Military authorities in the country are still having a lack of information on the whereabouts of the seven foreign hostages kidnapped last month by the Ansaru Islamist sect and rumoured to have been killed over the weekend.
The Joint Task Force, which is the lead security agency in Boko Haram troubled states of Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Kano and Adamawa, code-named Operation Restore Order, speaking through its spokesman, Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru, said the Army cannot comment on the whereabouts of the hostages, noting that the Defence Headquarters, which was the agency coordinating JTF operations bothering on internal security, should be the one to explain the true situation about the seven hostages.
He however spoke further on the activities of the Army and the vexed issue of explosives finding their way into the hands of terrorists, saying that the Defence Headquarters is partnering with the Ministry of Mines and Power on the control of and use of explosives to checkmate their getting into the hands of terrorists.
On the military operation in Mali, the Director said the Federal Government has procured 35 desert terrain vehicles for deployment to the Nigerian troop contingent taking part in AFISMA operations in Mali.
He said: “The vehicles would be deployed soon after some modification by the Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, as this is aimed at increasing the operational efficiency of Nigerian contingent.”
In the same vein, the Director of Defence Information, Colonel Mohammed Yerima, said he had no comment to make on the issue pointing out that the military authorities were not in the picture of the whereabouts of the foreign hostages.
It was however gathered that intense security searches are being conducted by all security agencies, including the military, Police, SSS, Para-military organisations with particular focus on the North-East zone of the country with a view to getting to the root of the issue of the hostages and nothing was being said to avoid endangering their lives if indeed they may be alive as suspected in some quarters.
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, has condemned reports on You-Tube over the alleged killing of the seven foreign hostages kidnapped by the Ansaru group.
“I don’t go by report on You-tube but by reality and concrete evidence,” the minister told African Heads of Diplomatic Mission in Abuja, yesterday.
The Ansaru group had on Saturday announced the death of all the expatriates abducted from a construction site of Lebanese company, Setraco, on February 16 in Bauchi.
He said: “Before you announce that hostages are either dead or alive, you must have evidence.
“I believe our security agencies are working around the clock to ensure that we either find the bodies or we release them alive.”
“So for now, there is no conclusive evidence as to the status of the hostages.”
The whole world will be informed. So it is better we wait until everything is confirmed.”