Last Tuesday, Boko Haram militants ambushed a joint military-police convoy travelling along the newly opened Maiduguri-Biu federal highway. The incident left three people dead, six injured, and several women abducted, amongst whom were top female police officers. But the latter did not make the news until recently when a video from Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, surfaced.
In the video released two days ago, Shekau claimed responsibility for the attack, mocking the Nigerian army and government for their insistent claims of victory. “So, this is to tell you that we did the Damboa road ambush; and the operation had put a lie to all claims of Nigeria soldiers, the police and other top government officials that they have finished Boko Haram,” Shekau said.
Exactly a week ago, BH attacked a police convoy and made away with female officers. What has the official response from govt been?
— Tunde Leye (@tundeleye) June 27, 2017
The long silent leader of the insurgents went on to disclose their conquests of a few policewomen, which according to him, is “not a big deal” when compared to what the government and soldiers had done to the wives and children of Boko Haram. Once the video was published, two things became clear from the reactions of Nigerians; many were not aware of an abduction, not to mention the abduction of police officers. Secondly, the government has said absolutely nothing about the abduction, leaving room for people to question the validity of Shekau’s claim.
The flippant statement of denial from the Nigerian Police Force does nothing to aid the situation either. It is understandable the embarrassment that the authorities feel, but denying what happened is wrong and utterly ridiculous. The public is concerned that the government is either hoarding information or trying to suppress it. What else can explain the silence about the abduction of law enforcement officers?
This administration seems to have developed a penchant for being quiet when it matters most. Perhaps never expecting the public to ask questions or demand accountability. The matter at hand raises several questions, none of which the authorities have provided an answer to. If anything, their silence and denial have spurred more agitation and distrust.