….security situation in North-East worrisome, says Defence Minister
No fewer than 19 persons were killed in Malari village, Borno State, in an attack by Boko Haram insurgents.
An aid worker at a camp for internally displaced persons, IDPs, in Monguno, a town in Borno, said hundreds of survivors from villages in the area have fled to the IDPs camp.
This is even as the Army denied reports that 50 soldiers were lost to Boko Haram insurgents.
Abatcha Umar, a witness, who noted that the attack took place in the early hours of Sunday, said he counted 19 bodies, including that of his younger brother.
He added that the militants were spotted around the village three days before their attack and that residents informed soldiers stationed in the nearby town of Gudumbali, but lamented that no action was taken.
An aid worker at a camp that received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll at 63.
Boko Haram fighters, according to Reuters, reportedly arrived in trucks firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
The attack is coming weeks after many soldiers were killed in an ambush in the North-East, as Boko Haram has continued to carry out attacks in the region, despite efforts by government to subdue the group.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has denied media reports that it lost over 50 soldiers to Boko Haram terrorists.
The Army said the report, which it described as false, was one of the many strategies of the Boko Haram terrorists to deceive unsuspected public from knowing the many successes being recorded by the military in the ongoing war against terrorism.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, reacting to the report in a telephone interview with Vanguard in Abuja, yesterday, insisted that troops in the North East were intact, asking Nigerians not to fall prey to the terrorists’ antics.
Chukwu particularly pleaded with the mainstream media not to believe stories that terrorists were planting in some social media platforms.
The army spokesman said he was right in Maiduguri, Borno State, appealed to all Nigerians to stop taking the claim of terrorists serious.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday directed the security agencies to step up their battle to secure the country.
He gave the directive during the Security Council meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The meeting was held amid reports of security threats ahead of today’s Eid-El-Kabir celebration.
Minister of Defence Mansur Dan Ali admitted that the security situation in the Northeast “is worrisome”.
He explained: “We have looked into it critically and we have taken absolute decision.”
Apart from the minister, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gabriel Olonisakin attended the meeting alongside National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff Abubakar Sadique were also at the meeting.
There were also National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ahmed Abubakar, Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris and Department for State Services Acting Director-General Matthew Seiyefa.
Gen Olonisakin told reporters that the security chiefs briefed the President on the security situation, adding:
“We just had two and half hours meeting with the President and Commander-in-Chief. We reviewed the security situation across the country in all the geopolitical zones and, of course, we made all our comments, especially the new operations in Benue, Zamfara, Taraba Operation WISE Stroke, and Operation (Saradaji).
“We gave the extent of successes in these operations and we are to continue in this line of action in these operations.
“All the operations were reviewed and all the issues concerning the operations were dealt with. And he directed that we should continue to step up our game to ensure that the nation is safe and people go about their daily activities in a very safe manner.The minister added: “This is a normal routine security briefing with Mr President; he just came back, so we briefed him on all the activities we had while he was away. It is an update of the August 2 meeting.
“The decision that has been taken is that we have seen that there is a lot of improvement in the security situation in the country, more especially in Zamfara and Benue states, and in the Niger Delta.