BORNO State Police Command on Saturday confirmed that the Friday ambush on the convoy of Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno by members of Boko Haram left 11 security personnel dead and 13 others injured.
There were reports on Friday just after the attack that about 18 security personnel including eight police officers, six soldiers, and four operatives of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) were killed by terrorists during the attack.
But Edet Okon, Spokesperson of Borno State Police Command told The ICIR that eight policemen and three members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) died in the attack that occurred at Korochara, between Monguno and Baga, Kukawa Local Government Area, about 150 kilometres from the state capital, Maiduguri.
“On 25th September 2020 at about 12 pm, the security convoy who were heading to Baga in respect of Government’s effort to relocate indigenes of Baga to their ancestral home came under heavy gun attack by armed men suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists a few Kilometers from Cross Kauwa,” Okon stated.
“The security convoy returned fire and successfully repelled the attack. In the ensuing gunfight, however, casualties were recorded on both sides. Unfortunately, eight Policemen and three members of the CJTF paid the supreme price. Thirteen other persons sustained various degrees of injuries and were rushed to hospital for treatment.”
He however did not mention the number of soldiers that died in the shootout between the terrorists and government’s troops.
Sagir Musa, Army Spokesperson was also contacted for verification. Over three hours after the inquiry, he referred this reporter to John Enenche, Coordinator of Defence Media Operation.
But Enenche could not respond. He simply advised the reporter to make do with whatever news release signed by him, though no such statement was found on official news channels of the Army.
“Don’t verify any news. Whatever news you heard signed by me is enough. That’s why I’m being careful,” he said. “Information about defence is too much for me to manage as it were. So, please bear with me.”
He insisted he does not speak outside issued press releases. “Bear with the armed forces, please,” he added.
As of the time of filing this report, the Army Headquarters were yet to make any official statement on the number of casualties suffered in the attack.
The ICIR visited the official website of the Nigerian Army to verify if it had released official information in respect to the insurgent attack but the most recent statement was issued on March 20, 2020.
The verified Twitter handle of the Army @HQNigerianArmy also contains no such information on the Friday attack on the Governor’s convoy.
The information posted on its verified social media account on Friday was about Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, s assessment of troops’ accommodation as well as construction work at the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Maiduguri the state capital.
Reports say the governor was in Baga from Thursday to Friday to supervise efforts to return displaced residents to the fishing community on the shores of Lake Chad with waterways to neighbouring countries when a convoy of security operatives was ambushed despite precautionary measures taken to ensure safety.
Zulum had in July faced a similar attack in Baga after which he accused the military of compromise.
“You have been here for over one year now, there are 1,181 soldiers here; if you cannot take over Baga which is less than 5km from your base, then we should forget about Baga. I will inform the Chief of Army Staff to redeploy the men to other places that they can be useful,” Zulum stated while expressing his concerns.
The Nigerian Governor’s Forum, chaired by Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State also expressed displeasure over the attack. The incident, Fayemi noted proved vulnerability of the nation’s security architecture.
The insurgent attack in Borno State, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has so far displaced over 2 million persons within the country.
Several casualties have also been reported though, the Federal Government claimed to have technically won over the Boko Haram insurgents.
Bello Makwashi, the State Commissioner for Police, however, restated his commitment to protecting lives and properties in the state.