The Peoples Democratic Party, the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil rights groups, on Sunday, lashed out at the Federal Government for the killing of lecturers and oil workers on their way to the Lake Chad Basin by the Boko Haram sect.
Also, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has threatened to “call out” its members if its abducted members in the University of Maiduguri are not freed.
At least 48 people, including five lecturers of UNIMAID, about 15 soldiers, 11 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and workers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, were killed on Thursday on their way to prospect for crude oil in Barno Yasu in the Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno State.
The Nigerian Army had, in a statement on Friday by its spokesman, Brig-Gen. Sani Usman, said it had rescued some of the workers, who were attacked by the sect.
Shortly after the Army issued the statement, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said he was not aware of rescue.
In a statement on Saturday, the Army spokesperson, said the error in his earlier statement about the rescue of oil workers was “not deliberate”.
Stop deceiving Nigerians, B’ Haram still potent –PDP
The PDP called on the Federal Government to stop deceiving Nigerians with its claim that Boko Haram had been defeated.
It said events in the last few days had shown that the terror group was still very potent.
The party said it was sad with the claim by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof. Ibrahim Njodi, that four of the university’s workers were still missing.
Njodi also said five of the university’s workers were brought to the town dead, adding that nine staff of the university were killed.
The spokesperson for the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the issue in Abuja on Sunday, said Nigerians had known that the government was lying.
Adeyeye stated, “The celebration of the alleged defeat of Boko Haram was premature. There was no need for that celebration. It was based on false information and distortion of facts.
“Now, we have seen the result that Boko Haram was not defeated and that is why the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, ordered the Army chief to relocate to Maiduguri.
“This is a grand deception; you can see that.
“It has been a complete disaster. Of course, we can have challenges fighting Boko Haram, but they should not deceive Nigerians. That is very important.
“They (the government) went to start the oil exploration in order to deceive Nigerians and the international community that Boko Haram has been defeated. They will claim that after all, we are now there and exploring oil. It is all deceit.”
PDP’s statement over Borno incident tragic –APC
But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, described the statement by the PDP over the incident in Borno State as unfortunate.
He said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.
Abdullahi said, “What happened in Borno State was tragic. Our hearts go out to the families of those directly affected.
Having said that, I think it is a tragedy that the opposition party is trying to use this unfortunate incident to play politics. It is mere evidence that the battle against Boko Haram is not yet over.
“How many times did the PDP announce that Shekau has been killed during the last administration? They killed Shekau almost four times, was that not propaganda? How many times did the PDP government announce that they entered into a ceasefire with Boko Haram, was that not propaganda?
“I don’t think that when a tragic situation like this happens, we should see it as a time to play politics.
“At times like this, we need to come together as one people to face it and deal with it. We must forget, before APC came to power, Boko Haram was occupying 50,000 square kilometres of the Nigerian territory; that is not the case today.”
We’ll take decisive action if abducted members aren’t freed – ASUU
Also, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union would take action if the Federal Government did not strengthen security in UNIMAID and ensure the release of the abducted lecturers.
Ogunyemi told news reporters on Sunday, “Our union is no doubt saddened by the UNIMAID incident. It is a concrete manifestation of our fears all along. As far back as June 9, we expressed our fears about the alarming security situation in the Maiduguri metropolis and particularly in UNIMAID. Those fears we expressed are beginning to manifest concretely.
“The situation could have been better handled. Our members, who were carrying out their legitimate duties were made vulnerable to this experience.
‘‘We have told the government to take the necessary steps and get our members in captivity released or else, we may be forced to call out our members. But we are getting assurances now that the government is going to do the needful.”
CACOL, CDHR knock FG over Lake Chad oil exploration
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights knocked the Federal Government for failing to take appropriate security measures before dispatching the oil exploration team to the volatile Lake Chad area.
CACOL Chairman, Debo Adeniran, said such expedition was “needless and tactless” in the face of the vestiges of the Boko Haram terrorists in the region.
He said, “First and foremost, it is unnecessary for the government to prospect for oil wells in an insecure environment in the country. We have not made the most of the present oil wealth and why do we need more when we have enough to sell?
“To me, that was a senseless expedition.
“Another fact is that the intelligence arm of the Nigerian security system failed to acknowledge that the zone is dangerous for any form of such activity. It is a systemic failure on our part.
“As a matter of fact, it was like deliberately sending people to their early graves, knowing that the vestiges of the Boko Haram elements were active in that place. Even if the military had degraded the insurgents from the country, we have not degraded them from the neighbouring countries. The trip was reprehensible and certain people must be made to face the law for approving such a trip.”
On his part, the CHDR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “A team of oil explorers, whose exploration activities were in a war-torn area, ideally ought to have adequate security backup to prevent what has unfortunately befallen them. It tells us that the war against terrorism, despite the capture of Sambisa Forest, is not yet uhuru.
“The terrorists seemed to have access to information that a team of oil experts was near. Secondly, the insurgents mapped out their strategies and were successful in their dexterous activities.”
We celebrated victory over the sect too early, says NLC secretary
In his reaction, the General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, on his part, said the resurgence in the Boko Haram attacks on Borno communities and the killing of the oil workers and lecturers showed that the country celebrated the purported victory over the insurgency too early.
Ozo-Eson told news reporters on the telephone that the attack on the oil workers and the repeated attacks on UNIMAID by the terror group indicated that the country was still faced with the threat of the insurgents.
He stated, “We should distinguish between the debate on the decision to prospect for oil in the Chad Basin and the issue of what has now happened, that is the attack itself. What has happened is a security challenge and it increasingly demonstrated that we celebrated too early, the so-called defeat of Boko Haram.
“It appears that the matter is still very much with us. And we need to focus on that. Even without prospecting for oil, you find that there have been several attacks on the University of Maiduguri in the last few months.
‘‘It is clear that Boko Haram seems to be on ascendancy and we need to develop our capacity to be able to deal with that.”