While Nigerians mourned and the military hoisted its flag at half-mast over the killing of six Nigerian soldiers in a fierce combat with Boko Haram insurgents in mid-July, the commander overseeing the war was busy staging a lavish party to celebrate his latest promotion.
Bulama Biu, the general officer commanding, 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, based in Maiduguri, was elevated as a major-general on July 9 based on his “extraordinary feats, exemplary leadership, commitment and valour,” according to a military statement which cited President Muhammadu Buhari’s reasons for the recognition.
On July 17, Mr Biu spoke about his promotion in an open message to Boko Haram insurgents, admonishing them to “celebrate” with him or risk being wiped out.
“I want to assure them that I have returned to Maiduguri more reinvigorated, well energised,” the army chief was quoted by Sahara Reporters as saying.
But around 6:00 p.m. on July 17, barely hours after Mr Biu’s media address at the theatre command headquarters in Maiduguri, Nigerian soldiers came under attack about 50 kilometres away in Jakana, a midsize town which Boko Haram has long used as a base along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway.
The fierce combat ended with at least six soldiers killed, and several Boko Haram fighters gunned down. A colonel and a captain were amongst those who lost their lives.
Dozens of soldiers who were seriously wounded in the attack were taken to the military hospital in Maiduguri.
But as Nigerians mourned with the families of the departed brave officers, Mr Biu threw a party in Maiduguri, inviting top politicians like the governor of Borno State as guests.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained a flyer of the event and a picture of Mr Biu sharing a table with the governor.
Mr Biu did not return PREMIUM TIMES‘ requests for comments on the matter.
The spokespersons for the Defence Headquarters and the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Onyema Nwachukwu and Sagir Musa, also did not return separate requests for comments for more than a week.