By George Ogala
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep shock over the killing of military personnel in Metele village of Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists, assuring at the same time that immediate measures are being taken to ensure that the loopholes which led to the fatalities are blocked once and for all.
The president’s reaction, coming about a week after the unfortunate incident, was conveyed via a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday night by a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu.
Mr Shehu said, “Reacting to the tragic incident, the President said that his administration remains ever committed and focused on the security of military personnel and other citizens.
“According to President Buhari, “No responsible Commander-in-Chief would rest on his oars or fold his hands to allow terrorists to endanger the lives of its military personnel and other citizens. Our loyal forces have proved their strength over the terrorists and we are ready to give them all the needed support in terms of equipment and manpower to succeed in ending the renewed threat. In the coming days, I am engaging the Military and Intelligence Chiefs in extensive discussions on the next steps we shall be taking.”
“The President noted that fighting terrorism has taken a global dimension, which necessitates international collaboration among states facing similar security challenges.
“President Buhari reassured Nigerians of his continued commitment to their security and of his efforts to sustain the momentum in the previous significant successes recorded against the terrorists.
“He, however, advised Nigerians against making a political capital out of national tragedy, stressing that members of the armed forces are one family who are commonly committed to the security and safety of all Nigerians.”
At least 118 soldiers and officers were killed when the terrorist Boko Haram sect attacked Nigeria’s 157 Task Force Battalion in Borno State on November 18.
Military insiders also told PREMIUM TIMES that 153 soldiers remained missing in action as of Saturday morning, nearly a week after the incident.
Those killed in the attack included the commander of the battalion, whom PREMIUM TIMES identified on November 20 as a lieutenant colonel.
The second-in-command to the commander, the intelligence officer of the battalion and two other officers also died in the attack, which occurred at about 6:00 p.m. last Sunday.
Despite widespread condemnation and mourning that greeted the killings, the military has so far failed to explain what led to the loss of such a high number of troops in one attack.
Rather than explain details of the incident, and what it is doing to curtail further attacks, the Nigerian Army devoted a large part of its statement to bashing the media.
“Whilst it is true that there was an attack” on the Nigerian Army 157 Task Force Battalion on November 18, 2018, it has “become necessary to correct several misinformation being circulated with regards to this unfortunate event,” the Army said in a statement on its Twitter handle Friday night.
The Army said, “several social media, print and online publications have been brandishing false casualty figures as well as circulating various footages of old and inaccurate” Boko Haram “propaganda videos and alluding same to be the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion.
“Whilst it is understandable how such misinformation can spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists; to misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not,” it said.