UN convoy attacked by Boko Haram amid denial by Nigerian army
The UN World Food Program (WFP) in Nigeria has reported the killing of four people in its convoy while travelling to deliver food aid in the north-east region.
The attack, on Saturday, 16 December, happened on the Maiduguri to Gamboru road, south west of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. Jane Howard, spokeswoman of the organisation, said in an emailed statement on Sunday, “WFP can confirm that a convoy escorted by the Nigerian military including WFP-hired trucks was the subject of an attack by armed groups 35km southwest of Ngala in Borno State on Saturday.” Jane confirmed that “four people, including the driver of a WFP-hired truck and a driver’s assistant, were killed in the incident,” the statement said, adding that “WFP is working with the authorities to determine the whereabouts of the trucks.”
The Nigerian Army, however denied the killing of the four in the attack saying: “There was an ambush but the soldiers killed six Boko Haram insurgents and recovered weapons. No civilian was killed.” Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, told the News Agency of Nigeria.
“I was in Dikwa that Saturday and this happened while I was within,” he insisted.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, condemned the attack: “Violence against convoys carrying humanitarian aid is unacceptable and can result in concerning limitations in our ability to provide life-saving relief to those who need it the most.”
He called on authorities to “ensure the safety of aid workers and aid convoys across the north-east of Nigeria, so people in need of assistance can access it in a timely manner and in sufficient quantity.” He said “Many lives are at risk,” Kallon stressed.
Despite the Army’s insistence on the defeat of Boko Haram, the Islamic jihadi sect continues to wreak havoc among communities and villages in north-eastern Nigeria. November this year saw a spike in the attacks and killings including soldiers.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.