Security operatives from the army, air force and other agencies have launched a manhunt for the bandits who raided the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, killing, maiming and kidnapping military officers from the institution.
The Defence Headquarters described the attack on the NDA as unfortunate, saying troops in collaboration with other security forces are combing the environs to rescue the abducted officer and neutralise the gunmen.
The director of defence information (DDI), Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, told LEADERSHIP that bandits breached the NDA security fences, kidnapped an officer and killed two other officers.
He said the unknown gunmen in large numbers attacked the institution at about 02:15am in a well planned operation as they knew exactly who they wanted and went straight to their residence.
He, however, gave assurance that the NDA was working closely with other security forces to rescue the officers.
“Yes, the NDA security was breached by bandits. They sneaked in at about 0215 hours. It must have been a well-planned operation. They went straight into the officers’ accommodation; they knew where they were going.
“They killed one officer and abducted two. Since then the NDA commandant and his team have been moving around the surrounding environment to ensure that they recover those abducted and also neutralise those who carried out the nefarious activity.
“The NDA is working closely with troops of 1 Division and the Nigerian Air Force, so we expect that we’ll have a positive response from there soon. It is unfortunate thing, NDA is a training institution for cadets; it’s not for cadets to be carrying weapons up and down, but I can assure you that the NDA will address the situation,” he said.
Meanwhile the city of Kaduna was yesterday thrown into apprehension following the news of bandits’ attack on the NDA which left two officers dead and one abducted.
A statement issued by the Academy Public Relations Officer (APRO), Major Bashir Muhammad Jajira, confirmed that “the security architecture of the Nigerian Defence Academy was compromised early this (yesterday) morning by unknown gunmen who gained access into the residential area within the Academy in Afaka. During the unfortunate incident, we lost two personnel and one was abducted.”
The APRO disclosed that the Academy, in collaboration with the 1Division Nigerian Army and Air Training Command, as well as other security agencies in Kaduna State, had since commenced pursuit of the unknown gunmen within the general area with a view to tracking them and rescuing the abducted personnel.
He further said the NDA community and the cadets were safe in the Academy and assured the general public that these gunmen would soon be apprehended and the abducted personnel rescued.
A resident of Kaduna town, Alhaji Ibrahim Yusuf described the attack as unfortunate.
” If a security organisation like the NDA can be attacked with the attackers going scot free, it shows we are in serious trouble and in need of prayers,” he said.
It was noticed that the roads and other activities in Kaduna metropolis became relatively quiet following the news of the attack in the morning as people scaled down their activities apparently for fear of the unknown.
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP had earlier gathered that two officers were killed and four others were abducted during the attack.
A competent security source told our correspondents that the incident occurred at about 1am on Tuesday morning at the permanent site of the nation’s premier defence institution, adding that the bandits’ target was the cadets’ hostel.
The source said the abducted officer is Major Datong, Lt Cdr Wulah and Flt Lieutenant C.M. Okoronwo were shot dead, while Second Lieutenant Onah sustained bullet wounds and is receiving treatment at a hospital owned by the NDA.
The NDA had said that the Army and the Nigerian Airforce (NAF) and other security agencies had commenced a manhunt for the attackers of the institution, while confirming that two of its officers were killed with another one abducted when the unknown gunmen in large numbers attacked the institution.
According to a statement issued by the Academy Public Relations Officer (APRO) Major Bashir Muhammad Jajira said, “The security architecture of the Nigerian Defence Academy was compromised early this morning by unknown gunmen who gained access into the residential area within the Academy in Afaka”.
He confirmed that “During the unfortunate incident, we lost two personnel and one was abducted”.
The APRO disclosed that the Academy in collaboration with the 1Division Nigerian Army and Air Training Command as well as other security agencies in Kaduna state has since commenced pursuit of the unknown gunmen within the general area with a view to tracking them and rescue the abducted personnel.
He further said, the NDA community and Cadets are safe in the Academy and assured the general public that these unknown gunmen would soon be apprehended and the abducted personnel rescued.
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP had earlier gathered that two officers were indeed killed but four others were abducted during the attack.
Competent security source who spoke with our correspondents on telephone said the incident occurred at about 1am on Tuesday morning at the permanent site of the nation’s premier defence institution.
According to the source, the abducted officer is Major Datong while Lt Cdr Wulah and Flt Lieutenant CM Okoronwo were shot dead, and Second Lieutenant Onah sustained gunshot injury and is receiving treatment at own Hospital in NDA.
This Madness Must Stop, CDS Vows
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Leo Irabor, has confirmed the attack on the NDA, Kaduna.
The CDS reacted to the attack in Yola during an interaction with retired military officers from the Northeast zone, held at the 23 Brigade to share ideas towards finding solutions to contemporary security challenges in the region.
“The attack is more of an armed robbers coming to your house, the infiltration wouldn’t have come by virtue of normal banditry action.
“The attack is already being looked at and in due course the details would be made known. The incident in Kaduna is more of an undertaking by bandits. Any form of insecurity is a cause of worry for anyone.
