No less than 30 killed in Boko Haram ambush in Boreyesu village
Not less than 30 personnel of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) and the Nigerian Army were moulded down by the deadly Boko Haram ambush last Tuesday in Borno State.
The NNPC staff and geologists / technologists from the Geology Department of UNIMAID were returning from the Lake Chad Basin where they had gone to explore for oil when they fell into the ambush.
They were being escorted by the Nigerian Army and Civilian Joint Task Force, (JTF), personnel. Although the military initially claimed that one army officer and eight soldiers were killed in the ambush and all the NNPC officials rescued, a top security official involved in the operation to rescue the victims told said that it was difficult to give the exact number of casualty as some of the victims, travelling in a convoy of about 10 vehicles, were set ablaze and burnt beyond recognition.
The Borneyesu village, where the incident happened, is North West of Magumeri Local Government Area of the State.
It shares borders with Jilli village in Gubio Local Government Area and some communities in neighbouring Yobe State.
It was reliably learnt that Bornoyesu is a stronghold of Boko Haram and that due to the volatile environment, even the military, aware of that fact, hardly operates in the axis.
In fact, as fertile as land is said to be in Borneyesu, farmers, hunters and firewood fetchers in nearly communities, a resident said, do not attempt to reach Bornoyesu.
Unconfirmed reports, however, put the number of soldiers killed in the attack at 18 while 15 members of the Civilian JTF lost their lives.
The Vice Chancellor of UNIMAID, Professor Ibrahim Njodi, said five members of staff of the institution died, listing them to include two geologists, two technologists and a driver.
The deceased driver was said to be the VC’s brother, Idris Abubakar Njodi. The other deceased university staffs were identified as Dr Manager N. Uba, Dr Joseph V. Miletus and Dr N.Y. Solomon. Njodi also said four other staff members of UNIMAID involved in the attack were missing.
The missing staff, according to him were two lecturers, one technologist and a driver. The missing persons were identified as Dr Solomon Jojori, Mallam Yusuf Ibrahim and Alhaji Kalo Mohammed.
The trio were believed to be in the picture sent to some media houses at the weekend by Boko Haram as having been abducted during the Tuesday attack.
Some UNIMAID staff claimed to have recognised the three missing persons in the picture. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNIMAID Chapter, Dani Mamman, said the university had received the corpses of four of the slain staff, saying two of them were lecturers.
There has been no official statement from the NNPC on the casualty figure of its staff although reports put it at four.
Four NNPC officials initially scheduled to be in the oil exploration mission were also said to have missed the trip.
A source gisclosed that the schedule changed at the last minute to put them in other official assignments in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
Narrating how the attack happened, two survivors, both members of the Civilian JTF, said hundreds of Boko Haram participated, overwhelming the security men escorting the returning exploration team with their superior firepower.
One of the Civilian JTF members, who identified himself as Umaru Idi, added that he miraculously escaped with minor injuries in the attack, adding that 14 members of his group killed in the incident were buried in Magumeri.
According to him, the soldiers attached to them did their best to contain the attack, but because they were few, the Boko Haram fighters overwhelmed them with their superior firepower coming from all directions.
“They fired RPG (rocket propelled grenades)to take out the pilot vehicle and another military operational vehicle in the middle.
We were all confused and in-between the sporadic gunfire from soldiers and Boko Haram fighters. Some of us lay on the ground, others took to their heels. For over an hour, there was exchange of fire from the soldiers and Boko Haram fighters until soldiers based in Magumeri and Gubio came to disperse them”, he narrated.
“After they left, the soldiers pursued them and a fighter helicopter also came. Then towards the evening, we were still there when reinforcement came and we started to evacuate.
We buried about 14 Civilian JTF in Magumeri, who were badly injured; we could not bring their remains with other dead bodies that family members could identify.
“The soldiers who died were taken to the barracks while others were taken to UMTH. There were some corpses that were identified to be soldiers and they took them back to the barracks after they were brought to the hospital. Some of our friends, who are badly injured, are in need of help. Some people, even doctors in the hospital, are helping.”.
‘Grace of God’ The other survivor, Ahmed Modu, now receiving treatment at the Specialist Hospital in Missouri, said it was by the grace of God that he survived.
He said, “We were in one of our patrol vehicles when we heard heavy sounds of gun-fire. AA Guns and explosions came from all directions. Some of us jumped out of the vehicles and took to our heels”.
It was a pathetic scene after the families of the oil explorers thronged the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, (UMTH), to identify the bodies of the victims conveyed to the hospital by troops. Many members of the families wept openly as they could not find their loved ones among the dead. Mr. Ibrahim John, a member of the family of one of the victims, Dr. Solomon Jojori of the UNIMAID Geology Department, said, “Our kinsman, Dr. Solomon Jojori of the Geology Department, who was part of the oil exploration mission, we have seen and counted 27 bodies brought from the scene of attack on Tuesday, but he was not among them. We don’t know whether he is still alive or dead”.
Initial report Initial report said at least four members of the Civilian JTF, two NNPC staff and one official of the UNIMAID Geology Department had been rescued from the insurgents as troops of 5 Brigade, Gubio pursued and overwhelmed the fleeing terrorists after the ambush, killing scores of them while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
The operation, led by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Gen. Aminu Shehu Chinide, and leader of Civilian JTF in Gubio, Bulama Bukar Maradona, resulted in the recovery of several arms and ammunitions and four vehicles conveying the victims snatched by the insurgents.