How Chari Maigumeri Barracks, on Lokoja- Okene-Kabba road, Kogi State becomes an antecedent of history. SAM EGWU in Lokoja tells it all
The idea of renaming “Army Records Barracks” in Lokoja, Kogi State came as a surprise to those who are familiar with the name of the Barracks as army records. But tracing the history of Capt Chari Maigumeri, to Lokoja in the early years, one cannot but be rest assured that renaming the barracks after “Chari Maigumeri” is not out of place after all.
The Nigeria Regiment [renamed the Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment after Queen Elizabeth royal tour in 1956] traces its origin to several local forces raised in the second half of the 19thcentury to carry out the British conquest of what is now Nigeria.
The earliest of those was ‘Glover’s Hausa’ a constabulary force organized at Lagos in 1863 from runaway slaves who had attached themselves to Lt. John Glover of the Royal Navy. Another force was the oil Rivers irregulars raised in the east after the proclamation of the oil River Protectorate in 1885. From 1891 these were known as the Niger Coast Constabulary and were based in Calabar.
In the north, Sir George Goldie’s chartered company organized the Royal Niger Company Constabulary in 1886. These Soldiers were subsequently re-organized by F. D Lugard in 1900 as the Northern Nigerian Regiment and took part in the expedition against Sultan Attahiru Ahmadu of Sokoto in 1903 which led to the formal annexation of the whole northern Nigeria. All these military establishments were united to form the Nigeria Regiment of the West African Frontier Forces in 1914 at the time of Lugard’s amalgamation of northern and southern Nigeria.
Chari Maigumeri was born around 1895 to a Kanuri parent from Maigumeri town in present Borno State. With no formal education, Chari Maigumeri however had Arabic education. He joined the German Cameroon force in 1913 at the age of 18. While with the German-Cameroon force Chari Maigumeri fought in the Ghana action of 1915. He was captured by British troops a year later thus ended his military career with the German-Cameroon force in 1916. The formation of the Nigeria Regiment of the West African Frontier Force in 1914 coupled with the threat of the First World War called for more recruits. Though recruitment into the regiment was almost entirely from the Hausas and Yorubas who had earned for themselves high reputation as soldiers; other war-like tribes from various Provinces and Division were equally recruited. Army recruit for the east African campaign began in July 1917, in the north, Lokoja was one of the recruitment centres. By this time other tribes particularly from the Middle Belt have out-numbered the Hausas as recruits into the Nigeria-Regiment. The Kanuri’s with military tradition like the Tiv far outnumbered the other tribes. With a call for volunteers Chari Maigumeri joined the Nigerian regiment at Lokoja in July 1917 with other recruits.
They were specially trained. After the period of training Private Maigumeri was posted to third Battalion thus the campaign for the capture of German East Africa began. By middle of January 1919 the campaign was over, East Africa had been captured from the Germans. The troops returned to Nigeria and were welcomed back personally by Lugard. It was acknowledged that Chari Maigumeri gallantly contributed to the success of the campaign. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1920 and Company Sergeant Major (CSM) in 1929; he was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major,(RSM) in 1937.
With the outbreak of the Second World War RSM Maigumeri accompanied his battalion at the capturing of Mogadishu, Italian Somaliland and throughout the war of Abyssinia [Ethiopia] to its fall. And with the surrendering of the Italian forces RSM Maigumeri and the third Battalion returned to Nigeria but in view of the possibility of invasion of Sierra-Leone by the Victory French force, the battalion was dispatch to Sierra-Leone. On their returned to Nigeria and after a further period of training, the battalion and RSM Maigumeri went to fight in Burma. For his bravery in various actions in the battlefield RSM Maigumeri was awarded military medals.
In early 1946 Nigerian troops started returning home from Burma. However, the role of the various units of Nigeria regiment did not stop with the formal end of the Second World War. During the long period that the troops were waiting to be shipped home discipline which was the hallmark of the regiment in Burma was maintained and kept high by RSM Chari Maigumeri and other Nigerian senior no-Commission Officers. The regiment corps of drums entertained troops including the British and the local Burmese as they beat retreat every evening. By the end of 1946 the Nigeria regiment had returned home from all theatres of the Second World War. In 1946 RSM Chari Maigumeri was sent to England to represent his battalion in the victory parade. He represented his battalion at the coronation of King George VI and with that had the honour of meeting and speaking to King George VI in person. And at the death of King George VI in 1952, RSM Chari Maigumeri was sent to England as a representative of the Nigeria regiment at the funeral of the late King of England. In 1953 he attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
RSM Chari Maigumeri was awarded several medals for his bravery and gallantry this included; The Iron Cross in 1915, Coronation Medal in 1937, Military Medal in 1943, British Empire Medal in 1944.
After serving for 36 years in the Nigeria regiment as Sergeant Major of the third battalion, RSM Chari Maigumeri retired from the Nigeria regiment force in 1953. He was made an Honorary Captain in the Nigeria regiment to mark the conclusion of his long and distinguished military career. After retirement Captain Chari Maigumeri still assisted in various recruiting tours from time to time. In 1958 as an honour he was selected as the representative of Nigeria regiment at the unveiling ceremony of the Rangoon War Memorial. Captain Chari Maigumeri help brought peace to the world built a formidable Nigeria Army. Chari Maigumeri Barrack Lokoja is his living memory. Captain Chari Maigumeri took his final rest in Kawo Kaduna on April 13th, 1972.
Nigerians salutes his loyalty, a loyalty which has already been actively expressed by his service in the Nigeria Regiment Force. Chari Maigumeri was a gallant soldier who expresses his loyalty to the nation through service in the Nigeria Regiment Force from 1914 – 1953. The statue of Capt Chari Maigumeri at the entrance of the Chari Maigumeri Barracks in Lokoja, Kogi State along Okene Kabba road is not only well deserved and historic, its that the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.
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