By Olukayode Michael, Maiduguri
The Nigerian Army on Monday denied media reports indicating that it lost 23 men and eight vehicles in an ambush to Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday.
Some online and mainstream newspapers had earlier today claimed the soldiers suffered heavy human casualty following an ambush in Bama Local Goverment Area of Borno State on Saturday.
But on Monday morning, it said no soldier was missing in the ambush by suspected Boko Haram members in both Borno and Yobe State.
The Army claimed that rather than losing its men, 22 Boko Haram insurgents had been killed in crossfire.
The Army in a statement on Monday by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu said the report is not only misleading, but untrue, claiming that the incident was blown out of proportion by the media.
Chukwu said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to news making the round alleging attack on soldiers and capturing of military vehicles by Boko Haram in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to state categorically that the report is not only untrue but misleading as the said report is blown out of proportion by the media.
“Contrary to the report, the Nigerian Army wishes to put the record straight on the issue and assure members of the public particularly residents of the North East to disregard the report as their safety is guaranteed.
“The Nigeria Army wishes to state that there was an attempted attack on troops at Kwakwa and Chingori communities in Bama area of Borno State by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists as a result of difficult terrain where our vehicles bugged down. The terrorists also attempted to cart away troops operational vehicles, but were successfully repelled by our gallant troops with the support of the Nigerian Air Force.
“About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised while several others escaped with gunshot wounds. Efforts are being intensified by the troops to get the fleeing members of the Boko Haram terrorists.
“Unfortunately, one officer and a soldier sustained injuries and are currently receiving medical attention at the military medical facility.
“While the Nigerian Army would not join issues with the media, certain facts must be reported with caution particularly now that numerous successes have been recorded by the troops in the fight against insurgency.
“Members of the public are hereby advised to disregard the report and go about their legitimate businesses as the Nigerian Army is on top of the situation.
“It is my well-thought-out opinion that in future, media practitioners should endeavour to verify facts from the appropriate military authority before rushing to the press.
On the attack in Yobe state, Chukwu, in another press release said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a publication on the front page of Daily Trust Newspaper of Monday, 16 July 2018 titled “BOKO HARAM OVERRUN MILITARY BASE IN YOBE, SOLDIERS MISSING”. In the said story, the report stated inter alia, that “over six hundred soldiers are still missing after suspected Boko Haram militants overran a military base in Yobe State”.
Chukwu said: “The Nigerian Army wishes to state categorically that the report is not only untrue but capable of misleading members of the general public.
“The write-up further alleged that about 100 of the troops that disappeared from the base in Jilli after the clash have reported in Geidam town but very few of them had their weapons with them.”
He added that: “Contrary to the report, the Army wishes to state that, although the base was attacked by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, troops reorganised and successfully repelled the attack and normalcy has since returned to the area. Also, all the troops in the base were accounted for contrary to the report.”
He said: “Consequently, the Nigerian Army wishes to state that the fight against Boko Haram Terrorists in the North Eastern parts of the country is yielding positive result that lead to the return of some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their ancestral homes.
“The Nigerian Army therefore advised members of the public particularly residents of the affected areas to go about their legitimate businesses and disregard the said report as the Nigerian Army will continue to protect lives and property of citizens at all times.
“The Nigerian Army also call on the media to always restrain caution, verify facts as well as balance their reports before rushing to the press to avoid misinforming the public on sensitive issues.”