Nigerian Military Covers Up Killing Of Soldiers By Boko Haram


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The icirnigeria.org can authoritatively report that, contrary to claims by the military authorities, scores of Nigerian soldiers were, indeed, killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Gudumbali in Borno State on Wednesday, November 18, 2015.

Information at the disposal of this website, including a video clip of the aftermath of the Gudumbali attack, indicates that only 147 of 330 soldiers have been accounted for by the Nigerian Army, with the others either missing, killed or fleeing without re-joining the battalion.

The military has denied that any soldier was killed or is unaccounted for after the attack, insisting that some of them who initially got missing had re-joined their battalion.

Premium Times, Nigeria’s leading online newspaper, had exclusively reported on November 19, 2015 that at least 105 soldiers, including the commanding officer, from the 157 Battalion were missing after the attack on their location in Gudumbali by insurgents.

What really happened?

A reliable military source told the icirnigeria.org that the army knew that Gudumbali was in Boko Haram territory but deployed only 330 soldiers instead of a full-strength battalion of at least 600 soldiers.

According to one of the 147 survivors, who cannot be named to avoid being punished, the soldiers were caught unawares by the Boko Haram fighters.

“They came very early in the morning and many of us had no time to get ourselves together,” he said.

He added that despite the fact that they were taken by surprise, a costly mistake by the troops led to the large casualty suffered. According to him, the extra ammunition the battalion went with was kept in a Hilux van at some distance from the soldiers, making it impossible for them to reach with the barrage of bullets coming from the insurgents.

“Before we knew it, they had almost surrounded us.”

He said that troops could only engage the insurgents as long as the ammunition on them lasted, after which they had to flee.

According to the soldier, contrary to reports, no T-72 tank was captured. He said two T-72 tanks were provided to the battalion but one developed fault on the way and was withdrawn.

During the battle, the remaining tank was reportedly hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, which led to the fainting of the three occupiers – the commander, gunner and driver – who had locked themselves inside. The insurgents, the source said, abandoned it after some failed attempts to open it.

After the attack, the source said only 147 soldiers were accounted for.

He added, however, that not all the remaining 183 soldiers unaccounted for were killed because some of them took the decision to desert the army as soon as they made it to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

The video clip

(A decision was taken not to go public with the video because of the gory images in it and in respect for the families of the fallen soldiers)

In the video clip obtained by this website, a burnt military truck is seen with eleven dead soldiers lying close to it. Four of the soldiers were badly burnt. There is no evidence that the truck was hit by a bomb or rocket as the whole frame of the vehicle, including the chasis, is intact but the front compartment where the driver sits was apparently the brunt of the attack as it was badly burnt.

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According to one the officer who provided it, the video was recorded two days after the attack by the Army Public Relations unit when the military went to see the extent of damage done and evacuate the bodies.

While the video has no audio, the content suggests that the location is a military zone.

From the clip, there are trenches dug, suggesting that the soldiers were based there.

Also, a wallet is seen close to one of the soldiers, with the contents emptied. Among the contents are pieces of papers, passport photograph and an ATM card.

Prayer beads and mats can be seen close to the soldiers. Also, a cup is seen by the side of one of the corpses while a blanket and an adaptor lay on a camp bed. These, perhaps, confirm what a survivor said that soldiers were taken unawares.

Close to the camp bed, there is a 25 litres jerry can with the words “CO boys” written on it. CO in the military means Commanding Officer.

Toothpaste, body cream, food flask, cup, camp beds, blankets, packets of cigarette all appear in the clip.

At least three soldiers were present when the video was taken. Apart from the person behind the camera, a soldier with a rifle raises a blanket in front of the camera and appears to say something. Another soldier can be seen standing not far from the burnt truck.

About 100 metres away, two army trucks are seen packed on the road, probably the vehicles that conveyed the crew to Gudumbali.

Lies and cover up by the army

This website learnt that the army also denied the reports of the killing of the soldiers to the presidency when enquiries were made about the incident. It was gathered, however, that the presidency did eventually confirm the killings from the leadership of .a federal government agency that works closely with the military in the North east.

The families of the dead soldiers, this website also learnt, are being kept in the dark about the deaths of their sons because the military does not know how to tell them without the information getting out in the press.

“They (dead soldiers) are most likely being treated as MIAs (missing in action), which means the families can wait for as long as one year before being officially informed of the killings. The families will be able to receive their monthly salaries while the military wait to break the news,” the source disclosed.

Attempts to get the army to speak on the discoveries failed as Usman declined commenting on the matter. He has consistently refused to answer questions regarding military operations in the North east from this website.

Late last week when our reporter called his mobile phone it went unanswered and a text message hinting him of the information at our disposal and requesting for a meeting was ignored by the army spokesman.

However, when the Premium Times story first broke, the army, in attempting to deny the report and discredit the newspaper, only succeeded in contradicting itself.

Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, and then spokesperson of 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Tukur Ismail Gusau, both Colonels, refused to comment before the report was published by the newspaper but immediately it became public, the former reluctantly confirmed the attack and added that details would be made known at a press conference later in the day.

During that press conference, the then General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Division, Yushau Abubakar, a Major General, confirmed the attacked adding that there were casualties on both sides.

“Yes, we went to Gudumbali and we were attacked and we repelled them and we are currently sorting out the situation. In war anything can happen and the operation is ongoing,” Abubakar told journalists in Maiduguri.

Curiously, however, later in the same day, the army issued a statement calling the Premium Times report “the imagination of those sympathetic to Boko Haram ways of life.”

