Following a major Boko Haram attack five weeks ago, the Nigerian Army has officially declared one officer and 45 Nigerian soldiers missing.
The new commander of the Nigerian Army 145 Task Force Battalion in Damasak, Borno State, M. Jimoh, a lieutenant colonel, made this declaration and notification in a November 20th notice, according to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr. Jimoh, sent the signal to each of the battalions who had soldiers that were part of the missing number. They include; the 145 Battalion rear base in Ohafia, Abia State, the Army 7 Division Headquarters in Maiduguri and 82 Division Garrison in Enugu.
Also mentioned were; 5 Battalion in Kano; 20 Battalion in Serti, Taraba State; 103 Battalion in Enugu, 119 Battalion in Malam Fatori, Borno State, 143 Infantry Battalion for special forces in Borno State; 144 Battalion in Asa, Abia State; and 146 Battalion in Calabar.
Sources reveal that consequently, Army authorities have formally informed the families of the 46 personnel of their loved ones fates and requested that their next of kin forward bank details for onward remittance of accrued payments.
Lieutenant Colonel K. Yusuf who was recently replaced by Mr. Jimoh as the commander of 145 Task Force Battalion is reported to be among the missing soldiers.
The troops were on deployment in Gashigar, which sits on the northernmost edge of Borno State, as part of the ‘Operation Gama Aiki’ which was launched in June, aimed at displacing insurgents hibernating around the Nigerian border with Niger and Chad.
Senior military sources disclosed that the soldiers were manning the Forward Operation Base there when Boko Haram operatives pushed towards them with superior firepower in the evening of October 16.
After initial resistance, the troops soon abandoned their base and scampered for safety. At dawn on October 17, the leadership of the Nigerian Army was informed that Boko Haram attacked the troops when they jumped into River Yobe, where the sect opened fire and left unknown number of them fatally wounded.
Reports said twenty-two of the fleeing soldiers were rescued by the Nigerien troops and transported to a hospital in Diffa, southern Niger, for treatment even though spokesman for the Army, Sani Usman denied the report, declaring it false.
However, on the same day, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole in the northeast, Major General Lucky Irabor, claimed only 39 soldiers went missing.