By Isiaka Wakili
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, met service chiefs twice, within 48 hours over the killing of scores of soldiers and oil exploration team in northern Borno state.
The team had been ambushed by Boko Haram insurgents after exploration work in Magumeri, close to the shores of the Lake Chad.
The Team, made up of officials of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC and staff from the Geology Department, University of Maiduguri.They were escorted by soldiers and local vigilante group.
The Acting President first met defence chiefs on Thursday and again on Saturday as details of casualties emerged. At the meeting were the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali and the service chiefs.
Osinbajo directed the military and all security agencies to intensify counter-terrorist operations in Borno State in order to maintain a strong control and secure lives and property.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement yesterday, said the acting president directed the military to locate and free all the remaining abducted persons as soon as possible, “using all available and expedient means in the circumstances.”
He said Osinbajo assured the people that despite the resurgence of terrorist attacks in Borno, the Federal Government was determined to end the war and win the peace in the north-east.
He said the objective of working in the Lake Chad Basin Frontier Exploration was to open up new areas for oil exploration for the common good of Nigerians.
Mr. Akande said: “The terrorist attack resulted in a number of deaths of hardworking and innocent Nigerians, and the abduction of some.
“Prof. Osinbajo commiserates with the families, relatives and associates of those who lost their lives in the despicable onslaught and wishes the injured speedy recovery.”
He added: “Justice would be pursued for the victims and against those who engage in this kind of unacceptable, criminal and terrorist conduct.”
Osinbajo saluted the resilience, gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of the Armed Forces for the peace, security and territorial integrity of the country.
He eulogised the soldiers who had paid the ultimate price in this mission and others linked to the current insurgency, adding that the welfare of the families of the soldiers would be prioritised.
He lauded the diligence of the management and staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as well as the lecturers/consultants from the University of Maiduguri in pursuing the nation’s resolve to grow its crude oil reserve base through potential exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.
“Some of these extraordinarily selfless Nigerians from the NNPC and the University Of Maiduguri put their lives on the line that we and generations to come will enjoy the resources of this land. We will never forget that sacrifice”, he said.
Last night Mr Akande announced on his Twitter handle that the Acting President met again with the security chiefs on Saturday night to review progress on efforts towards rescuing the captives.
He said apart from the military chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; the Director-General of the Department of State Security, Lawal Daura and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources were also in attendance.
The acting president’s spokesman did not give the details of the discussion, but said the meeting was in continuation of Osinbajo’s close monitoring of the situation in Borno State.
Akande wrote: “In continuation of his close monitoring of Borno situation, Acting President Osinbajo met again last (Saturday) night with service chiefs, IGP, DSS, Petroleum Minister of State & co.
“The meeting reviewed progress on release & rescue (efforts) of abducted officials of UNIMAID & missing NNPC staff.”