The Nigerian Army (NA) on Friday said it lost 29 personnel while 61 others sustained varying injuries during last week’s ambush of troops at Goniri and Gorgi by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs).
The military had earlier told reporters that initial information available indicated that 47 own forces were killed in the attacks that occurred on March 22 and 23, noting that further verification would be given after stocks must have been taken at the bases of troops attached to Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
Making the clarifications on Friday, the army said the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai sent a delegation led by Chief of Training and Operations (Army), Maj.-Gen. Enobong Udoh to the northeast to ascertain the State of affairs.
Others in the delegation which spent two days in the area included Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo, Director, Campaign Planning, Maj.-Gen. Christopher Musa and Deputy Director, Peacekeeping Operations, Colonel Samaila Uba, said NA Operations Media Coordinator Col. Aminu Iliyasu .
“On arrival at Maiduguri at about 6pm on March 24, the COAS proceeded straight to the Headquarters, Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, where he was briefed on the said encounter by the Theatre Commander, Maj.-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi. The Theatre Commander explained that, on March 22, having captured and cleared Gorgi of the criminal Boko Haram insurgents, he led the troops to harbour about five kilometers ahead of the location. “However, at about 7am on March 22, when the troops were preparing to continue with their advance to clear other Boko Haram enclaves in the area, the criminal insurgents attacked the rear elements of the advance force in an attempt to overrun them.
“The gallant troops repelled the attack, inflicting heavy casualty on the terrorists. In the aftermath of that encounter, no less than 150 Boko Haram terrorists were neutralised by the gallant troops while a large number of them retreated with gunshot wounds. Many of their equipment were also destroyed. “However, 29 personnel of Operation LAFIYA DOLE paid the supreme price during the encounter as a result of the multiple explosions that occured when the engine of an army truck conveying artillery bombs, explosives and other munitions caught fire after being hit by a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) bomb fired by the criminal insurgents.
“He added that a few other soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries and were evacuated to the 7 Division Hospital Maimalari Cantonment where they are responding to treatment.”
Iliyasu said the delegation proceeded to Headquarters Sector 2 in Damaturu after a thorough briefing by the Theatre Commander on Wednesday morning, March 25.
He said the COAS addressed the troops that took part in the Gorgi operations, adding that they were in high spirits following their resounding victory over the terrorists during the encounter.
“The Chief of Army Staff commended the troops and informed them that the Nigerian Army, and indeed the entire nation are proud of their gallantry, patriotism and professionalism demonstrated by them in service to their fatherland.
“He also informed them that the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari was proud of their gallantry, patriotism and resolve to defend the territorial integrity of their fatherland. He noted that the President had given assurances of his continous support to them in the area of their welfare and equipment.
“The Chief of Army Staff also enjoined them to remain focused on the task at hand towards ensuring that all the remnants of the evil Boko Haram terrorists group are totally decimated and that their notorious activities are effectively brought to an end.
“Thereafter, the Chief of Army Staff’s representative presented each of the troops with welfare items including a brand new pair of desert camouflage uniform sent to each of them by the Chief of Army Staff in order to further motivate them.
“From Damaturu, the Chief of Army Staff proceeded to the Army Super Camp NGAMDU where he addressed the troops of Operation HARBIN KUNAMA IV. He informed the troops that he was indeed very proud of their discipline, general conduct as well as their achievements so far as they continue their onerous training sessions at the camp.
“He enjoined them to translate this high standard into good and commendable operational performance once they complete their training programmes at the camp. The Chief of Army Staff equally used the opportunity to inspect facilities at the newly established Army Super Camp with a view to addressing any shortcomings.
“On his return to Maiduguri at about 4:10pm on the same day, the Chief of Army Staff and his entourage proceeded to the 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital in Maimalari Cantonment to visit the troops who sustained various degrees of injuries during the encounter at Gorgi. On arrival at the 7 Division Hospital, the Chief of Army Staff was received by the Commander, Colonel Abudu Omogbethai who briefed him on the state of the wounded personel that were admitted at the hospital as a result of the encounter.
“In his brief, the Commander informed the Chief of Army Staff that a total of 61 troops comprising 7 officers and 32 soldiers who sustained various degrees of injury were currently receiving attention at the hospital. This is in addition to a total of 29 soldiers comprising of 4 officers and 25 soldiers who unfortunately paid the supreme price.
“The Chief of Army Staff then proceeded to visit all the wounded troops at the various hospital wards where they were being treated. During the visit, the Chief of Army Staff commended the wounded troops for their gallantry and patriotism in the service of the nation. He assured them that all necessary measures will be taken to guarantee their expeditious recovery while also praying that the souls of our departed colleagues rests in perfect peace.
“Some token welfare items including new uniforms were equally distributed to all the wounded soldiers to further motivate them. The Chief of Army Staff’s representative ended his two-day visit at the hospital at about 5:30pm on March 25.”