The Military High Command and the National Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday presented a preliminary report of the investigation conducted into the recent massacre in Baga, Borno State, to President Goodluck Jonathan, declaring that only 36 persons lost their lives in the carnage.
The report contradicts the 185 casualties widely reported by the media.
The report, presented to the President by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also confirmed that the confrontation that led to the massacre was between members of the Boko Haram and the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Addressing State House correspondents, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the report indicated that 30 terror suspects died in the town, while six other corpses were recovered in the neighbouring Lake Chad.
He added that the report quoted NEMA as saying only 32 fresh graves were found in the town after the clash.
The presidential spokesman, who also said no mass grave was found in the town contrary to reports, added that the number of houses razed in the confrontation was grossly exaggerated.
According to him, the burnt houses were less than 1,000.
Abati said as at April 25, about 642 displaced persons had registered in the various rehabilitation camps as more locals, who had earlier fled the community, had started returning.
He said, ‘In its preliminary report to the President, the Defence Headquarters stated as follows:
‘That the military team involved in the confrontation with Boko Haram elements was the Multinational Joint Task Force. The MNJTF’s initial mandate was to conduct military operations in the Lake Chad Region and to facilitate free movement of the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission across their common border.
‘The mandate was expanded in April 2012 to include the fight against terrorists. The Task Force’s activities are therefore legal and need to be sustained.
‘On April 17, MNJTF troops carried out mop up operations at the scene of the attack and recovered the following items abandoned by the fleeing Boko Haram terrorists: rocket-propelled grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenade bombs, AK 47 rifles, assorted ammunition, several improvised explosive devices and damaged Land Cruiser jeeps.
‘That whereas it was alleged that 185 people were killed by the soldiers of the MNJTF in Baga, Borno State; the assessment team received a briefing from the Commander of the MNJTF on April 24, 2013, during which he stated that 30 terrorists were killed in action. However, six bodies were recovered in Lake Chad about three km away from the action spot.’