•Lawmaker confirms attack
•Ending security challenges a matter of time – Buhari
•President’s claims in UNGA speech not true – Minority Reps Caucus
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Levinus Nwabughiogun and Ndahi Marama
Dozens of military troops on pass and on their way to Maiduguri, Borno State capital, on Friday, were ambushed by suspected members of Boko Haram linked to ISWAP, killing several of them, locals said yesterday.
The incident, according to the locals, took place between Marte- Dikwa council areas, when the insurgents fired rocket launchers at military trucks which culminated into sporadic shootings targeting troops being conveyed from Marte to Maiduguri, after spending some time at the theatre.
Marte, about 180km north of Maiduguri, remains one of the council areas of Borno not fully occupied by civilian population, as most of its people are displaced and taking refuge in Monguno, and some parts of Maiduguri.
Initially locals told our correspondent that 16 soldiers lost their lives in the ambush, but it was later learnt that “about 30 soldiers were killed while others sustained gunshot injuries”.
“What happened to troops along Marte- Dikwa axis was very devastating, sounding a warning that the end to terrorists attacks is not realistic. Some soldiers who have spent some time were given pass to pay visit to their families/ loved ones. Unfortunately, while they were on their way from Marte to Maiduguri, they were ambushed by suspected armed ISWAP fighters who fired rocket launchers at the trucks conveying them, leaving about 30 soldiers dead, even as some are still missing”, one of the locals said.
All efforts to get confirmation from Borno State Police Command Public Relations Officer proved abortive at press time, while military spokesman’s department did not issue a statement on the incident.
Meanwhile, member representing Marte in Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Engineer Mohammed Gambomi, in a telephone chat with our correspondent, confirmed the ambush.
Although he said he didn’t have details of deaths, he revealed that two members of Civilian Joint Task Force were killed with others sustained gunshot injuries.
Gambomi said he participated in the burial of the civilian victims at a Maiduguri cemetery on Friday, saying he also visited those who sustained injuries and receiving treatment at hospitals in Maiduguri.
In a related development, President Muhammed Buhari, yesterday, gave assurance that ending the security challenges in Nigeria is only a matter of time.
The President said the support by the United States has made a great difference in Nigeria’s efforts to stamp out terrorism within its borders.
The assurance of ending the security challenges in the country was contained in a statement issued yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina.
The statement further said that President indicated that America’s support was a morale booster to the military, and people of Nigeria in general when he met on Friday in New York with Her Excellency Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of America to the United Nations.
The Nigerian leader said with supply of the Super Tucano aircraft purchased from America, and other helicopters on the way, ending the security challenges in Nigeria was only a matter of time.
Also, yesterday, the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives flayed the address presented by Buhari at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), saying it didn’t reflect the realities on the ground in the country.
In a statement by the Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, yesterday, the caucus said after reviewing Buhari’s speech, it became obvious that the President’s outing was a disservice to the nation.
According to Elumelu, contrary to the President’s claims that Boko Haram has been weakened, the deadly sect has become emboldened in their attacks on military formations.
The caucus added that insecurity, killings and kidnappings amongst other social vices have persisted in the country.