Nigerian Military covers up killing of soldiers by Boko Haram

FILE PHOTO
FILE PHOTO

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Screenshot (51)

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.

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.

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 the dead soldiers 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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  • Igwe

    Perhaps Premium Times and Icinigeria are unaware of the very simple fact that Nigeria is at war and ‘disinformation’ is a fully legitimate and accepted tactic of warfare.
    To what end are theey making this story public?

    We would have them know that There is a difference between reporting the news and the downright treasonous act of giving the enemy actionable information!!!

    What is the compulsive force behind making this public? How does it serve Nigeria and Nigerians? What effect would this have on enemy forces besides bolstering their resolve? As a rule of thumb in war time, If your news report will boost the morale of enemy forces, CAN it!
    PT and icinigeria are criminally liable for this blunder!

    p.s. The press only has as much freedom as afforded it by the Government during wartime! Careless mouths sink ships!

    • chukwu michael

      How would you feel if your brother or your son is in the Army and such fate befalls him and no one gave you any explanation? Instead of appreciating the situation with empathy, you are making academic exercise against a well articulated report. Premium is not the first reporter of this incident. It was reported by another daily but not as comprehensive as this and in every rumor, there is always an iota of truth. Yes, we feel with the families, but that will not mean they should not be told and the one who is taking advantage of the situation making money from it will keep dancing on the financial grave of the dead while the mute lasts. We know that there is no war without casualty but the casualties should be treated with levity as you are and the Army are doing. You can as well tell Buhari to limit the freedom of the press and report only ”We have defeated Boko Haram Technically”. Christy Amanpouwer,a war correspondent never trivialized war report. Even when America was at war with Iraq, she balances the situation. You want to keep the family of a deceased perpetually in dark while you enjoy their tears and spend the allowances of the victims. Better be careful.

      • Igwe

        1.It is not the duty of the media to tell family members that they have lost loved ones.
        2.The number of news organizations that have made similar reports changes nothing.
        3.America embedded journalists with their troops in the war you described with VERY strict rules.
        Amanpour would never disclose prohibited information. Reporters are not there to balance equations.
        They are there to report the news and if at any point, the news they are reporting develops the capacity to cause casualties among citizens and troops, they STOP!

        We have been very patient with you. Please, organize your thoughts and research your subject matter before you reply to our comments in the future.

        • chukwu michael

          When those whose duty it is to tell us fail to do that, what else do expect? Are you in the Army,? Do you have your relation in the Army, pray they do not be victims. It is traumatizing. How long would you keep that secret? The one seeking for equity must come with clean hands. You should be prepared to get replies from me on your comments else, with draw. While it is not the duty of the press to tell family members that they lost their child, father or brother in the Army, the Army should do the needful and stop feeding with the money and allowances of the dead. When people needed information and those whose duty it is to release the information refuse to do that, it gives room to rumors and speculations. For you to avoid that situation, come out clean.

  • Retired Journalist

    @aminukolawoleonyekwere:disqus

    You are so wrong it’s unbelievable. This is an award-winning investigative report by Premium Times
    in the class of the very best in global journalism at its height in the 1970s. I would be surprised if the
    global community does not rate this the same way. TIME and NEWSWEEK dominated that class of
    journalism for two decades, starting from the 1970s, but now Premium Times overtakes everyone.

  • westernrollings

    May the goof Lord deliver us.

    • I did It 4 Love.

      @westernrollings# Sorry my Almighty Lord isn’t a goof. What rubbish have you written ma man?

      Please throw away that chinco phone you are using, soon it gonna get you into wahala then you blame ikebe or satan. Now is the time to get rid of it.

  • Charlie

    If the place is occupied by boko haram as claimed, how come the press and the army that were supposed to have been routed have access to take pictures? Or did Premium Times get it’s information from boko haram? Something is not adding up here.