“The attention of the Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole was drawn to an online media publication saying troops of 157 Task Force Battalion were overran by the Boko Haram terrorists in Guzamala axis of Borno state and that several personnel were killed and several others cannot be accounted for including the Commanding Officer of the Unit,” the statement issued by Usman read.

He did not mind the fact that the report did not say any soldier was killed.

Again, later in the day, Usman issued another statement saying the attack was a minor setback that is common in military operations.

From all indications the military high command is maintaining its stand that the soldiers have re-joined the brigade. One soldier conjectured the military is taking this stand because it believes that the news of the death of the men would demoralise others in the war front.

But one of the soldiers who spoke to our reporter said that it is the cover up by the army that is actually demoralising the fighting men who feel that if they die in active service, the same thing could happen to them with their family members left in the dark about their fate.

The soldiers are also miffed that while their dead colleagues are being treated as missing in action, “one oga is enjoying it as he is collecting the operations allowance of the killed men.”

In December, 2015, a non governmental organisation, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, called on the military authorities to investigate the killing s and the alleged secret burial of 105 soldiers originally reported to be missing after the attack.

The organisation called for the probe after media reports that the bodies of the dead soldiers were taken to Maiduguri where they were quietly buried. A statement by the National Coordinator Emmanuel Onwibiko, and the media director of HURIWA, Zainab Yusuf, said that the investigative panel to probe the soldiers burial be made up of members from the United Nations, Africa Union, Economic Community of West African States, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, National Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, Red Crescent, faith based bodies and the military.

It is doubtful that the military will set up any probe panel to investigate the burial of the soldiers as it insists that the soldiers have re – joined their battalion.

 

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  • Colonel SK Usman, Acting Director Army Public Relations

    There is no doubt that this is a hatchet job aimed at discrediting the Nigerian Army for reasons best known to you. We have always been open and transparent. We also take the safety and security of our troops very seriously same with their welfare and general well being. Your calculated attempt to cast the Army to demoralize our troops and make room for resurgence of terrorism and indurgency, will certainly fall flat on your faces. I take exception to the lies that I did not respond to phone calls or text messages to me.

    • admin

      Thank you Col S.K. Usman for your reaction to our story. But, as is usual to Nigerian public officials, it came after the fact. First, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting is a responsible and internationally reputable news organisation and we do not do hatchet jobs as you alleged. Also, our publishing the report was borne out of a sense of patriotism and responsibility. The job of a journalist is to present the truth to the public and that is exactly what we did in our report. We published the story because we saw the need to tell the truth about what happened to our gallant soldiers in Gudumbali. As we said in the report, we have a video clip of the soldiers who were killed. We held back on using it for the sake of the dead soldiers families. Rather than address the detailed facts we presented or put a lie to any aspect of our story, you just make ridiculous allegations. Which lies? Did Boko Haram kill Nigerian soldiers in Gudumbali or not? Has the Army told the families of the fallen soldiers of their fate? What is happening to the allowances of your dead colleagues?
      And, you also alleged that we lied by saying that you did not take our calls of respond to our text messages. We called you on January 25 (1.39pm) and then sent a text when you did not pick your calls. You were told that we were working on lots of stories with military intelligence components and requested for a chat/meeting. You ignored the text.
      We are patriotic Nigerians. We are also responsible journalists with a duty to provide the public facts and true information about governance. We will continue to do our job diligently. We hope that the military will start to tell Nigerians and, indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari, the true situation about the war against terror.

  • jopex

    The primary duty of every solder is to fight duRing war; that’s what they are trained to do, and in case it boomerang on them, that’s what they signed for, every job had it’s oWn hazard, let’s us not start passing abusive words across to one another; our solders are heros… God will be with their families.

  • idris kambra

    sometimes the Nigerian army are doing well but in terms of saying the truth they make insensible lies.

  • amah

    Kola you av said it all.

  • Sam

    Ola i think your stance is so naive yout didnt even reason that people involved are soneones husband perent etc and again you fail to appreciate this government has no value for our soldiers life they are sending them anyhow to achieve thier socalled deadline

  • Mikky

    It is a pity that soldiers are wasted for one man’s initial ambition. Yes their families have to be pulled outa the dark and the suspense be removed.

  • dman17

    I think the media is trying to expose some wrong tactics embarked upon by the generals at the expense of the lives of no choice soldiers. if the wrong tactics can be cub on time, less casualties can be conceded on the part of Nigeria army.

  • kola

    kola
    Olaoluwa, u talked as if you are brave-hearted man but people like u, d sound of a misfiring car on d road will send them scampering for safety, i pity u, callous and feeling-less fellow.

  • Ikechukwu

    This is our country for christ sake.they should make every thing public.no gallant soldier is good to die for his country without befiting buria.who is fooling who here.when the chibok girls went missing,it was talk of the time now is our soldiers and it’ll be something of some individual!

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  • Olaoluwa

    So when it is made public,what do you want the the public to do with it.Do you want them to be more fearful or to have more hope.So what,1000s of the Nigeria military died,for christ sake…they are fighting a war…..and people die during wars…Whose fault is that?

    We dont want to see the video….Let the military be,let them do their job without distractions.When the war is all over,we will count the dead.

    • dman17

      @olaoluwa
      I think the media is trying to expose some wrong tactics embarked upon by the generals at the expense of the lives of no choice soldiers. if the wrong tactics can be cub on time, less casualties can be conceded on the part of Nigeria army.

    • TRUTH

      If your close relatives were to be among the killed soldiers, would you have reacted this way?