Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Army yesterday denied reports that 101 soldiers and officers deserted the theatre of war after clashes with insurgents in Marte and Dikwa in Borno State.
A statement signed by the Spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, said that the claim that 100 soldiers deserted the battlefield was unfounded.
Yerima said a headcount conducted after a military offensive showed an error in an internal correspondence generated by the formation and that an assessment carried out later showed that most of the troops rejoined their units.
He said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a publication in a section of the media alleging that over a 100 Nigerian troops were reported to have absconded after Boko Haram attacks on Marte and Dikwa.
“This publication is false, unfounded and an attempt to malign the image and character of the Nigerian Army.
“For the records, in the fog of war, it is a routine that head count is conducted to determine the number of men and equipment holding aftermath of military offensive.
“Unfortunately, an internal correspondence that was originated by the formation was not properly done. It was later discovered that a good number of those affected rejoined their respective units and are currently part of the ongoing clearance operations.”
The statement urged the public to disregard the story that was targeted at dampening the morale and fighting efficiency of troops. “We continually solicit the much needed public support in the fight against Boko Haram. The Nigerian Army wishes to reassure the general public that troops are in high spirit and currently clearing areas infiltrated by Boko Haram terrorists/ISWAP.
“It is on record that the troops fought to defend the Internally Displaced Persons Camp and the United Nations’ Humanitarian Hub in Dikwa. It is pertinent to also note that normalcy has returned to Dikwa and its environs,” Yerima said.