    • Original_Raskal

      It is adding up! Think with your brain!!!

      some soldiers who are saddened about the cover up of the massacre of their colleagues were the ones that leaked the pictures! They have been crying about it! If you know friends or relatives in the army, just ask them!

      • Charlie

        So more everything was calm enough for “saddened soldiers” to take pictures and at the same time hot enough that more than half of the troops were massacred or deserted in the heat of battle in an enemy stronghold. Think, if you are capable.

        • Original_Raskal

          my guy, you need to reason ooooo! did you see fire in the truck shown in the picture? what does that tells you? brain is meant for resoning! did you not read that the soldiers and their commander were missing? what again does that tell you about the picture? think man! think!

  • peaceometer

    This is a war fronts and anything can happen. Soldiers don’t sleep in war fronts, tgey take rotational resting.

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  • emmanuel

    No wahala, the APC Government will also cover up any mishap on the part of PT and those deployed by Liar Mohammed to cover up all the ills of this government.
    Nigerians were suppressed between 1984 and 1985, people grumbled in secret, leaved in pains and hardship. Those of us who are old enough now knew what followed.
    The situation is not different today, except that there is press freedom; but managed by a man who get his Boys to make threat and midnight calls to phones owned by critics of the failed government. They may think that they are technically in control of the press, but the danger that follows such deep silence by Nigerians are un imaginable.
    The future will tell!

  • Titus

    PREMIUM TIMES, YOU TOO MUCH IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM. KEEP IT UP.

  • evidence

    When ThisDay reported this story and Fani Kayode reiterated this story and condemned Buhari and Burantashi for this evil and demonic cover up, buhari and his idiotic followers said it was corruption fighting back, among other nonsense they tagged Fani Kayode. No matter how long it takes, Buhari and  Burantashi will pay for all their atrocities and extra judicial killings. ‎

  • Abidilagungun

    Premium Times is the best online newspaper in Nigeria and it has proven that it not driven by propaganda and sentiments, in the true spirit of journalism, very unlike saharareporters and others. The distant next is thecable. Keep it up. If we will get the best out of this change in government, we must keep the new government on its toes and not act like winning the presidency is the end itself, rather than a means to a better end

    • utolason

      Did you read the first paragraph? Premium Times copied the report!

      • Abidilagungun

        Ala Julius Caesar, Praise them for their good copies!

  • utolason

    Can your editor tell us the purpose of this news report? Is it to tell Boko Haram how successful they have been or to celebrate their success with them?.

    • adeade

      You seemingly don’t understand Premium Tines’ point of argument… We all know we are in the hard times in Nigeria.. If you say soldiers die fighting Boko Haram, is it new to Nigerians? No, but why do they need to bury these people without government expressing regrets on this and consoling with the families… It showed that they died for fun n not like gallant soldiers..

      • I did It 4 Love.

        Thanks. Deep thinking. I wonder why some Nigerians can’t accept truth and tomorrow they complain about their leaders looting the treasury.

        With most comments on this forum, I have come to conclusion that Nigerians appreciate liars to those who says the truth, why then are they calling Lai Mohammed liar Mohammed? Double face generation. Gosh I am disgusted by attitudes of few writers here.

        How can our military not publish all the names of the missing and fallen soldiers so that their families can come to a closure instead of thinking that their relatives are still fighting bokoharam?

        Why is Buhari Government too concern about his government image than the truth? Horrible

      • IZON Redeemer

        Buhari said the Boko haram war is over and that it only exist in the minds and hearts of Nigerians——————–from the South of the country—The USA knowinly imposed sanctions on the government of Jonathan by refusing to supply army to our soldiers to fight boko haram–Instead of Buhari who warned Jonathan to stop killing Boko haram Fulanis fighters to tell us the true situation of things at the war front, he is diverting attention by chasing Dasuki over some money allegedly used in the purchase of arms——he described as junk–How can Buhari a retired Fulani General ahdn over weapons siad to be junk to———–soldiers to fight with—Now the army is asking for half a trillion Naira to renovate baracks with under Buhari—-while Buhari refuses to buy even pistol to fight boko haram—Has Burutai admitted ever killing unarmed Shiite Muslims–

