by Abdulkareem Haruna,
The Nigerian Army on Saturday said it regretted issuing out false statement about last week’s ambush attack on a crew of scientists who were carrying out geological survey for the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Last week, a group of geologists from the University of Maiduguri as well as their aides who were subcontracted by NNPC to engage in oil exploration in Lake Chad region were ambushed and abducted by Boko Haram gunmen.
About 24 hours later, the army issued a statement that 9 soldiers lost their lives while all the kidnapped NNPC workers were rescued.
That claim turned out to be false.
Facts revealed that none of the UNIMAID scientists and their aides were rescued. Five of them were brought into Maiduguri dead. Three others later appeared in a video released on Friday by Boko Haram in which they called on the federal government to secure their release.
The military casualty and that of the CJTF was also much higher.
In a fresh statement issued on Saturday, the army spokesman, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, said the earlier misleading statement was regrettable.
He said more corpses comprising five soldiers, 11 Civilian-JTF and five explorations workers were further recovered by military search and rescue team.
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PREMIUM TIMES had reported the death of 12 CJTF members and five university staff whose corpses were all recovered.
The university vice chancellor has since confirmed the death of its five officials and said four are still missing.
Read Mr. Usman’s full statement below.
“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 2 of our own Gun trucks and an additional Toyota Buffalo Gun truck from the insurgents. In addition, the team also made the following recoveries; 4 Rocket Propelled Grenade Bombs, 4 Rocket Propelled Grenade chargers, 6 AK-47 rifles, 1 Anti-Aircraft Gun, 1 General Purpose Machine Gun,1 Anti-Aircraft Gun Barrel, 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, 4 Dane Guns, 8 Tyres and 2 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”.