The Nigerian military has hit back at Amnesty International’s claim that it ignored repeated warnings of an impending attack on Baga and Monguno and also failed to take measures to protect the civilian population of the surrounding towns and villages describing the allegation as “misleading”, “inaccurate and unfair.”
On Wednesday, Amnesty International [AI] released a statement claiming information it obtained from a senior military officer and evidence gathered from other sources revealed that commanders at the military base in Baga informed the military headquarters in Abuja of a looming attack on the town and repeatedly asked for reinforcement but the military hierarchy failed to respond accordingly.
Amnesty’s claim also tallies with PREMIUM TIMES exclusive report that though the army was aware of an impending attack the base was not adequately prepared when the terrorists attacked.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Director for Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Brigadier General, said AI’s claim is a continuation of the organisation’s use of the unfortunate incident to discredit the military’s counter terrorism efforts.
Mr. Olukolade said the protection of civilians is the essence of the military’s counter terrorism activities and that the troops were adequately prepared and engaged the insurgents in all the instances mentioned by AI.
“Being an area of operation where terrorists are known to be ever looking for the slightest opportunity to attack and perpetrate heinous atrocities, Nigerian troops are conversant with the need to maintain the highest form of alertness always,” he said.
“Every available information is factored into the intelligence that drives every engagement or encounter in any part of the mission area. This standard has not only been sustained but has been incrementally enhanced in terms of capacity, troop’s deployment, coordination, troop’s mobility and protection as well as logistics.
“Regular patrols, surveillance, pursuit and actual combat engagement to curtail or forestall terrorists’ activities and threats are also conducted. This has substantially succeeded in preventing, frustrating or minimising the effect of terrorists’ dastardly intentions and actions. This also accounts for why the main intention of terrorists attack on Maiduguri and other places could not succeed.”
Mr. Olukolade, therefore, said AI’s conclusion was misleading adding that if the organisation had tried to confirm the information it got, it would have found out that it was misleading at best.
“The misleading conclusions by Amnesty International could have been avoided if they had made meaningful efforts to verify the inciting allegations. Whatever be the intention, the allegations, at best can only constitute a distractive and misleading commentary or interpretation of the terrorists’ activities, the efforts to curb them and the actual situation on the ground in Nigeria.,” he said
“The Nigerian security forces remain willing and capable of discharging the responsibility of defending the country’s territory and people,” he maintained.