The claims of the Special Adviser to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, that the military of countries does not or rarely release casualty figures is a significant and demonstrable lie.
On Sunday, during an interview session with Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Adesina said it is a global practice that the military does not or rarely declare the number of casualties.
“All over the world, the military does not or rarely disclose the figure of its casualties,” said Adesina.
Adesina was speaking in the wake of the deadly killing of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents. Although no formal reports from the soldiers nor the presidency, however, reports claimed that about 100 soldiers were killed.
“We lost about 100 soldiers. It is a huge loss,” an officer among the troop attacked at Metele told Reuters.
However, after a series of checks, The Guardian can report that Adesina was economical with the truth concerning his assertions.
Our findings showed that countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and South Africa do release casualty figures, names and sometimes pictures of deceased soldiers.
While the Canadian government has a special category on its official website to update and honour “recent fallen Canadian” army personnel, the South African Government in 2013 gave the full details of the dead soldiers in a statement barely 48 hours after the country’s troop died in a nine-hour “high-tempo battle” against the Central African Republic rebels.
Also, the UK Ministry of Defense releases the number of casualties of any attack the same day they get the information. According to The Guardian UK, immediately the country’s Ministry of Defense gets information of a death, officers are deployed to wait close to the homes of next of kin and/or others stipulated by the fallen man or woman. After confirmation of the identities of the dead soldiers, the officers break the news to the immediate family before the closely-involved MoD media team releases details to the public.
In fact, the Military of the United States releases the number of casualties and only withholds the name of a deceased member just for 24 hours after the primary next of kin and secondary next of kin have been notified. The notification is done within four hours after knowledge of the death.
Adesina would have been right if he had stated the military could not have gotten all the identities of the dead troops in a short time considering the severity of the attack on the base and perhaps the need to build its defence against another attack.
However, the Nigerian army is yet to release details of the attack or the number of casualties. The army stated in its reaction to the attack that the reported casualty figures that were circulated at the time was untrue while confirming that the next of kins were to be contacted first before any public information.