AFP says Nigeria army ‘wants to be sole news source’

The news agency AFP stands by its report that a second jihadist attack on Nigerian troops in as many days was even more deadly and included an army base being overrun.

It adds that hundreds of troops are unaccounted for after the attack.

The Nigerian military’s dismissive response to this report is typical of its default stance of downplaying or denying losses.

It wants to be the sole source of news from the front line, and pits the media as purveyors of unfounded and unverified claims.

There have been genuine, laudable military successes in this campaign – but the force has also hurt its own credibility with some inaccurate or even untrue accounts.

It claims that residents of north-east Nigeria have nothing to fear, yet it restricts media access to certain parts of the region.

It wants journalists to trumpet its gains against what it considers a rag-tag militia – but also go silent on the continuing attacks on civilians and soldiers.

The Nigeria military describes its “gallant” troops as being in high spirits, yet for years we have had multiple accounts from those on the frontline complaining of being ill-equipped and even poorly fed.

Despite the much-repeated assertion of having defeated Islamist militant group Boko Haram, the insurgency is into its ninth year.

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