*Says 6 members of oil exploration team out of 12 that went out still missing
*As bodies of 5 soldiers, 11 civilian JTF, 11 members of oil exploration team recovered
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-THE Nigerian Army has tendered unreserved apology to the public over its last week’s information that claimed military troops in the North East successfully rescued members of the oil exploration team and members of Civilian Joint Task Force, abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists.
The apology came as it disclosed that so far, the search and rescue team in the Boko Haram ambush recovered additional bodies of five soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF and five members of the exploration team.
A statement released by the Army through its spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, early Sunday, described the claim as most regrettable, saying the action was not deliberate.
It attributed the error to its efforts at ensuring timely dissemination of information on activities of troops in all theatre of operations.
“We have strived to keep the public informed on our activities with no intention of distorting any fact,” it said.
But the Army said its “troops have doubled efforts in the pursuit of the Boko Haram terrorists while search and rescue is still on-going to secure the safe return of the remaining civilians.”
It also said “Contrary to reports in some media, six members of exploration team out of 12 that went out are still missing, while one of the NNPC staff returned to base alive.”
The full statement read thus: “The incident of 25th July 2017 where some Boko Haram terrorists ambushed our troops including members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) escorting some staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as that of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) on oil exploration in Borno Yesu District of Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno state is unfortunate and highly regrettable.
” Most regrettable also is my earlier release on the said incident about the rescue of all NNPC Staff. The error in the statement was not deliberate.
“The Nigerian Army in this present dispensation is reputed for timely dissemination of information on activities of our troops in all theatre of operations.
“We have strived to keep the public informed on our activities with no intention of distorting any fact.
” Our troops have doubled efforts in the pursuit of the Boko Haram terrorists while search and rescue is still on-going to secure the safe return of the remaining civilians.
“So far the search and rescue team has recovered additional bodies of five soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF and five members of the exploration team.
“Contrary to reports in some media, six members of exploration team out of 12 that went out are still missing, while one of the NNPC staff returned to base alive.
“On the other hand, our pursuit team also recovered two of our own Gun trucks and an additional Toyota Buffalo Gun truck from the insurgents.”
The statement by the Army also listed achievements made by the troops in the recovery of items from the insurgents:
“In addition, the team also made the following recoveries; four Rocket Propelled Grenade Bombs, four Rocket Propelled Grenade chargers, six AK-47 rifles, one Anti-Aircraft Gun, one General Purpose Machine Gun,one Anti-Aircraft Gun Barrel, one Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, four Dane Guns, eight Tyres and two Tyre Rims.
“Other items recovered include one Pumping Machine, two Tyre Jacks, one Super Battery, five Reflective Jackets, three Toyota Hilux, four Jerry cans filled with PMS, one Motorola Radio, one Geographical Positioning System (GPS), 21 empty Jerry cans, two Shovels and three Food Coolers.
” Troops also recovered 122 rounds of PKM ammunition, 213 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 1255 Anti-Aircraft Guns ammunition, four boxes of API 12.7mm ammunition, one AK-47 Rifle Magazine, a Digger, two Bows and 13 Arrows, two LLG Bombs, assorted drugs and assorted working tools.”
The statement said: “The Nigerian Army condoles with the families of all that lost their loved ones in this unfortunate incident. Search and rescue efforts are on-going.”
” We are counting on the goodwill and support of the populace in volunteering valuable information that could help in the search and rescue operation, “it tasked residents of the areas.
“What the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists are doing are pure criminal activities of kidnapping to gain funds. This has been noted and will be jointly addressed in conjunction with other Security Services.
” The Nigerian Army remains resolute in the fight against terrorism and would not relent in its effort to safe guard lives of citizens, properties and the territorial integrity of the country,”it added.
Recall that the Army had last Wednesday, in a statement, claimed that military troops rescued all abducted NNPC Staff even as it said its officer, 8 soldiers and one civilian died during the rescue operation.
The Nigerian Army statement, as had released read thus:”Yesterday Tuesday 25th July 2017, at about 3.00pm, suspected Boko Haram terrorists ambushed the escort and team of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) staff returning from oil exploration
On receipt of the information, the Brigade mobilized and sent reinforcement, search and rescue party that include the Armed Forces Special Forces and guides that worked and pursued the terrorists throughout the night.
“So far, they have rescued all the NNPC staff and recovered the corpses of the Officer, 8 soldiers and a civilian have who have been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
“The team recovered four vehicles one of which include a gun truck mounted with an Anti-Aircraft Gun, two white Hilux taken away from NNPC staff and one blue Hilux belonging to CJTF. They team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans of containing Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant, assorted drugs, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making materials, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others. The team also neutralized many of the terrorists.
“The troops are not relenting in the pursuit, search and rescue effort.”