A deadly exchange of gunfire involving Nigerian soldiers guarding a storage facility operated by Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum in Port-Harcourt left at least one Army corporal dead last week, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
The dead corporal (name witheld as we are not sure his family has been notified), was killed in action when unknown assailants ambushed a military escort vehicle he was riding in with his fellow soldiers on November 17, military sources informed PREMIUM TIMES weekend.
For two days, PREMIUM TIMES made unsuccessful efforts to get official comments from military spokespersons about the development.
Sani Usman, a brigadier-general and spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, did not respond to requests for comments. Calls and messages sent to him were unanswered. John Enenche, a major-general and head of media at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, said he was out of town and had not been informed about the incident.
The victim’s remains have been moved to a mortuary, PREMIUM TIMES learnt. Based on military guidelines, his family members should have been contacted, although this was not immediately clear as of the time of filing this report Monday afternoon.
The team also recorded a loss of arms and ammunition while repelling the fatal assault, PREMIUM TIMES understands.
The soldiers were attacked around the industrial neighbourhood of Rumuomasi, about six kilometres from Port-Harcourt city centre, while transporting food items to their colleagues who were protecting an oil installation jointly operated by Shell and BP in Abomina.
The number of those responsible for the attacks and their motive was not immediately ascertained.
A spokesperson for Shell Nigeria, Bamidele Odugbesan, and Rivers State police spokesperson, Omoni Nnamdi, did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments Monday. Calls and messages to them were unanswered.
The incident is the latest in a string of lethal attacks against Nigerian soldiers around the oil-rich state, which is the economic hub of the Niger-Delta.
In April, the Army said two soldiers were killed by sea bandits who were described as heavily armed.
In May, three military personnel, including an Army major, were killed by suspected pirates in Abonnema, a major Calabari town 60 kilometres south-west of Port Harcourt.
The outcome of investigations launched into the attacks have not been made public by military authorities several months later.