Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a full scale investigation into reports of high civilian casualties in the shooting war between Boko Haram insurgents and Nigeria’s soldiers at the weekend.
A press statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Reuben Abati said Jonathan ordered the probe after he ”received preliminary briefings from the Military High Command on the incident”.
The Red Cross confirmed a death toll of 187, while the Chief of Baga said 185 died.
President Jonathan hopes the probe will shed light on what really happened at Baga.
“While the preliminary briefings indicate that the casualty figures being reported by the foreign media may be grossly exaggerated, President Jonathan assures Nigerians and the global community that the Federal Government of Nigeria places the highest possible value on the lives of all citizens of the country and that his administration will continue to do everything possible to avoid the killing or injuring of innocent bystanders in security operations against terrorists and insurgents,” said Abati.
According to the statement, “Rules of engagement for the military and security agencies are already in place for this purpose and the investigation ordered by President Jonathan into the incident in Baga is to amongst other things, determine whether or not these rules were fully complied with.”
The President has also ordered the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and Federal health agencies to liaise with the Borno State Government and take urgent steps to provide immediate relief and medical support for all who suffered losses and injury in the fighting at Baga, said Abati.
Jonathan commiserated with the family of all those who lost their loved ones in the fighting, including the soldiers who gallantly made the supreme sacrifice in the operation against terrorism, insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria.
“The President is deeply pained by the continuance of these needless deaths and will continue to do all within his powers to achieve lasting peace, security and stability in all parts of the country. It is his hope and expectation that the National Committee which he will inaugurate on Wednesday for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of security challenges in the North will contribute significantly to ending the continuous loss of lives to wasteful violence.”