EXCLUSIVE: Untold story of how 9 Nigerian soldiers, 4 Unimaid staff, 14 others were killed in Boko Haram ambush

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Army troops clearing Boko Haram enclaves along Bitta to Tokumbere, Sambisa Forest, Borno state
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Army troops clearing Boko Haram enclaves along Bitta to Tokumbere, Sambisa Forest, Borno state

The kidnap of oil workers that resulted in the death of nine soldiers also led to the death of at least 18 other people including some of the kidnap victims, PREMIUM TIMES can exclusively report.

The victims, who included scientists, engineers and some personnel of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) were ambushed near Jibi village in Gubio Local Government Area on Tuesday while on an oil exploration mission in Lake Chad.

The NNPC, which is directly responsible for the oil exploration, had said 10 people were part of the team, but that the oil workers were mainly staff of the Geology department of the University of Maiduguri (Unimaid) to whom part of the oil exploration was subcontracted.

After their kidnap on Tuesday, the Nigerian Army, alongside members of the Civilian-JTF, launched a rescue mission.

The Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, in a statement announced the rescue of all the NNPC staff, saying nine soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice in the process.

“So far, they (troops) have rescued all the NNPC staff and recovered the corpses of the officer, 8 soldiers and a civilian who have been deposited at the 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital,” he said.


Reliable sources both within the military and the University of Maiduguri have, however, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the casualty was beyond what was announced by the army, and that none of the oil workers were actually rescued alive.

Mr. Usman did not say how many NNPC officials were rescued alive.

At least 18 other people died from the raid, a top military source confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES.

“The rescue team which comprised the military, CJTF leadership from Maiduguri and the Magumeri chapter arrived back Maiduguri at about 6:30 p.m,” the source said.

Of the 18 other corpses recovered, 12 have been identified as members of the CJTF, while four have been identified as staff of Unimaid. The four include two PhD holders.

PREMIUM TIMES is withholding the names of the victims until their families are adequately informed.

The corpses have since been deposited at the mortuary of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

Officials at the hospital refused to speak on record, However, an hospital staff told the VOA Hausa Service that five Hilux vans were used to bring corpses to the hospital on Wednesday evening.

At the University, officials are still keeping mum, shocked about the incident.

The school’s spokesperson, Danjuma Gambo, a professor, declined comments saying it was now a security matter.


Although the army spokesperson, Mr. Usman, did not provide details of the slain soldiers, PREMIUM TIMES got their identity from reliable military sources, but has decided to keep their names for now until their families are notified.

The officers include a lieutenant, two corporals, a lance corporal, and five privates.

The officers have now joined the ranks of hundreds of Nigerian soldiers who have died defending the country from the Boko Haram terror group since 2009.

The exact number of soldiers who have died since the insurgency began has not been provided by the military.

During Wednesday’s rescue efforts, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that four wounded CJTF members were also found wandering in the bush while five vehicles were recovered.

In his statement on Wednesday, Mr. Usman added that soldiers recovered four vehicles, one of which includes a gun truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, two white Hilux vans, and a blue one belonging to the CJTF.

“The team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans of containing petroleum, oil and lubricant, assorted drugs, Improvised Explosive Device, IEDs, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others,” he said.

“The team also neutralized many of the terrorists,” he added.


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  • George

    This is why Al Jazzera was banned in the US and some Arab countries for propagating the works of isis and terrorist. Allow the security operative do their jobs. Junk reporting!!

    • Rumournaire

      Precisely. Somewhat immature journalism – reporting everything without regard to national interest. They delight in making tragedies their headlines. I recall a BBC interview of the Head of Scotland Yard in UK years back. The Scotland Yard chief said “If we reported every crime in the UK, people would be too scared to walk the streets.” He said responsible journalism should avoid creating fear in the citizens by inundating people with tragic news. Our Nigerian journalists are yet to learn that.

