It is now clear that some Boko Haram terrorists ambushed team members of the World Food Programme (WFP) who were conveying relief materials — mainly food items — to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in a remote village in Borno State.
The team was accompanied by a convoy of security operatives, made up mostly of soldiers, to provide protection for the aid workers along the dangerous roads.
What is not clear, however, is the casualty toll of the unfortunate attack, whether on the side of the attackers, the soldiers or the civilian members of the WFP team.
According to Adedeji Ademigbuji, WFP’s Communication Officer, Maiduguri area office, four persons were killed in the attack, including a driver of one of the food trucks and his assistant.
“WFP can confirm that a convoy escorted by the Nigerian military, including WFP hired trucks, was the subject of an attack by armed groups 35km southwest of Ngala in Borno State on Saturday (16 December),” Ademigbuji said in a statement.
“Four people, including the driver of a WFP-hired truck and a driver’s assistant, were killed in the incident. WFP extends its condolences to the bereaved families.
“WFP is working with the authorities to determine the whereabouts of the trucks.”
The Nigerian Army, however, provided an entirely different account from that of the WFP.
Rogers Nicholas, Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, said no civilian was killed in the attack, adding that on the contrary, it was the soldiers that killed six of the insurgents and recovered several weapons.
“There was an ambush but the soldiers killed six Boko Haram insurgents and recovered weapons. No civilian was killed. I was in Dikwa that Saturday and this happened while I was within,” Nicholas said.
WHO ARE NIGERIANS TO BELIEVE?
It’s hard to tell at once which party to believe. But history hardly lies, does it?
Few hours after the kidnap of almost 300 Chibok schoolgirls, Chris Olukolade, then Director of Defence Information, told newsmen that all but eight of the girls had been rescued.
In his statement titled ‘More Students Of Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok Freed; Normalcy Returns To Wukari’, Olukolade said: “More of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State have this afternoon been freed as troops pursuing the terrorists close in on the den of those believed to have carried out the attack.
“With this development, the Principal of the school has confirmed that only eight of the students are still missing. One of the terrorists who carried out the attack on the school has also been captured.”
Well… it turned out that none of the Chibok girls had been rescued or freed. It took the persistent cries of the parents of the abducted students, amplified by the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign, led by Oby Ezekwesili, for the military to recant their earlier position.
Today, three and a half years after the abduction. the number of girls still in captivity are more than the eight originally claimed by Olukolade. More than 100 of the girls are still with insurgents.
JUST SIX MONTHS AGO…
More recently, precisely in July, Boko Haram insurgents ambushed a team of oil explorers commissioned by the NNPC to search for crude oil in the Lake Chad Basin. Almost 50 persons, including soldiers, were killed in the ambush, and several others abducted.
But Sani Usman, the Army Spokesman, told Nigerians that all the kidnapped NNPC personnel had been rescued, and that only 10 persons — an army officer, eight soldiers and one civilian — were killed in the ambush.
“On receipt of the information, the Brigade mobilized and sent reinforcement, search and rescue party that include the Armed Forces Special Forces and guides that worked and pursued the terrorists throughout the night,” Usman stated.
“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.”
Hardly had Usman released his statement than Boko Haram released an online video showing three abducted NNPC staff pleading for their lives. They are still being held by the insurgents up till now.
On the evidence of these two examples, can we actually believe the Army rather than WFP?