Military authorities secretly buried more than 1,000 soldiers, who were killed in the battle with insurgents, in a bid create the impression that the counter-insurgency had been won, The Wall Street Journal, has reported. The newspaper reported that military sources said the number of soldiers buried in that manner could be higher than 1,000.
But the Defense Headquarters has dismissed the report, saying it had no graveyards where soldiers were secretly buried. It said that fallen heroes were given full military burial according to global best practices. However, the paper insisted that on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno State in November, army commanders secretly moved corpses of soldiers from a morgue to unmarked graves at Maimalari.
Quoting soldiers, diplomats and senior government officials, the newspaper stated that the corpses were covertly transported in a truck from a mortuary in the dead of the night and buried in “trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift.”
“Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” said a soldier from the Maimalari barracks, where more than 1,000 soldiers are based. “They are dying and being deleted from history,” the soldier added. The newspaper quoted a senior government official as saying that the secret grave-site at Maimalari was not the only one in Nigeria’s troubled North-East.
Nigerian Army still struggling against insurgents It stated that although Buhari had “repeatedly claimed his army has won, the reality is that Africa’s largest land force—a US counter-terrorism ally—is struggling against an insurgency that first flared a decade ago and is now rejuvenated by the Islamic State and the return of fighters from Libya, Syria and Iraq.
“The insurgents now control hundreds of square miles of territory across four countries around the Lake Chad basin, a crossroads of Africa where the US, the UK and French military have bases or provide special-forces training. On Sunday, gunmen attacked a funeral on the outskirts of Maiduguri, killing at least 65 people, according to government officials.”
According to the report, Nigeria’s government last summer stopped reporting the deaths of soldiers in its fight with Boko Haram insurgents and a splinter group that calls itself Islamic State West Africa Province, or ISWAP.
The Wall Street Journal quoting military officials stated, “The sprawling secret graveyard in Maiduguri and an official cemetery at the base, the operational command for the north-eastern front in Borno State, now hold the bodies of at least 1,000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began an offensive last summer.”