27 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – At least seven persons kidnapped by Boko Haram on Tuesday, including some Nigerian scientists exploring for oil in Borno State, have been freed, an official has said.
Yesterday, it was reported how a yet to be confirmed number of oil explorers hired by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was kidnapped by the terror group, alongside their security aides.
The victims were part of the team exploring for crude in the Lake Chad basin.
Report reaching our correspondent in Abuja suggests that at least seven of the abducted persons including members of the NNPC exploration crew were freed after a rescue-mission embarked upon by a joint force of soldiers and local security personnel.
Though security agencies have not spoken officially about the incident, sources in Borno said the scientists and engineers who were moving alongside some personnel of the Civilian-JTF, were ambushed near a village called Jibi in Gubio Local Government Area.
A top personnel of the NNPC currently on exploration duty in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State confirmed that the whereabouts of some officials could not be ascertained.
The source, who pleaded not to be named due to the sensitivity of the information, said most of the personnel that are “supposed to be at the location where they were reportedly attacked could not be reached through their special devices of communication.”
“I have just received a call from our head office asking us to confirm the attack if we have had any contact with our personnel who were supposed to be at the location where they were reportedly attacked.
“We tried reaching some of our boys that were recently deployed from Alkaleri project site through our crew channel and we could not get them”, he said.
The council chairman of Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno State, Mallam Zanna Modu, informed journalists via a phone interview that the rescue was effected on Wednesday after a heated gun battle between soldiers and members of the terror group.
Mr. Modu said of the abducted persons, the troops were able to rescue four civilian-JTF members, two NNPC personnel and a staff of the University of Maiduguri.
The chairman said a large number of Boko Haram fighters were killed during the shootout. He added that some vehicles belonging to the NNPC were also recovered.
The NNPC had confirmed that it subcontracted part of the exploration to the Geology department of the University of Maiduguri.
The NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, confirmed the kidnap to our correspondent in Abuja. He said those abducted were not NNPC direct staff but sub-contractors.
A department in the NNPC responsible for the exploration sub-contracted part of the work to the Geology department of the University of Maiduguri as part of efforts to encourage indigenous scientists, the spokesperson explained.
It is those employees of the University geology department that were kidnapped, he said.
The University of Maiduguri authority has declined comment on the abduction incident, citing security concerns.
It is not yet clear if any of the abducted oil workers or their security aides still remain with the Boko Haram.