At least 48 corpses have been recovered after Boko Haram terrorists ambushed oil exploration workers in the Lake Chad Basin, ThisDay is reporting.
ThisDay, quoting sources, said 48 bodies of the victims of the attack were deposited at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) mortuary.
It said that 18 soldiers, 15 Civilian JTF members, 5 staff of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) and 4 Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) driver were among the deceased.
The report added that 6 persons who had escaped the ambush with injuries were found dead in Yobe state.
Nigerian Army gives Different Fatality Figure
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, in a statement on Wednesday, said that an officer, eight soldiers and a civilian, died in the incident, a claim that is different from reports in mainstream media.
Usman added that the Nigerian Army had rescued all the NNPC staff kidnapped by the terrorists.
Usman said the corpses had been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
“Suspected Boko Haram terrorists ambushed the escort and team of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) staff returning from oil exploration at Barno Yasu, Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno on Tuesday.
On receipt of the information, the Brigade mobilised and sent reinforcement, search and rescue party that included the Armed Forces Special Forces and guides that worked and pursued the terrorists throughout the night.
So far, they have rescued all the NNPC staff and recovered the corpses of the Officer, 8 soldiers and a civilian who have been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
The team recovered 4 vehicles one of which include a gun truck mounted with an Anti-Aircraft Gun,two white Hilux taken away from NNPC staff and one blue Hilux belonging to CJTF.
The team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans containing Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant, assorted drugs, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making materials, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others.
The team also neutralised many of the terrorists,” the army spokesman said.
According to him, the troops are not relenting in the pursuit, search and rescue effort.
Premium Times reports that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) UNIMAID chapter confirmed that 5 of its members died in the attack and 4 others are still missing.
Osinbajo Orders Service Chiefs to return to Maiduguri
On Thursday evening, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at an emergency meeting in the State House, Abuja, told the service chiefs to relocate to the Command and Control Centre of Nigerian Defence in Maiduguri to monitor operations from there.
NNPC Suspends Exploration Activities
Daily Trust reports that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, & Chairman of the NNPC Group Ibe Kachikwu, has announced the indefinite suspension of crude oil exploration in the region.
Kachikwu, who said that the NNPC was cleared by security agencies to begin exploration in the area, also commiserated with families of the deceased.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in November 2016 directed that oil exploration begins in the Lake Chad basin region after it was suspended in 2012 due to Boko Haram’s activities.
Governor Shettima of Borno condemns Attack
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno, has condemned the attack in a statement issued on Thursday in Maiduguri by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Malam Isa Gusau.
He said that since he first got information concerning the attack on his way to visit President Muhammadu Buhari in London, he hasn’t been his normal self and is yet to recover from the shock of the attack.
“I haven’t been myself normal self since I received information of that attack. What happened in the first instance was a tragic setback in the fight against Boko Haram and in Nigeria’s effort to expand its economic fortunes. I am deeply pained by this incident especially coming at a time when we were beginning to pick up the pieces of our lives,” Shettima said.
He added: “Even though the attack should never have happened given the successes recorded by the military and multi-national joint forces since 2015, I nonetheless still deem it necessary to commend the military for re-mobilising and countering the initial gains of the insurgents. On behalf of government and people of Borno State, I mourn and salute the soldiers and our sons in the civilian JTF who paid the supreme price by giving their lives in this fight.”
Shettima expressed sadness over the development and commiserated with their families and loved ones.