The Nigerian military has accused “some journalists” of working for the terror group, Boko Haram, after reports showed security forces had suffered heavy losses in recent months.
In an apparent targeting of the media, the military said it was “known that some journalists work for Boko Haram and fraternise with terrorist commanders”. The military provided no evidence backing its claim.
Its statement on Thursday came amid reports showing the army has lately faced a string of heavy losses, with over a hundred soldiers killed by Boko Haram.
In July, PREMIUM TIMES reported that no fewer than 23 Nigerian soldiers went missing after insurgents ambushed a military convoy at Boboshe village in Bama local government area of Borno State. Five officers, 18 soldiers and eight trucks were missing after the attack.
More attacks have occured since then with at least 31 soldiers killed in a September onslaught, military sources told PREMIUM TIMES.
Reuters also reported this week the deaths of soldiers. It appears the military statement was in response to the report.
John Agim, the military spokesperson, said the statement that the “campaign” was spearheaded by a “particular foreign news agency”.
Mr Agim denied soldiers had been killed. He said the report “was calculated to dampen the spirit of the troops at the theatres of operation and to demean the successes recorded so far in the war against terrorism”.
“It is more worrisome when such an ill-informed report is coming from a supposed credible news agency expected to be a partner in progress. It agitates the mind whether the reporter is working in isolation or speaking the mind of its sponsors,” the statement said.
“It is a well-known fact that terrorism thrives on publicity and propaganda. It is also known that some journalists work for Boko Haram and fraternise with terrorist commanders against the standing forces to whip up sentiment,” he said.
The military said at the peak of Boko Haram insurgency, “the armed forces with limited weapons chased Boko Haram out of Abuja and other cities into Sambisa forest”.
“How much more now that the military is well equipped with determined troops to take on any terrorist group, be it Boko Haram or Islamic State In West Africa,” he quipped. “If this is still seen as ‘struggling’ by the purveyors of the false reports, then the word may have assumed a new meaning,” he said.
He said the strategy of drawing out the enemy had been a great success as hundreds of terrorists had been killed in their desperate attempts to recapture some cities in the North-east.