THE Nigerian army lost only 39 soldiers in a number of Boko Haram attacks in the last two or three months, says former spokesman Sani Usman.
Usman made this known in a statement he issued on Wednesday on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, in response to the reports that over one hundred soldiers were killed by Boko Haram in the attacks.
He maintained that “since 2015; the Nigerian Army in conjunction with sister services and other security agencies have systematically degraded the capabilities and capacity of Boko Haram terrorists and many successes were achieved”.
“However, in the last 2 to 3 months, we have noticed daring moves by the terrorists, increased use of drones against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks.
“Specifically; the Nigerian Army troops deployed at Kukawa, Ngoshe, Kareto and Gajiram came under attack at different times within a 2-week period between November 2 and 17, 2018; each of these incidents was successfully repelled and several members of the terrorists killed.
“However, a total of 16 personnel were killed in the course of these attacks while 12 soldiers wounded in action and are receiving treatment at our military medical facilities.
“One of the Nigerian battalions; 157 Task Force Battalion, deployed under the auspices of the MNJTF was attacked at their Base on the outskirts of a town called Metele on November 18, 2018.
“During the attack, the troops were forced to withdraw and several casualties were recorded. As at date 23 personnel were killed in action and 31 personnel wounded and have been evacuated to several medical hospitals within Borno State.”
While condoling with the families of the deceased soldiers, Usman noted that the new tactics being employed by the terrorists has prompted the army leadership to continually review its operations to come up with ways to better deal with the challenges.
He said the recent attacks on army formations in Borno State was what necessitated the change of venue for the 2018 annual Chief of Army Staff conference from Benin City, Edo State, to Maiduguri. This is “to enable the Nigerian Army leadership get closer to the troops on the ground and to better appraise our activities, assess our performance and identify our shortcomings as an Army”.
It took over five days and a barrage of news reports for the Nigeria Army authorities to acknowledge the Boko Haram attacks on Metele and other army positions in the North East. And when the authorities did issue a statement, they were silent on the number of casualties, saying only that the attacks were repelled.
But some of the soldiers who survived the attacks told newsmen on condition of anonymity that they were outnumbered and outarmed by the insurgents that attacked them. One said he had to pull of his uniform and ran for his life, while another said the attackers made away with a large cache of arms and ammunition belonging to the army.
During a television interview last Sunday, Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, tried to justify the silence by the army leadership over the recent Boko Haram attacks. He said that it was standard practice all over the world for the military to disclose casualty figures.
But that claim was invalidated in a report by the ICIR, following leads provided by Anna Cunningham, a freelance journalist with France 24. The report showed that several developed countries, including The United Kingdom, United States of America, and France, have dedicated websites where an updated list of deceased soldiers are published on a regular basis.