      • IZON Redeemer

        Buhari said the Boko haram war is over and that it only exist in the minds and hearts of Nigerians——————–from the South of the country—The USA knowinly imposed sanctions on the government of Jonathan by refusing to supply army to our soldiers to fight boko haram–Instead of Buhari who warned Jonathan to stop killing Boko haram Fulanis fighters to tell us the true situation of things at the war front, he is diverting attention by chasing Dasuki over some money allegedly used in the purchase of FAKE arms—–which -he described as junk–How can Buhari a retired Fulani General hand over weapons said to be junk to———–soldiers to fight with’ The man is due for the ICC—Now the army is asking for half a trillion Naira to renovate barRacks with under Buhari—-while Buhari refuses to buy even pistol to fight boko haram—Has Burutai the head of the army, admitted ever killing unarmed Shiite Muslims– and when will Buhari procure arms for the soldiers with last years budget?

  • Premumu Times

    What is wrong in the Nigerian military cover up of the fact that soldiers were killed?
    1. Did Duncee not cover up his secondary school certificate for over 10 yrs that he was contesting presidency?
    2. Did the Ooni of Ife not cover up the fact that the Yorubas borrowed the titile ‘Oba’ from the Bini people of Edo State? …and to further cover up the cover up, the Ooni is claiming the Bini Kingdom as part of his territory.
    3. Did Duncee not cover up the 2016 budget fraud?
    4. Did the FG not cover up the TSA fraud?
    5. Is the FG not covering up for the sponsors of Boko haram?
    6. Where is Duncee’s certificate? Did INEC not cover up for him?
    7. etc, etc, etc

    Is there anything that is not under cover up in Nigeria? Does Premumu not cover up stories and refuse to highlight the deaths from Islamist terrorist Boko haram? So what the heell is wrong with the army cover up? Rubbish!

  • Who is SPONSORING Boko_Haram?

    On January 30, Boko haram Islamists killed 82 Nigerians and burnt several alive in Bornu. Did Premium Times not cover up the story by refusing to show the burnt corpses of Nigerians in the attack? Did Premium Times not cover up by refusing to give the story prominence?

    …again, last Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 the same Islamist terrorist group called Boko haram killed 86 persons at the IDP camp but Premium times reported 56 persons dead. Is this not cover up? Four days after, no one remembers the 86 Nigerians anymore. There is not a single story on PT’s website relating to the deaths in January & February. If it were in France, or UK or US or Chad, they would be actively looking for the masterminds and sponsors…instead Buhari is not interested in the sponsors of Boko haram…Why? ????????He keeps covering up with Dasuki story. Why COVER UP with Dasuki story?

    • share Idea

      You missed the point, he is interested in releasing the captured BH whenever the numbers of the free ones depletes. Nigeria we hail thee

  • Omotolaaraujo

    All we read is the incompetence of the Nigerian military. They have obviously lied to Buhari to cover up the truth about their activities and losses.

    • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

      Stop your senseless rant, the army makes official returns to the C-IN-C, Buhari knows about the deaths but will never talk ..just like the Shiites massacre or the rampant killing of Igbo Biafran agitators.

  • Man_Enough

    Propaganda is one of the potent weapons of war. Premium times has only suceeded in boosting the ego and morale of boko haram fighters, aspecially as it was not their reporter that witnessed the incident they are helping to propagate. To say the least, this is unpatriotic as it will instill fear and trepidation in our galant soldiers in the war front.

  • abodes_124

    Truth is the first casualty of war. This is a war being fought and victory declared on the air waves.. Let the citizens know the truth within limits permitted by security considerations and they will trust the government and support the army’s effort.