The Defence Headquarters has faulted an allegation made by Amnesty International that military authorities had advance information of the attack on Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, but failed to take necessary action to prevent it.
Amnesty International said on Friday that it has damning testimonies from credible sources, that the Nigerian security forces had more than four hours of advance warning about the attack but did not do much to stop it.
“It amounts to a gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians, who remain sitting ducks for such attacks. The Nigerian leadership must now use all lawful means at their disposal to secure the girls’ safe release and ensure nothing like this can happen again,” Amnesty International’s Africa director, research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay, said.
But the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, said the claim by Amnesty International is unfounded, as troops in Maiduguri did not receive any forewarning about the attacks.
Olukolade said on the contrary, the troops received information of an ongoing attack on Chibok community from troops on patrol who on discovering the attack engaged the terrorists and called for more reinforcement to contain them.
“As the troops on reinforcement traversed the over 120km rugged and tortuous road from Maiduguri to Chibok, they ran into an ambush by terrorists who engaged them in fierce firefight and a number of soldiers lost their lives. Another set of soldiers also mobilized for the mission arrived after the terrorists had escaped due to a series of misleading information that slowed down the pursuit.”
The Defence spokesman stressed that the information received by troops at the Division Headquarters in Maiduguri was not a forewarning but the call for reinforcement by troops on patrol, adding that considering the vastness of the mission area, deployment has been more of patrols than static.
“The imputation of cowardice on the part of troops is particularly confounding as the military has internal mechanism to deal with such tendencies. These spurious allegations are obviously a continuation of the campaign intended to cause disaffection, portray the military in bad light and undermine the counter-terrorism efforts,” Olukolade stated.
The Defence Headquarters restated an earlier appealed to individuals and organisations to refrain from circulating spurious allegations that could undermine both the operation and investigation of into the attack.