By Adejumo Kabir
The recent killing of over a hundred Nigerian soldiers during an attack on an army base in Metele, Borno State on November 18 is an “isolated” incident and does not mean the insurgents are having a upper hand, the presidency has said.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how fighters of the terror group killed about 118 soldiers and went away with arms of the Nigerian Army battalion in Metele, Borno State.
The attack has been condemned by security analysts and many Nigerians who wondered what happened to the $1 billion released in April for firearms.
It took President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Army several days to react to the attack after furious recriminations amongst Nigerians gained traction online.
Rather than provide a specific figure of the casualty, the army used most part of its first statement on the incident to attack the media.
Mr Buhari while reacting expressed deep shock on the attack and therefore summoned defence chiefs.
The Nigerian Senate adjourned its session last Thursday to mourn the fallen soldiers.
However, while speaking about the attack on Channels TV Sunday Politics interview, Mr Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the recent attack was a mere breach and does not mean Boko Haram has not been defeated.
“Nigeria, we can say, is at war in that side of the country. For some time, things had eased, Nigerian Army had had the upper hand, and like the term goes, the insurgents had been technically defeated,” Mr Adesina said.
Asked of the accuracy of the statement on Boko Haram being technically defeated, he said: “I believe so. That (the recent attack) was maybe a breach in security but it does not mean that Boko Haram is having the upper hand. And like the president said in the statement we issued yesterday, we will still get to the end of this Boko Haram insurgency.
“This is one isolated case after a long time of the military being in charge. The military has been in charge for a long while. I agree with you this is a breach. It is sad and it is unfortunate. But then, it does not mean that Boko Haram is now in charge. They are not”.
He also declined to give the number of soldiers killed.
“There’s this sudden upsurge and there’s that casualty figure which I do not know but which people say is on the high side. The military is the one that can tell us what actually happened,” he said.
The latest attack in Metele followed months of heavy losses of both personnel and equipment which the insurgents inflicted on the Nigerian military since resuming their latest campaign in July.
Worried about the rising cases of missing soldiers in Boko Haram attack, the chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, issued a warning to troops on the battlefront against fleeing from the insurgents in August, threatening errant personnel with prosecution.
The Defence Headquarters announced last week it had taken new delivery of military equipment, boasting of a tough time ahead for the insurgents.