The Nigeria Army spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman denied the Boko Haram attack Saturday on a village 28 miles east of Maiduguri was a direct ambush on army Chief Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, who was visiting the area at the time of the attack to encourage troops to keep up the fight against the terrorist group.
Usman said the militants did not even know the army chief was in the vicinity. He said the army repelled the attack with overwhelming firepower, killing 10 of the terrorists and capturing five. He also said one government soldier was killed and five wounded.
“Saturday, we were traveling from Maiduguri on to Dikwa to encourage our troops. Unfortunately, between Mafa and Dikwa, the remnants of Boko Haram laid an ambush on the first convoy of the entourage of the chief of army staff,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to defeat Boko Haram. But some say there has been an increase in Boko Haram attacks since Buhari was sworn in in May this year.
Usman said the chief of army staff has always been in the theater of the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the northeast. He said the media has misinterpreted exactly what happened on Saturday.
“It’s no question of embarrassment or anything. The chief of army staff has always been in the field. And it’s not just him; all the services chiefs. These are the kinds of things we face on the daily basis, and they (Boko Haram) were not even aware the chief of army was even part of the convoy,” he said.
An 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force comprising the armies of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin joined the fight against Boko Haram since the beginning of August.
Usman said tremendous progress has been made in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists.
“What I want you to understand is that we have been making tremendous and steady progress in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the country, and our troops have been enclosing the enemy to the extent that we want to isolate them in the Sambisa Forest only,” Usman said.