“That is why we are determined that this madness would come to an end speedily and that is what we are working at,” Irabor said.
He assured that the security situation in the North East is expected to improve in the couple of weeks to come, which forms the basis for the parley with the retired military officers.
“What are looking for holistic solutions and we believe they would be able to open up towards areas that we may not actually have thought of and things they may perhaps consider as mistakes for us to make corrections.
The military, he added, would reach out to good people of the region to appreciate them for their support in the fight against insurgency and ask for more, as solutions to insecurity is everybody’s business.
The General Officer Commanding, 3 Division, Maj Gen Ibrahim Ali, lauded the Defence Headquarters for the initiative of tapping from the wealth of experience of the retired officers.
The Chief of Defence Civil-Military Cooperation (CDCIMIC), Rear Admiral Frederick Ugo, in his remarks said the interaction was necessitated by recent situations, even as he urged collaboration among security agencies in the fight.
Retired military officers are groups that cannot be overlooked as their contributions are genuine all the time,” he said.
National Security System Running On Reverse Gear – ACF
Reacting to the incident at the NDA, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), through its national publicity secretary, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, commiserated with families of those who lost their lives, describing the attack as a national embarrassment.
“ACF, first and foremost, commiserates with the families of those who lost their lives during today’s attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy. These gallant men have paid the supreme price for Nigeria, their motherland. We hope their sacrifices are not in vain. The Forum is praying that the abducted officer will be rescued and the criminals who abducted him brought to book.
“The latest security breach is another embarrassment to the ACF. The NDA is a proud monument of the efforts of the first generation of northerners who fought hard to bring development to the north; the likes of Muhammadu Ribadu, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello who brought the Institution to Kaduna.
“They did not bring it here for our generation to hand it over to bandits or whatever we call them. This is an institution that is not only a pride of the north but a pride of Nigeria. Many African countries train their military officers here,” he said.
According to ACF, it is really sad that ordinary street bandits will invade a military institution of such high national and international repute, outwit the security system and men there, kill officers and take one away to an unknown destination.
“We of the ACF are particularly sad because Kaduna is our home, not only because our headquarters is located here but for a long time, even after the split of our Northern Region, Kaduna remained home to all northerners.
“The NDA is a proud reminder of the achievements of our fathers. Is that how our present generation of northerners will sit and watch as these legacies are destroyed? We of the ACF have said it again and again that there is everything seriously wrong with the management of our security.
“The other day a Nigerian Airforce fighter aircraft was shot down by the so-called bandits. Today the factory where all Nigerian military officers are produced has been invaded and desecrated. What else do we need to show that our national security system is running in reverse gear?” ACF queried.
Also, Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Yusuf Ibrahim Zailani, described the invasion, killing and abduction at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) as an assault on Nigeria’s territorial integrity, which he said must be treated with all seriousness.
He said this in a statement signed by his special adviser on Media and Publicity, Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani, yesterday.
According to him, NDA is Nigeria’s premier training citadel for Nigeria’s Armed Forces, a pride to the country and Africa, hence such a daring attack on the institution is unacceptable and must be investigated by the military hierarchy.
“It is disheartening and unfortunate for such an attack to have taken place, catching those in charge of its internal security off guard,” it said.
It’s Sad Nigerians Can’t Travel, Sleep Peacefully – Abdusalami
Also yesterday, former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar, dscribed the rate of insecurity in Nigeria as painful and disturbing even as he said all should be submitted for divine intervention.
General Abdusalami spoke while receiving members of the Niger State Executive Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) yesterday at his Hilltop Residence in Minna, Niger State.
According to him, it is sad that people cannot sleep without some armed men knocking on their doors and picking them for ransom.
“If you want to travel from one point to another, you will start to have worries.We pray that Allah (swt) will bring the solution because he has promised us that no hardship is without relief”
He charged journalists to always discharge their duties for the good of the society and avoid fake news, especially in the era of social media
The former Nigeria military leader said he recognised the dilemma of the media practitioners in between meeting up the timely release of their news with pressure from social media and the task of properly investigating their facts.
He, however, told journalists in the state and nation to assiduously work towards enhancing fair and balanced reporting aimed at combating fake news and enhancing peace.
Attack On NDA Shows Nowhere Is Safe In Nigeria – Experts
Some military experts have said the attack on NDA is disgraceful and unacceptable, adding that nowhere in Nigeria is safe any longer.
Veteran and public affairs analyst, Banjo Daniel, said the attack shows that people are playing politics with Nigeria’s security situation and called on the President to call the service chiefs to order.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP via mobile phone, he said it shouldn’t take the Nigerian Army more than a month to end banditry but such has continued to linger, culminating in the attack on a respected military training institution.
“When I first heard of this, my first reaction was what, no, no, no. It has gotten to a stage that Nigerians should be worried, seriously worried, not just in the North but down to the South because, with time, it will cause what we cannot control. That was my initial thought and then I also thought again that, immediately, the commander-in-chief should call all the service chiefs including the chief of defence staff and the GOC; in fact, they should be not only sacked, they should be court-martialed.
