The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on Monday, blamed the weather and informants as responsible for the recent Boko Haram killings, including the attacks on an oil exploration team, comprising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation workers and University of Maiduguri lecturers.
The Director of Defence Information, Major Gen. John Enenche, who said this while speaking on the Boko Haram ambush on Channels Television, alleged that there was a collaboration with the terrorists as the insurgents didn’t attack other convoys apart from the oil exploration team.
No fewer than 60 people, including five lecturers of UNIMAID, about 15 soldiers, 11 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and some staff of the NNPC, were killed on Thursday on their way to a search for crude oil in Barno Yasu in the Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno State.
Enenche stated, “On the Boko Haram attacks, weather affects our operations; it is true. Just like the rainy season affects transportation, it is on our side too. The impact zone of a bomb is highly reduced during rainy season. The hardness of the ground is also a factor to give effect to shrapnel to eliminate the enemies.
“Our movement is also affected in the rainy season. To take off an aircraft, you have to consider the weather. I am yet to see an aircraft that can fly in all kinds of weather. But it is not that the terrorists have taken all the territory. No, I believe that we will overcome this.
“I did a tactical operational analysis of this attack (oil exploration team). It was not without information. The nature of this incident is strongly information-bound. There were collaborators and fifth-columnists.
“Otherwise, how come the insurgents did not attack them on the first day when they finished the exercise with the soldiers? So, they had an informant who gave the terrorists information and ensured that they came to a place where they could easily be ambushed. This is it.”
On the orders to relocate to Borno State given by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the defence spokesman said the service chiefs had complied, adding that it was simply to boost the troops’ morale.
“We cannot really say the Armed Forces are not on top of the situation. The pockets of attacks here and there are strongly based on information from their terrorists’ collaborators who are still among us.
“On the vice-president’s instructions to go back to the command centre, the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Air Staff are fully in coordination of the operations and their presence will boost the morale of the troops.”
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri, Prof. Ibrahim Njodi, has said the institution will continue to work with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the search for commercial oil deposits in the Chad Basin in spite of the recent attack on prospecting team by Boko Haram.
He said this in Maiduguri while receiving a delegation of the NNPC, led by the corporation’s Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Mr. Saidu Mohammed.
Njodi told the delegation that although the unfortunate incident brought sadness to the university community, UNIMAID would not “chicken out” from doing what it was supposed to do when eventually the NNPC returned to exploration work in the area.
He traced the university’s partnership with the corporation to over 12 years ago, when the NNPC started exploration activities in the Chad Basin, according to a statement on Monday by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughammadu.
The statement noted that the university VC described as an act of God the attack on the Frontier Exploration Services/Surface Geochemistry Sampling team, comprising the NNPC, consultants from UNIMAID as well as those attached to the Integrated Data Services Limited, a subsidiary of the NNPC and civilian escort team.
Njodi called on the NNPC to stand firm beside the university and the families of the bereaved to provide the needed support for them to overcome the setback brought by the insurgents’ attack.
However, Mohammed stated that the NNPC would do everything within its means to support the university and the families of the victims of the attack.
He said, “We have been great partners with the University of Maiduguri for many years and certainly when losses like this happen and under this circumstance, we cannot abandon our partners to their fate.”
The Deputy Governor, Borno State, Usman Durkwa, charged the NNPC not to allow the attack to dampen its morale in the quest for new oil finds in the region.