After Despicable Silence, Nigeria’s Acting President Finally Condemns Deadly Ambush On Oil Workers

By Simon Ateba, Washington D.C.

igeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday condemned “the appalling ambush, attack and abduction of soldiers, and civilians who were carrying out their duties to the Nation in the Lake Chad Basin Frontier Exploration” on July 25, five days after the incident happened and newspapers had begun to question Mr. Osinbajo’s silence in the face of what some viewed as a massacre.

Mr. Osinbajo said those behind “this kind of unacceptable, criminal and terrorist conduct” would be fished out.

On Saturday after first lying about it, the Nigerian Army admitted that the ambush on oil workers in Borno on July 25 was a massacre. More than forty people were killed by Boko Haram while several others, including lecturers of the University of Maiduguri, were kidnapped and are being held hostage.

At least 14 soldiers and dozens of civilians were killed while on an oil exploration mission in the country’s ravaged northeast.

“The objective of this patriotic exercise is to open up new areas for oil exploration for the common good of all Nigerians. The terrorist attack resulted in a number of deaths of hardworking and innocent Nigerians, and the abduction of some,” Mr. Osinbajo said in a statement released by his spokesman Laolu Akande.

Mr. Akande said “Prof. Osinbajo commiserates with the families, relatives and associates of those who lost their lives in the despicable onslaught and wishes the injured speedy recovery”.

“The Acting President after an emergency meeting with the Military chiefs on Thursday issued fresh directives to the Nigerian military and all security agencies to immediately scale-up their efforts and activities in Borno State in order to maintain a strong, effective control of the situation and secure lives and property.

“While commending the military for the progress already recorded with the rescue of some of the abducted, Prof. Osinbajo has also ordered the continuation of search and rescue missions to locate and ensure the freedom of all remaining abducted persons as soon as possible, using all available and expedient means in the circumstances,” he added.

But the Army on Saturday said it had not rescued anyone.

Mr. Osinbajo said justice would be pursued for the victims and against those who engage “in this kind of unacceptable, criminal and terrorist conduct”.

Acting President Osinbajo paid tribute to the resilience, courage and bravery of officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces for their gallant endeavours and sacrifices for the peace, security and territorial integrity of our country.

He eulogised the Nigerian soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in this mission and others linked to the current insurgency, and gives a firm assurance that the welfare of the families of the soldiers will be prioritized and commended the diligence of the management and staff of the NNPC, and the lecturers/consultants from the University of Maiduguri in pursuing Federal Government’s resolve to grow our country’s current crude oil reserve base through potential exploration in the Lake Chad Basin, stressing that the government will by no means be dissuaded.

He said: “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”.