President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met separately with Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin, and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President’s separate meeting with the two service chiefs followed an official confirmation of the killing of five Nigerian soldiers, a colonel, a captain and three soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State in an ambush along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway.
Deputy Director, Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Isa Ado, in a statement in Abuja, said the incident occurred on Wednesday in Jakana area of the state, adding that the officers and soldiers were on transit from Maiduguri to Damaturu when they ran into an ambush by the terrorists.
Also in the meeting was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The Nigerian Army in a statement confirmed that a colonel, a captain and three soldiers were killed in an ambush by Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday.
Ado, however, said troops of 212 Battalion deployed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Jakana dealt with the insurgents, neutralizing an unconfirmed number of them, adding that Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists tried to infiltrate the military base to garner logistics, but were repelled by the troops.
According to him, the terrorists came at about 6.45pm in seven gun trucks and fought fiercely to infiltrate the camp, but the attack was thwarted with heavy fire and bombardment by the gallant troops, adding: “The terrorists could not withstand the fire power of the troops after losing significant number of equipment and personnel in an exchange of fire.
“They lost initiative and withdrew in disarray along Benisheikh-Damaturu axis and abandoned a damaged utility gun truck, which was earmarked to convey looted items.
“Troops immediately followed in hot pursuit and captured one anti-aircraft gun, two Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) tubes, two AK 47 Rifles, 15 machine gun rounds and 12 AK47 NATO rounds.
“Sadly, a colonel and a captain, as well as three soldiers on transit from Maiduguri to Damaturu ran into an ambush staged by the fleeing terrorists from the Jakana axis, which led to their unfortunate death.”
He said the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had commiserated with the families of the fallen heroes and Buratai reiterated that the Army would never be deterred in the ongoing “noble and patriotic fight against terrorism and insurgency in the northeast.”
According to him, Buratai commended the efforts of the entire troops in the theatre and charged them to remain focused, highly committed and professional in the discharge of their constitutional roles, noting:
“The sacrifices of the fallen heroes in the ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency is no doubt painful to all.
“But that will further spur us to do more to ensure that our country remains secure, peaceful and free from terrorist activities for the overall interest of the nation.”
Some Nigerians have bemoaned the continuous retention of Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai; Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, arguing that their continued retention was not only affecting the morale of military personnel, but also responsible for the inefficiency in the security strategies.