The US government has dispatched a team of State Department officials to meet with top Nigerian government officials this week in Abuja to determine the actual circumstances of the Baga massacre between Boko Haram terrorists and the Nigerian military, Empowered Newswire reports.
While the US-based Human Rights Watch, has accused the Nigerian military for the massacre claiming that over 185 people were killed and thousands of houses destroyed, the Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Prof. Ade Adefuye, said the satellite pictures released by the human rights organisation were insufficient to determine who was responsible for the carnage.
The Empowered Newswire report indicated that US officials were in a dilemma over which of the disparate accounts to believe, hence the team’s visit.
Adefuye, according to the report, has confirmed that the US government’s team would be meeting in Abuja with officials of the Nigerian foreign affairs ministry, Ministry of Justice and the National Security Adviser, among others over the Boko Haram issue and especially the recent Baga massacre.
The ambassador said the Nigerian Embassy had also met with the US team that visited Nigeria last week to review the situation.
“When they came here to meet with us at the embassy we made it clear that the claims on the casualties have been excessively exaggerated,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Space Research and Development Agency on Monday presented to a meeting attended by top security chiefs images of Baga captured before and after the April 15 confrontation between insurgents and the Multinational Task Force.
However, the presentation of the images to the media, which was to hold in Abuja on same Monday, was put off with officials citing the meeting of the satellite agency with security chiefs as the reason for the postponement.
But it was learnt that the presentation of the images to the media could not hold because of the need to show the images to “all that needed to see it before public presentation”.
Present at the meeting was the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Ewa; Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Ibrahim; National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd); Director General of the State Security Services, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong; and NASRDA Director General, Dr. Seidu Mohammed.
Although details of the meeting between NASRDA and security chiefs could not be ascertained as of press time, our correspondent learnt that NASRDA presented the images of Baga captured before and after the violent confrontation to the service chiefs.
A source that spoke on the condition of anonymity, because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said the images presented to the security chiefs were processed images.
The source said, “The Space Application Department of NASRDA has processed the images. The images are not like the raw images that were shown on Aljazeera TV. You can see the houses and the entire environment unlike raw images that are blurred.
“There are people that are blowing the whole thing out of proportion to get the attention of the government. When you compare the images captured before and after the incident, you will understand that it had been blown out of proportion.”
Although Mohammed declined to speak on the phone when contacted by our correspondent, he noted that a press conference would be scheduled by NASRDA when it is ready to speak on the controversial subject.