We Watched Gamboru Massacre; Superiors Told Us To Stand Down, Soldier Tells BBC

May 22, 2014


A Nigerian soldier currently serving in Borno state has alleged that members of the Boko Haram attacked Gamboru Ngala in their presence but that their commander instructed them not to repel the insurgents.

The soldier who did not want to be named told the BBC Hausa Service that apart from foot soldiers, choppers were seen hovering in the air while the attacks were ongoing, but no assistance was rendered to the people.

Gamboru Ngala, a neighbouring community in the Nigeria-Cameroon border was attacked on May 5 where over 300 people were killed with many houses and a market completely razed down.

The soldier said: “What I saw the day the attack took place really surprised me. Not only me, even my other colleagues were surprised, and we were all afraid. We entered Gamboru Ngala town few minutes to 5pm, we heard loud sounds and saw thick smokes from around the Gamboru market.

“We then realized that it was the market that was set ablaze. As we got to our camp at Gamboru, before our commander went to his office, he told the soldiers that nobody should dare go close to the town.
“He further said an all-round defence be deployed to guard our camp. But even when we were coming, we saw that soldiers with armoured tanks and all the weapons, police and members of Civilian JTF had already surrounded our camp,” he said.
The soldier said “Instead of him to direct us to go and face the insurgents, since we’re soldiers who know how to attack them, and the Civilian JTF are from the town who know where we would follow to enter the town so that the insurgents would not see us,” that was not done.

Asked if he suspected any foul play, the soldier said: “Exactly, we thought it was a set up. If he had allowed us to go into Gamboru town, I’m sure no member of Boko Haram would have escaped that day, because we soldiers were more than 200, and the Civilian JTF told us that only about 50 of the insurgents had guns. But we were shocked when our CO asked us not to go.”

The soldier also said that the Boko Haram insurgency could only be tackled if their “superiors remove their hands from the matter.”

“If our superiors don’t remove their hands from this issue, I can assure you the Boko Haram insurgency would not be tackled. We saw a chopper right at the point the insurgents were operating giving them cover.
“We learnt those in the chopper were instructed to attack the armoured tank brought by the insurgents, but that was not done. If they didn’t allow us to face the insurgents, why didn’t the chopper attack? That is where you’ll see complicity clearly,” he added.

However, chairman of the National Information Centre on security and Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri, said the allegations were baseless.

“You know Nigerian soldiers are experts; they know what they’re doing. If they ever get such information, they immediately swing into action and do the right thing.

“We heard about the incident of Gamboru Ngala that soldiers were initially told about the attack. But we later discovered it wasn’t true. I am sure whatever comes to our soldiers, they investigate to see what it is and tackle it,” he said.