Boko Haram is supposed to have been sufficiently degraded. If they can still abduct 83 Soldiers, we should be worried
The soldiers remain unaccounted for after Boko Haram terrorists attacked their base in Gashigar village, Borno state, on October 17.
According to Premium Times, dozens of the Soldiers probably drowned after throwing themselves into the Niger River as they fled from the superior firepower of the terrorists.
22 of the Soldiers who sustained varying degrees of injuries, were said to have been rescued by their counterparts and taken to a hospital in Diffa town in Borno, according to the report.
In a statement, Army Spokesperson Sani Usman, confirmed the attack but his casualty figures were different and most of his statement hit evasive notes.
The terrorists overpowered the soldiers, killing 13 of them, said Usman.
“The troops did their best to defend the location in vain. In the process, 13 soldiers sustained injuries while some are still missing in action," Usman said.
Usman added that: “However, the wounded soldiers have been evacuated and receiving treatment, while efforts are ongoing in search of those missing and clearing the Boko Haram terrorists at the general area".
Gashigar lies on the Borno fringes and is conterminous with Niger Republic.
The attack on the base of the Soldiers brings back unhappy memories of the days when terrorists overpowered ill equipped Nigerian troops, forcing them into “tactical maneuvers”.
In 2014, 480 Nigerian Soldiers sought refuge in Cameroon following a bruising encounter with Boko Haram terrorists.
In a statement at the time, the Army said of the 480 Soldiers who had tactically maneuvered themselves into Cameroon: “Eventually they found themselves on Cameroonian soil. Being allies, the normal protocol of managing such incident demanded that the troops submit their weapons in order to assure the friendly country that they were not on a hostile mission”.
Those were the days when a certain Sambo Dasuki who was National Security Adviser (NSA) to erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan, in cahoots with Army Chiefs, pocketed billions of Naira earmarked for procuring sophisticated weapons for the military.
Conditions around the Army should have improved. The Command Center has been moved to Maiduguri since a certain Muhammadu Buhari returned as democratic President and depending on who you talk to, welfare of Soldiers has improved as well.
The insurgents have also been pounded into submission and have been reduced to a rag-tag army only capable of striking soft targets, we’ve been told time and again by Presidency talking heads.
That 83 Soldiers could still disappear in the circumstances, is plenty of cause for concern.
It may also suggest that stories of Boko Haram’s demise may have been exaggerated; premature—that as a fighting force, the insurgents haven’t been sufficiently degraded or diminished as trumpeted.
We could also dismiss this incident as a one-off--a surprise ambush.
Or we could infer that if Boko Haram can still abduct 83 armed and battle-hardened men, the rest of us should be legitimately worried.
While putting this story together, Pulse did reach out to Army Spokesperson Colonel Usman, for details of the attack.
A man who introduced himself as Usman’s orderly picked up the call instead and promised “Oga” was going to get back.
Usman hadn’t returned the call at the time of filing this.