Vice Chancellor of University of Maiduguri, Abubakar Njodi, who confirmed that staff of the university who were providing technical support to the NNPC in the exploration work were killed in the attack while others were abducted, totally dismissed the army’s claims.
The army, while retracting and apologizing, disclosed that so far, the search and rescue team in the Boko Haram ambush had recovered additional bodies of five soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF, and five members of the exploration team.
This information was contained in a statement released through its spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, early Sunday. He described the earlier claims as regrettable, saying it was not deliberate.
Usman attributed the error to the army’s efforts at ensuring timely dissemination of information on activities of troops in all operations, stating, “We have strived to keep the public informed on our activities with no intention of distorting any fact”.
The statement said, “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”, noting that, “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.”
The full statement read thus, “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 five soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF and five 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, one Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, four Dane Guns, eight Tyres and two Tyre Rims.
“Other items recovered include one Pumping Machine, two Tyre Jacks, one Super Battery, five Reflective Jackets, three Toyota Hilux, four Jerry cans filled with PMS, one Motorola Radio, one Geographical Positioning System (GPS), 21 empty Jerry cans, two Shovels and three Food Coolers. Troops also recovered 122 rounds of PKM ammunition, 213 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 1255 Anti-Aircraft Guns ammunition, four boxes of API 12.7mm ammunition, one AK-47 Rifle Magazine, a Digger, two Bows and 13 Arrows, two 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”, the statement concluded.
Many Nigerians will hope that this incident will serve as a useful lesson to the army, to not mislead the public, and to redouble its efforts towards ensuring that the deadly terror sect does not resurge into its prior devastating state.
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