Soldiers allegedly shoot SARS operatives who confronted Boko Haram

On Monday, January 20, 2020, a team of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives who repelled Boko Haram insurgents in a fierce battle, almost got killed as soldiers repeatedly opened fire on them.

According to The Cable, there was confusion in Mainok, a town along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road in Borno, as the insurgents invaded in large numbers. While the soldiers deployed to the area and villagers took cover as the insurgents reigned unchallenged, a combined team of SARS and Rapid Response Squad (RRS) officials confronted the insurgents. A SARS official who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that the combined police team spent over one hour battling the Boko Haram insurgents. He explained that after the Boko Haram fighters beat a retreat, the policemen were attacked by soldiers, as they were trying to make their way out from the location. The SARS operatives said his team members were shocked that the soldiers could attack them. He said, “We were deployed in Mainok after we got the information that Boko Haram was operating there. By the time we got there, Boko Haram had killed some people and destroyed their houses. “We engaged them in a gun battle that lasted for over one hour. We overpowered them and seized two of their Hilux vehicles and weapons. Surprisingly as we were on our way out, we were attacked by some soldiers. They fired several RPGs (rocket propelled grenade) at us… one of the armoured personnel carriers (APCs) given to us by the IG was partially damaged. The police source however said the officer who led the operation ordered his men not to fire back at the soldiers, adding that things got under control after a reinforcement team of soldiers from Benisheikh, a neighbouring town, got to the location.

In a video published by The Cable, the commander of SARS, Ibrahim Muhammad narrated how his men tackled the Boko Haram insurgents and the encounter with the soldiers
“When we got there, we saw them (Boko Haram fighters); their identity was not even in doubt. Some were even taking cover beside the wall. We were on them, we were charging in, charging out,” Muhammad said in the video. “Later, we noticed that they had escaped, the RRS briefed me that while they sighted them (the insurgents) moving in convoy on high speed at the southern part. We were then charging in finally, that was when I noticed that the people on my right hand side were soldiers… As we were coming, they were firing us and I said is it this people again?” Interrupting Muhammad, Abdul Kahlifa, the General Officer Commanding 7 division of the Army, promised that the matter will be investigated. While briefly inspecting the bullet holes on the armoured personnel carriers, Kahlifa stated, “No problem, we are going to sort it out. Are we not happy to see you people like this? Are you people not happy to see us like this? That is how it should be. Well done! Well done.”

According to a soldier who refused to disclose his identity because he wasn't authorised to speak on the matter, aggression was the main reason his colleagues opened fire on the policemen. Boko Haram terrorists dislodged troops in that area and abducted about 10 soldiers. When the other soldiers who were not on ground at the time of the attack came back, they had an order to just open fire. So, they started shooting with that aggression," The Cable quoted the soldier as saying. Following the incident, Mohammed Aliyu, the Commissioner of Police in Borno, and Olusegun Adeniyi, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, have met over the issue.

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