Nigerian troops participating in ongoing clearance operation of Boko Haram terrorists in the North East say they have recovered the bodies of some of its personnel who were hitherto declared missing in action.
Theatre Commander of the operation, Lucky Irabor, disclosed this on Wednesday during the weekly press conference held at the Military Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Irabor said the bodies were recovered on January 5 after the troops in conjunction with the Civilian JTF conducted clearance operation along Damasak – Gashigar road, successfully clearing “Duoma, Asaga, Gashigar and other surrounding villages.”
He said: “At Asaga village, our troops encountered and dislodged some BHT elements.”
Subsequently, the troops recovered corpses of one officer and 15 soldiers earlier declared Missing in Action during their dislodgment from Gashigar on 16 Oct 16.
“The corpses were recovered along Kamadugou River line. Among the recovered corpses was that of Lt Col K Yusuf, the former Commanding Officer of 223 Tank Battalion.”
Irabor added that the army personnel “have since been buried in Maimalari Cantonment Cemetery with full military honours.”
The army commander told the press conference that the army has conducted several clearance operations within the last one week, adding that several terrorists were killed in the process and lots more arrested.
He noted that the operation had also recorded some fatalities and injuries on the part of the troops.
“On 7 Jan 2017 at about 1625hrs, following reports of BHT attempting to regroup, our troops embarked on clearance operation and established contact with BHT elements at WULGE village.
“Fire fight ensued which resulted to 11 BHT killed in action while 9 others were captured.
“However, one soldier was wounded in action (while) the captured BHT are undergoing interrogation,” he said.
On another occasion which took place on January 8, Irabor said “own troops in conjunction with CJTF conducted clearance operation to Metele village and encountered pockets of BHT which were successfully cleared.”
“The troops also cleared all identified BHT hideouts from Dogon Chuku toward Tumbun Rago.
“During the operation, 6 BHT were killed in action while 2 of our soldiers were wounded in action.
“The wounded soldiers are currently receiving treatment in our medical facility in Baga.”
In yet another encounter with the insurgents and perhaps the one that recorded the most number of casualties, Irabor narrated how, on the same January 8, at a village called Bulakesa “the troops successfully cleared the BHT with support from Air Component and dominated the village.”
“Sadly, an officer and 4 soldiers were killed in action while 3 other soldiers were wounded.
“A total of 50 BHT were killed in action while 3 AK47 rifles and several weapons and grenade were recovered from the BHT.
“Also, 9 BHT adults and 18 minors were arrested during the operation,” he said.
Irabor also told journalists how the army identified one of the abducted Chibok girls, Rakiya Abubakar, and her 6 months old baby boy named Abdullahi, during profiling of some rescued Boko Haram victims at Ajigin-Talala general area.
“I handed them over to the Borno State Governor same day at about 1900hrs at the Borno State Government House here in Maiduguri,” he said.
The Army commander added that “a total of 119 Nigerian IDPs were handed over to our troops at Banki by the Cameroonian forces.”
“The IDPs comprised 20 male adults, 25 female adults and 74 children. They were screened and moved to the IDP camp.”
Irabor concluded the press conference by urging the media and the general public to continue to support the military “as we work to win the peace.”
“Winning the peace is a process,” he said, “I urge you to leave the ranks of noise and distraction. Join to add value qualitatively.”