Embarrassed by reports that close to 500 Nigerian soldiers fled into Cameroonian to escape from heavily armed Boko Haram insurgents, Nigerian military authorities today posted a statement claiming that the soldiers had charged into the neighboring West African country in a tactical maneuver. Cameroonian officials had told the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that at least 480 Nigerian soldiers had been disarmed and were being held in the protective custody of their gendarmes after the soldiers crossed into Cameroon while fleeing from a fierce attack by the Islamist insurgents.
But in a post on its website, Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters claimed that the Nigerian troops found in Cameroun resulted from a sustained battle between the troops and the terrorists around the borders with Cameroun, adding that the Nigerian soldiers charged through the borders in a tactical maneuver.
“Eventually [the soldiers] found themselves on Cameroonian soil,” the Nigerian military stated. The release added: “Being allies the normal protocol of managing such incident demanded that the troops submit their weapons in order to assure the friendly country that they were not on a hostile mission.
“Following necessary discussions between Nigerian and Cameroonian military authorities, the issues have been sorted out. Subsequently, the troops are on their way back to join their unit in Nigeria.
“The reference to the incidence as a defection is therefore not appropriate considering the discussion between the two countries’ military leadership and the series of contacts with the soldiers who have confirmed that they are safe.
“Meanwhile, troops are repelling a group of terrorists who are trying to enter the country through Gamboru-Ngala. A group of them who fizzled into the town are being pursued.”