The Nigerian Army has admitted that it never rescued members of the oil exploration team and staff of the University of Maiduguri, who were abducted by Boko Haram in Yesu district, Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno State on Thursday. The admission was made in a statement issued by Brigadier-General SK Usman, Director, Army Public Relations.
The abduction followed an ambush of Army troops and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) escorting Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) staff and those of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID).
The Army spokesman, who initially issued a statement saying all the NNPC staff in the exploration team had been rescued, said the claim was a regrettable error.
"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," said Brigadier-General Usman.
He also stated that troops have intensified efforts towards rescuing the remaining civilians in Boko Haram captivity. The Army's search and rescue team, he disclosed, has recovered additional bodies of five soldiers, 11 Civilian JTF and five members of the exploration team.
Brigadier-General Usman explained that only six out of 12 members of the exploration team are still missing, while one NNPC staff has returned to his base alive.
He revealed that the Army pursuit team has recovered two Army gun trucks and a Toyota Buffalo gun truck owned by Boko Haram. In addition to these, the pursuit team recovered 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 and eight tyres.
Also recovered were 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, bows and arrows, LLG Bombs, assorted drugs and assorted working tools.
Other items recovered, according to the Army spokesman, were one Motorola Radio, one Geographical Positioning System (GPS), empty Jerry cans, food coolers. The statement also bore words of condolence to the families of the victims and reiterated that search and rescue efforts are ongoing.
"We are counting on the goodwill and support of the populace in volunteering valuable information that could help in the search and rescue operation. 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," said the Army.