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PRESIDENT BUHARI MEETS WITH SERVICE CHIEFS
By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has summoned Service Chiefs to an emergency security meeting over the reported killing of some Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram sect along the Nigeria-Chad border on Sunday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reliably gathered that the urgent meeting was necessitated by the latest security developments across the battle fields in the North East region of the country.
A reliable source, who preferred not to be named, confirmed this development to NAN in Abuja on Friday.
NAN learnt that Federal Government pronouncement on the latest victims of Boko Haram insurgency was being delayed because families of the victims were being identified and contacted.
“The President has called an urgent meeting with the Service Chiefs.
“And the families of the latest victims of the Boko Haram are being identified and contacts made before a government pronouncement on the tragic attacks.
“This, it is understood is the reason for the silence of the government over the incident,’’ the source added.
According to some reports, no fewer than 44 soldiers were killed during the attacks, which occurred at Metele, a remote village bordering Nigeria and Chad. The village is located in Guzamala LG area of Borno state.
The Nigerian Army broke its silence on the attack on Friday night.
Though it confirmed the attack, which it described as “an unfortunate event”, it decried the misinformation being circulated about the attack.
” It is important for the public to note that the NA has laid down procedures for reporting incidents that involve its personnel who fall casualty in action. Out of respect for the families of our gallant troops, the NOKs(Next of Kins) are first notified before any form of public information so as to avoid exacerbating the grief family members would bear, were they to discover such from unofficial sources.
“Furthermore, it suffices to observe that several social media, print and online publications have been brandishing false casualty figures as well as circulating various footages of old and inaccurate BHT propaganda videos and alluding same to be the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion.
“Whilst it is understandable how such misinformation can spread in this era of social media frenzy, the spurious circulation of some of these videos only contribute to further propagate the propaganda intent of the terrorists; to misinform the populace and portray themselves as what they are not. So far, the situation is that the location is under control as reinforcing units have been able to repel the terrorists and stabilise the situation.
“The NA sincerely, wishes to thank the various arms of government, MDAs and sister security agencies that have stood with her in these trying times; by commiserating with the families of the fallen heroes who have paid the supreme price for the defence of our dearly beloved country. The necessary support being given the NA by the Federal Government and the goodwill of the Nigerian populace will undoubtedly continue to spur the NA towards the ultimate defeat of the highly degraded BHTs.”
President Buhari had earlier dispatched the Minister of Defence, retired Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali, to Chad for an emergency meeting with the Chadian President, Idris Deby, on the deterioration of security at the Nigeria-Chad border.
Dan-Ali had on Thursday briefed President Buhari on security development across the country including the recent killings of some Nigerian soldiers by the Islamic West Africa Province, a breakaway Boko Haram sect, operating along Nigeria-Chad border.
According to military sources, the Minister of Defence would also be meeting his Chadian counterpart during his mission to Chad, to identify what had led to the recent increase in Boko Haram terrorism in the area.
The sources, who preferred not to be named, said: “Nigeria has a Chad problem in the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which was put together to secure the Lake Chad Basin area and repeal the Boko Haram terrorism attacks against all the countries neighbouring the lake.’’
According to the sources, Chad is believed to have its own internal security challenges and this has reportedly led to their pulling away the troops manning their own border around Lake Chad.
“That lacuna is being exploited by the Boko Haram terrorists, who go in and out of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon to launch terrorist acts.
“This is a clear illustration of the fact that terrorism is beyond national borders,” the sources added.
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said he was aware that the Defence Minister would be going to Chad, adding “I’m unaware of his mission there.’’