” I used to believe that the whole thing is politics because I cannot see bandits hiding anywhere in Nigeria with the Nigerian Army that I went through; to eliminate these bandits wherever they are in Nigeria should not take the Nigerian Army more than one month.
“A detachment of special forces will eliminate any type of bandits in any state. So, if we have them spread out like that and they coordinate their effort, it’s possible that a team of special forces with well-coordinated air support will eliminate them.”
Another veteran, Awwal Abdullahi, said the success of the attack indicated how strong and determined the bandits are; he urged the military to wake up and be more proactive even as he told the Armed Forces to realise that the issue of insecurity is no longer a joke
“These bandits are very determined, we have heard that they have sent letters to Airforce base, NDA, threatening to come and perpetrate mayhem. You know, as at the time they did that, some took it seriously, some took it for a joke but then some proactive measures were taken and then I guess those measures relaxed having believed that they cannot do what they said they are going to do, but eventually, they have succeeded in doing what they said they are going to do.
“For any reason, if they can come to the barracks, in the academy and then succeed in doing what they did by killing officers and abducting another one, in fact even coming into the barracks, the guts that they have to come inside the academy is enough to tell our security personnel that these guys are more than willing, ever ready and determined in what they are doing. ”
He added, “I think, this time around, personnel should be more proactive, they should be more prepared in fighting the security challenges that we are having and that also indicates that the general public is no longer safe. If the barracks, an academy, defence academy, can be attacked, it means nobody is safe and it has only succeeded in sending fear into the minds and souls of Nigerians, most especially the Kaduna residents.
“They do not have the capacity to overpower our Armed Forces but then it is truly disgraceful for such a thing to even happen. It means these guys are testing the will of our Armed Forces and that was why they had to do what they did so, it’s so unfortunate,”
Military Maintain Low Profile Security In Formations
However, a visit to formations of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Navy, especially in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, indicated that there was no beef-up of security vigilance around such formations.
LEADERSHIP observed that the headquarters of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army and the headquarters of the 105 Special Operations Group of the Nigerian Air Force located along Aba Road, Port Harcourt, have no additional security presence at their main gates.
The situation was the same at the headquarters of the NNS Pathfinder located at Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, and Naval barracks located in Borokiri and Old GRA, all in Port Harcourt.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, a security expert, who pleaded for anonymity, said, following the killing of security personnel in parts of Rivers State in May 2021 by unknown gunmen, security formations in the state beefed up their security, adding that there was no need to increase the number.
He said: “If you can remember, in May this year, some security personnel from the Police, Customs and the Nigerian Army were killed when unknown gunmen attacked security facilities in Rivers State.
“After the attack, security was beefed up in all security formations in Rivers State. So, there is no need to beef up security again when there are more than enough guarding the formations.”
However, the Navy and Army formations in the state have intensified the security network since last week as a result of three ceremonies in Delta State.
Ostensibly as a result of the attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy, the check points on the highways, especially the one at the front of 63 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Asaba, which were removed due to the visit of dignitaries like the Vice President and Yemi Osinbajo to the state last weekend, had been restored.
While the patrolling of the state, especially the state capital by the military men and combined security personnel codenamed “Operation Delta Hawk” are seen everywhere, the aspect of stop-and-search at checkpoints has now been added.
Operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS Delta), Warri Naval Base were seen patrolling the waters in their gunboats, while operatives of the Delta State Police Command were on the ground with sister security agencies since last week.
The three ceremonies were the coronation of the 21st Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ogiame Atuwatse III, the visit of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Alkali Baba to Delta as part of his familiarisation tour of state police commands and formations across the country, and the celebration of the life of Pa Okowa, father of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta.
Major military formations in Borno State, especially barracks, are fortified bearing in mind the dreaded nature of Boko Haram terrorists.
The military, in a bid to secure most of the barracks, dug trenches in addition to heavy security checks in and out of the barracks.
Military in Borno became more alert after Boko Haram terrorists in 2014 invaded 24 Armoured Brigade, Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, and freed most of the detainees, mostly hundreds of suspected terrorists caught during fierce encounters in some areas of the state.
Although there have been a series of invasions of minor military units in Borno, adequate security measures are now in place by the military to halt the marauding terrorists from invading.
LEADERSHIP findings in and around the gates of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Army Barracks, Ohafia, indicated that there have been no noticeable changes among the guards on duty.
At Nguzu Junction, along Umuahia-Ohafia road, commuters are still required to disembark from either their motorcycles or vehicles while crossing the army checkpoint with both hands raised above their heads.
There has never been a reduction in military presence on some of the highways and strategic locations across the state even as there has been a reduction in the upsurge of insecurity which was recently rampant.
Security at Military Barracks in Niger still looked normal as people were seen going into the Military Barracks as usual with the usual security check.
LEADERSHIP observed that at the army barracks, the men at the entrance still maintained their calm as they conducted their usual security check diligently.
Visitors were not hindered from entering the barracks, especially those who have genuine business going on inside the barracks.