      • Sab

        Don’t blame Premium Times because this is the fruit of the seed you sowed during GEJ era. Then you celebrated BH without consideration to national patriotism! Weep not child, for what goes around, surely comes around!

    • Sab Osuji

      But you were celebrating them during GEJ regime, why change gear now? So it’s now you realized what patriotism is all about? Hypocrits at the highest order!

  • Jorim Jerry

    When a mole is within…..BH needed money for ransome….since it never worked out, PhD holders
    lives were giiven….Its a pity.

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  • George

    Boko Haram has been long defeated says the half dead Buhari the president of Duara Republic.

    • Ahmed Tukur

      Criticized with respect, Don’t insult.

      • George

        When did you learned that from; after Jonathan exit or when.

  • Caponey

    Premium Times Editor,

    Operation Kill or Capture Shekahu in 40 days

    NNPC state oil company may be squeezed hard for multi-million dollar
    ransom by Boko Haram militias in a bargain on these prized geologists if cash
    is the purpose for this deadly operation which saw several soldiers killed and
    tens of other members of the NNPC geological survey team captured along with
    military vehicles. The Nigerian Army may have some explaining to do over this rout.
    But for now the priority is to free the captured geologists, none of whom has so far
    been seen.

    We only heard, but can’t confirm if anyone has been rescued,”
    said Minister of Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu in reaction to the army’s overhasty
    statement that all the captured oil workers have been rescued by military
    action. An enhanced military operation to capture or kill Boko Haram Leader
    Abubakar Shekahu within 40 days, as ordered a week or so ago by Nigeria’s
    Army Chief, is not expected to be this porous for Boko Haram militias to easily
    overrun it in a few minutes. The operation kill-or-capture Abubakar Shekahu
    now underway may need to be reassessed for tactics and strategy as a result
    of this combat failure.

  • moe

    The question is, how did boko haram know enough about such a high value target as this exploration team to stage an ambush? Clearly, boko haram intended to use them in exchange for monetary reliefs or in exchange for captured terrorists.
    Again, how did boko haram know about the movement of this group and then successfully track and kidnap them?

  • Abdullah Musa

    Premium Times!
    When reporting about Nigeria’s army show some decorum, patriotism.
    Let us say Boko Haram kills thousands of our soldiers.
    Do you prefer that you embolden the insurgents by magnifying our losses?

    • 0tile

      What are those fallen soldiers fighting for? Don’t you know it is better to leave Boko Haram Muslims actualize their Caliphate than wasting the lives of innocent youths?

      • Abdullah Musa

        Are you suggesting that every terrorist group that arises should be allowed to have its way?

  • Gary

    RIP to the departed souls in this latest deadly assault by the Jihadists.
    It is obvious that the terrorists are increasingly hard pressed for money to continue fighting and are now resorting to staging ambushes aimed at seizing hostages to exchange for monetary ransom.
    The Army Chief should, in hindsight not have publicly issued the order to kill and capture Shekau in 40 days.
    He’s now reacting like a cornered rat and going for broke to stay alive and avoid capture.
    The military now has to pour in troops to secure the civilian population of the region, a Herculean undertaking considering the size and spread of Borno and Yobe states.
    May God help our troops prevail in finally cutting off the head of the snake and end the nightmare in the North East.

  • George

    Their graves has been prepared because they never die before they are buried. ALLAH KABUKU

    Taking our oil money to desert in the name of looking for another oil to give the North equal position after they have mismanaged our resources will only bring them sorrows.

    Any money taking from the South by force by those criminals in power will only bring them more pains, sorrows, deaths, VVF for the women, and above all general unknown sickness will affect them all both young and old, God Almighty will set confusion and sorrows in their various household now and forever.

  • chinedu

    This is the result of a very unintelligent administration embarking on a deja vu in the name of seeking for oil in the desert. I foresee a situation where the military will be fed up with the conscienceless waste of their lives. And then may God save us all.