28 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has said the government does not have all the information about the number of oil workers and other scientists reportedly working for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation at a location in Borno State, were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants.
Kachikwu, however, described as welcome development the report of some rescue of victims, adding that an official confirmation from the military authorities in line with established protocol, is awaited.
Kachikwu stated this during a press briefing in Abuja to provide “informed perspective” on the unfortunate armed attack on the Frontier Exploration Services/Surface Geochemistry Sampling team comprising of the NNPC, Consultants from University of Maiduguri, Military and Civilian escort team in the Magumeri area of Borno State on the 25th of July 2017.
The Nigerian Army, in a statement by its spokesperson, Sani Usman, confirmed that at least nine soldiers and a civilian were killed after Boko Haram members kidnapped Nigerian oil workers who were on an oil exploration mission in the Lake Chad basin.
Kachikwu explained that, “On July 25, 2017 at about 1630hrs at Borno Yesu village between Magumeri and Gubio Local Government Areas of Borno State, the convoy of the NNPC Frontier Exploration Services (FES) and Surface Geochemistry Sampling Crew comprising of two consultants attached to the Integrated Data Services Limited, an NNPC subsidiary, one consultant attached to the Frontiers Exploration Services, FES of the NNPC, nine (9) external consultants from the University of Maiduguri, Military personnel and members of the Civilian JTF escort team were ambushed by suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
“The team was returning to Maiduguri town after conducting survey mapping /Geological study of part of Lake Chad Basin, in preparation for re-entry for seismic activities.”
He commiserated with the victims and stated that following the incident, the security agencies were notified and a search and rescue team of the 5th Brigade of the Nigerian Army quickly deployed to the location for possible rescue of missing victims.
He further stated that an in-house security team comprising of NNPC security operatives and others was quickly dispatched to Maiduguri to liaise with other stakeholders in the incident investigation area.
The Army spokesperson, Usman, a brigadier general, also said the kidnapped oil workers, who were recruited by the state oil firm, NNPC, had been rescued.
“So far, they (troops) have rescued all the NNPC staff and recovered the corpses of the officer, 8 soldiers and a civilian who have been deposited at the 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital,” Mr. Usman said without giving the total number of rescued NNPC officials.
Mr. Usman added that the soldiers recovered 4 vehicles, one of which includes a gun truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, two white Hilux vans, and a blue one belonging to the Civilian Joint Task Force.
“The team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans of containing petroleum, oil and lubricant, assorted drugs, Improvised Explosive Device, IEDs, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others.
“The team also neutralized many of the terrorists,” said.
Meanwhile, one of the persons killed by the Boko Haram during the kidnap of oil workers in Borno State has been buried.
The deceased, Idris Njodi, was a younger brother of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Abubakar Njodi.
He was among those killed after Boko Haram members ambushed and kidnapped workers who were part of an NNPC team on oil exploration in the Lake Chad basin.
At least 27 people died after rescue efforts by soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, CJTF. The victims included soldiers, CJTF members, and university staff.
Mr. Njodi was one of the five members of staff of the university killed in the attack and was buried after a ceremony on Thursday at the university.
The university has not officially confirmed the death of the five staff members who the NNPC said were part of a geological team contracted by the oil corporation to carry out exploration services in the trouble Lake Chad region.
Members of the university community gathered in their hundreds at the funeral of the deceased who, until his death, was one of the senior drivers of the institution.
The VC, Abubakar Njodi, led other top staff members at the funeral which was performed at the university’s central mosque.