The Defence Headquarters said this on Thursday.
The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has again insisted that not up to 185 people were killed in last week’s clash between suspected terrorists and officers of the Multinational Joint Task Force in Baga, Borno State.
Major General Lawrence Ngubani, the Chief of Training and Operations at the Defence Headquarters, disclosed this on Thursday when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Kashim Shettima in Maiduguri.
Mr. Ngubani, who led a team of officers on an assessment visit to Baga, said that the visit was at the instance of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim.
He said that preliminary assessment of the entire episode proved that the casualty figures being reported were far from the truth, adding that the figures were actually exaggerated.
“The team visited the Baga Town and had an audience with the victims and other relevant persons.
“We also visited two separate graveyards where the dead victims were purportedly buried, what we saw was extremely below what was reported.
“We are not undermining the death of a single Nigerian, in fact the incident was a sad one and a big loss to the nation,” he said.
Mr. Ngubani said that the team was mandated by the Chief of Defense Staff to find out the veracity or otherwise of the casualty figures as widely reported by local and international media.
“The team was constituted at the instance of the CDS, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, following the global outcry over the high level of purported number of victims reported by the media.
“The CDS feels there is the need for the Defence Headquarters to carry out an independent and comprehensive assessment to find out if the actual number of civilians claimed to have been killed in the violence is indeed true.
“So, we are in the state to interact with the local officials, surviving victims, traditional and religious leaders, as well as other stakeholders of the affected community.”
Responding, Governor Shettima restated the state government’s determination to tackle what he described as “the abject poverty among youths’’.
The Nigerian military had earlier released contradictory and confusing statements about the crisis. While the Defence Headquarters said 25 insurgents were killed by soldiers in Baga, the Joint Task Force commander in Borno said 30 insurgents were killed, also giving a different day as period of the crisis. The JTF also claimed only six civilians were killed and 30 houses burnt.
The Borno State Government, the residents of Baga, and the Red Cross all said more than 100 people were killed in the crisis.
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