The Nigerian Army yesterday asked Chairman of Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, to prove his claim that 847 soldiers had been lost to Boko Haram insurgency in the last six years.
This is coming as Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State and his counterpart in Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, yesterday called on the federal government to provide a special security subvention to North-west states ravaged by banditry to adequately fund the peace deal and other security operations initiated by the governors.
Ndume, who spoke with reporters after contributing at Senate plenary to the debate on the general principle of the 2020 budget proposal, said the casualty figure was sourced from military authorities last week.
But the military said the senator needed to substantiate his claim, even as it would not take issue with the federal legislator.
He said: “The casualty figure of 847 was gotten from the Army last Thursday when the National Assembly joint Committee on Army visited the war theatre in Borno State.
“The Boko Haram insurgents don’t only attack civilians but the military as well. So far, from the record we saw in the cemetery, I think we lost over 847 soldiers – by their record there and that is from 2013 till date.”
But in a swift response, Army’s spokesman, Colonel Sagir Musa, asked the senator to provide evidence of the killings.
“If he says so, then he should substantiate. What is his source? Let him provide it,” Sagir told TheCable.
Also responding to the issue, the spokesman of Defence Headquarters, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said: “Regrettably, at the moment, I am not able to ascertain the statistics of fatalities of the ongoing counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the North-east.
“However, I can emphatically say that we are at war in the North-east and our victory so far over the terrorists is at a price. We’ve had human and equipment’s casualties in combating terrorism and insurgency. The Armed Forces has paid the supreme price to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria, as well as guarantee the protection and safety of Nigerians.”