The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has refuted reports that 2,000 people were killed in a Boko Haram massacre in Baga, Borno state saying that the confirmed number of casualties is actually 150.
This was disclosed by the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday, January 12.
Olukolade added that the casualty figure being publicized in the media is exaggerated.
“…It is however necessary to inform Nigerians in the interim that the exercise so far has not corroborated the report on the casualty rate which was put at 2,000,” Olukolade said.
“From all available evidences, the number of people who lost their lives during that attack has so far not exceeded about 150 in the interim. This figure includes many of the terrorists who were bearing arms and got killed in the course of their attack and battle with troops,” he added.
Olukolade also stated that many residents of Baga were able to escape the massacre.
“It should be noted that Baga and the neighbouring towns have been under a series of attacks and harassment by the terrorists. In the course of this, many residents have left, leaving the population in the town almost seriously depleted. Many were also able to escape while the terrorists’ battle with troops lasted,” he said.
“The figure given by sources who claim to be eyewitnesses must be an extremely exaggerated estimate. Unfortunately, this figure is now being bandied about in a section of the media as if it has been authenticated. It cannot be true,” he added.
He also urged for accurate reporting of casualty figures from such incidents.
“In any case, this is no time to debate about casualty figures or number of deaths as the life of any Nigerian is important. Much as the intention which could be with the aim of drawing attention to the atrocities being committed by terrorists group in Nigeria is most welcome, the need for factual presentation of the situation is equally vital,” he said.
Olukolade also assured that the military had not given the fight to recover Baga and was making efforts to combat the security challenge head-on.