Soldiers Kill TCN Staff, Injure Three Mistaken For Insurgents

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By Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri

Soldiers deployed to Benesheik, one of the towns seriously affected by Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, on Saturday mistook a military-escorted team of Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, staff for insurgents and opened fire, killing one of them and injuring three others, including two soldiers.

The firm’s team was in the town to help restore electricity to parts of the state.

Ibrahim Garba, a staff of the company confirmed the incident to journalists on Sunday in Maiduguri, the state capital.

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“The incident occurred when our staff accompanied by the military, who went to repair a transmission line near Benesheik, were opened fire on by the military personnel attached to Benesheik who thought they were insurgents,” Garba said, adding that two of the company’s vehicles were destroyed in the attack.

“In the gunshot our driver was killed and three other persons injured including two soldiers”.

Garba said the injured persons are being treated in a hospital but that one of the drivers was missing.

Lack of electricity is one of the numerous problems residents of Borno State have had to grapple with since the insurgency began six years.

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In 2014, a large part of the state was without electricity for about six months, as it was impossible to rectify the problem, especially as the insurgents laid siege to Damboa, where transmission lines run through.

About five week ago, five soldiers lost their lives when the vehicle they were traveling in along Maiduguri/Damboa stepped on a landmine, as they escorted a team of engineers to fix power installations.

Saturday’s mishap has not gone down well with residents of the state, who questioned the soldiers’ inability to differentiate their men from insurgents.

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“We have never heard of the insurgents mistaking themselves and engaging each other in gunshots why should our soldiers be making this grievous mistake?” Abba Aisami, a resident complained.

“This is an indication that there is no proper coordination among the military, if not, how can they send a team from Maiduguri without communicating with their counterpart in Benesheik?” he queried.