The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) on Friday denied any recent attack on its troops and killing of 18 soldiers in its area of responsibility.
Spokesman of the task force, Col. Timothy Antigha, said in a statement on Friday in Abuja, that online media report on the purported attack was false.
The online reports had claimed that 18 soldiers were killed when a faction of Boko Haram affiliated to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked a military formation.
According to Antigha, the reported attack and killing are falsehood being orchestrated by the media arm of ISWAP in its desperate attempt to revamp it parlous and deplorable image.
He said that the desperation followed several weeks of devastating operational losses the group suffered in the Lake Chad Area.
“It has been widely reported and it is now common knowledge that sustained offensive actions by MNJTF troops and national forces have resulted in over 200 ISWAP personnel casualties and defections as well as numerous equipment seizures and destruction.
“The claim of killing 18 MNJTF personnel in an unnamed location is, therefore, very strange and completely untrue.
“Consequently, the general public is advised to disregard the ISWAP falsehood in its entirety, ” Antigha said.
He urged the media to remain vigilant in order to frustrate attempts by terrorists to spread falsehood and propaganda in a bid to disrupt public order, peace and civility.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Zamfara State House Assembly, Alhaji Sanusi Rikiji, on Friday said no fewer than 50 persons, including members of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) were killed in Zamfara on Tuesday.
Rikiji, who revealed this during a condolence visit to Kaura Namoda emirate, attributed the incidence to CJTF confrontation with bandits in a community in Kaura Namoda Local Government Area of the state.
The Speaker, who led the state government delegation on the visit, decried the worsening security situation in the state.
“We were told that the members of Civilian JTF have mobilised people from Sakajiki community in Kaura Namoda Local Government Area and confronted the bandits in the forest which led to the killing of over 50 persons, including members of CJTF,” he said.
Rikiji, who is the Chairman of the State Government Relief and Damage Assessment Committee, described the act of the CJTF as unprofessional, saying ”confronting the bandits is not the duty of CJTF members.
“Their duty is to support security personnel to carry out operations, not to lead operations; only security agents have the right to organise operation to confront bandits,” he added.
He urged traditional rulers in the state to caution CJTF members in their respective domain to avoid taking laws into theirs hands.
“This is the directive from Governor Abdul’aziz Yari that CJTF members should not confront bandits again; let them cooperate with the security personnel.
“We have already received the list of the number of the deceased and other affected victims from the local government Chairman aimed at assisting them.
“The state government would provide assistance to the families of the deceased and other victims of the incident very soon,” he added.
Responding, the Emir of Kaura Namoda, Alhaji Muhammad Asha, thanked the state government for the gesture and assured of his palace’s continued support and cooperation with government to address the problem.
He said the emirate had embarked on special prayers to seek Allah’s intervention over the security challenges in the state.
“We have already mobilised our Imams of Jumu’at Mosque and Ulamas to offer special prayers in this regard during Jumu’at prayers,” the emir said.
The Chairman of the council, Alhaji Lawal Abdullahi, thanked the state government for the assistance to the victims.
Abdullahi assured of the council’s continued support to the state and federal government in fighting insecurity in the area and the state.