Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a full-scale investigation into reports of high civilian casualties in the confrontation between Nigerian soldiers and insurgents at Baga in Borno State at the weekend.
A statement issued on Monday in Abuja by Dr Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said the President issued the directive having received preliminary briefings from the Military High Command on the incident.
Abati said the briefings indicated that the casualty figures reported by the foreign media might be grossly exaggerated.
He said the President assured Nigerians and the global community that the Federal Government places the highest possible value on the lives of all the citizens of the country.
He said the President also assured that his administration would continue to do everything possible to avoid the killing or injuring of innocent bystanders in security operations against terrorists and insurgents.
``Rules of engagement for the military and security agencies are already in place for this purpose,’’ he said.
``The investigation ordered by President Jonathan into the incident in Baga is to amongst other things, determine whether or not these rules were fully complied with.’’
Abati said the President had also ordered NEMA and federal health agencies to liaise with the state government and take urgent steps to provide immediate relief and medical support for all who suffered losses and injury in the fighting at Baga.
He said the President commiserated with all those who lost their lives in the fighting, including the soldiers who gallantly made the supreme sacrifice in the operation against terrorism, insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria.
``The President is deeply pained by the continuance of these needless deaths and will continue to do all within his powers to achieve lasting peace, security and stability in all parts of the country.
``It is his hope and expectation that the National Committee which he will inaugurate on Wednesday for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of security challenges in the North will contribute significantly to ending the continuous loss of lives to wasteful violence," he said.