Emotions ran high as the Nigerian Army buried 19 of its 23 troops killed in the Metele attack by Boko Haram, last month. Lt. Colonel Ibrahim Sakaba and 22 soldiers of 157 Task Force Battalion, Metele, Abadam Local Government Area, Borno State, who died in the gun-battle against Boko Haram on November 18 were buried on Friday in a solemn military ceremony at Army Cantonment Cemetery, Maiduguri.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the troops paid the supreme price in the battle to keep the Northeast region safe. Buratai, who was represented by the army’s Chief of Training and Operations, Maj. Gen Lamidi Adeosun, said the names of the “fallen heroes will be written in gold” whenever the history of the counter-insurgency operation is documented.
He appealed to the families and relations of the officer and soldiers to mourn the deceased personnel with the understanding of the huge role they have played in keeping the country at peace. He said the army would not leave them alone but ensure that the entitlements of the fallen personnel were given to their families.
Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen Benson Akinroluyo said there have been an upsurge in Boko Haram attacks in recent times, the Metele incident being the most recent and painful attack.
“The BH attack on troops’ location at Metele on 18 November 2018, is one of those events that will always be remembered in the history of Operation Lafiya Dole and the sacrifices that our gallant officers and soldiers have made in the fight against insurgency,” he said
He said the Nigerian Army lost 23 of her best officers and soldiers while 31 were wounded in the attack. “The theatre has lost valuable equipment and more painfully, officers and soldiers who have had to lay down their lives in defence of our nation,” he disclosed.
In another development, the military has suspended the operations of United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) from the Northeast over allegation of training spies to monitor the counter-insurgency operation.
Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole in a statement said it got credible information that UNICEF was training and deploying “spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers.” It said the organisation has suspended till further notice.
“There is credible information that some of them are indulging in unwholesome practices that could further jeopardise the fight against terrorism and insurgency,” Operation Lafiya Dole spokesman, Col Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement.
It alleged the organisation has abdicated its primary duty of providing humanitarian supports to children affected by Boko Haram violence. It said, “UNICEF now engaged in training selected persons for clandestine activities to continue sabotaging the counter-terrorism and counter- insurgency efforts of troops through spurious and unconfirmed allegations bothering on alleged violations of human rights by the military.”
In the same vein, the Nigerian Army has appointed a new General Officer Commanding (GOC), and other operational commanders to man its various units and commands across the country.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, made this known in a statement, said all the postings are with immediate effect.