The Nigerian Army has opened an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of scores of soldiers after a Boko Haram attack last Monday, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
The Army has also replaced the commanding officer who was amongst the 83 soldiers that went missing in the attack.
Top level military officials familiar with the development told PREMIUM TIMES that the enquiry was instituted by the Nigerian Army 8th Task Force Division in Monguno, Borno State.
Members of the enquiry panel are still being identified by our sources, but they were drawn from the Nigerian Army 8th Division Provost Group also in Monguno.
The development came as military authorities continued to withhold information from the public, on the disappearance of a large number of soldiers.
The reports, published exclusively by this newspaper, detailed how soldiers attached to the 145 Task Force Battalion came under attack while manning a station in Gashigar, Borno State, near the border with the Republic of Niger.
The assault, which started around 5:00 p.m. on October 17, left yet unknown number of Nigerian soldiers dead. Some soldiers drowned in the Yobe River, while several others went missing.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the soldiers abandoned their post due to the superior fire power of the terrorists, who also came in large numbers.
By the next morning, it became clear that about 83 soldiers, including a commanding officer, were missing. At least 22 others were rescued by their Nigerien counterparts.
The rescued ones were dispatched to a hospital in Diffa, southern Niger.
Despite relentless demands for information about the incident, the military has yet to provide details to Nigerians.
Similarly, family members of soldiers stationed at the location of the attack are getting increasingly agitated because they haven’t been able to contact their loved ones.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that telecom signals in the area have been put off, making it difficult for family members to confirm whether their loved ones were amongst those missing.
“There is tension and apprehension in the battalion,” one of our sources said. “There is no phone network service in the location. Hence, most of the families do not know who is missing or not.”
PREMIUM TIMES also gathered the Army has asked Long John, a captain, to start acting as the commanding officer because he’s the next most senior officer to K. Yusuf, a colonel, who went missing.
The military has also intensified rescue efforts for the missing soldiers.
The Multinational Joint Task Force and troops attached to 8th Task Force Division have been on patrol for about a week now, as part of the rescue effort.
Army spokesman, Sani Usman, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday night that rescue efforts were underway. But said he won’t disclose the number of missing soldiers.