Following the death of 69 people that were killed late last week in an ambush planned by Boko Haram, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo held emergency talks with top brass to discuss The attack, which targeted an oil exploration team in the northeastern state of Borno.
The attack was the worst since February 2 last year, when 58 people were killed in a twin suicide bomb attack at a camp for the displaced in the Borno town of Dikwa. Osinbajo’s spokesman Laolu Akande said the vice-president, standing in for President Muhammadu Buhari who is on indefinite sick leave, called the attack “appalling” and ordered Nigeria’s military to strengthen its response to Boko Haram.
The meeting with commanders on Thursday saw Osinbajo issue “fresh directives to Nigeria Military to immediately scale-up their efforts and activities in Borno state to maintain a strong, effective control of the situation”, he added. The ambush near Magumeri killed 19 soldiers, 33 militia members and 17 civilians, sources told AFP, while three staff members from the University of Maiduguri were kidnapped.
Analysts have said the attack, apparently by the Islamic State-supported faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi, was an indication of a newly emboldened Boko Haram. Nigeria’s military has long maintained the group, which in 2014 held territory across northeast Nigeria, is all but defeated as a result of its sustained counter-insurgency.
Osinbajo acknowledged that “pockets of terrorists have been launching attacks recently in Borno state”. But he said the government was “on top of the situation (and) will define the end of these atrocities by both winning the war and winning the peace in the northeast”.
At least 20,000 people have been killed in the Islamist insurgency since it began in 2009.