Barely five days after the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), announced that the President’s security strategies were working owing to questionable surrender of Boko Haram terrorists to security forces, bloodthirsty gunmen, yesterday, attacked the nation’s foremost military university, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna State, killing two military officers and kidnapping another.
The unknown gunmen shot Lieutenant Commodore Awolor Wulah and Flight Lieutenant Commodore Okoronkwo, while Major Stephen Datong was kidnapped.
The bandits had pulled up on motorbikes, invading the army barracks located along Airport Road, Afaka, in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna around 1:00a.m.
According to a source, the gunmen, who were dressed in military camouflage, beat the guards and headed for the officers’ quarters of the institution.
Incidentally, the military institution is opposite the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, where 39 students were abducted by bandits on March 11, 2021. The bandits demanded N500 million a few days after the abduction, but they were finally released after spending 50 days in the bandits’ den following negotiations.
It was gathered that personnel monitoring closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the academy were reportedly asleep yesterday, when bandits attacked the premises.
According to a source, the bandits sneaked in through a part of the facility that had no fence. “It was in the middle of the night, and the personnel that were meant to be monitoring the CCTV had slept off. They could have put everyone on alert and avert the attack.
“The gunmen operated for hours and left without any hindrance. After they left, soldiers in the barracks made efforts to trail them but failed. They couldn’t kill even one of them. They searched everywhere in the bush but couldn’t find them. They had fled away with their motorbikes.”
The source added that the academy authorities would court martial some soldiers for failing to secure the area. Major Bashir Muhd Jajira, spokesperson of the academy, in a statement, said the security architecture of the institution was compromised, which allowed the bandits to gain access to the well-fortified institution.
He said: “The academy in collaboration with the 1 Division Nigerian Army and Air Training Command as well as other security agencies in Kaduna has since commenced pursuit of the unknown gunmen within the general area with a view to tracking them and rescuing the abducted personnel.
“The NDA community and cadets are safe in the academy. We assure the general public that this unknown gunmen would soon be apprehended and the abducted personnel rescued.”
But another military source speaking to an online medium, Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), said the bandits have contacted the authorities to demand a N200 million ransom for Datong.
“They have called to ask for N200 million to free the Major. The attack was ridiculous. They came, teased us and left. Even the helicopter hovering in the bush could not track them.”
DISTURBED about the security breach at NDA, the Kaduna State Government has appealed to citizens to volunteer useful information to the military and security agencies in the campaign against banditry and kidnapping. The state government said it received with sadness the report of the incident.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, in a statement, said: “Being the host of the academy and a partner in several spheres of national security, Governor Nasir el-Rufai has been briefed of the development, and on behalf of the government, has prayed for the repose of the souls of the personnel who lost their lives.
“Further, the government extends its unreserved solidarity to the armed forces and all security agencies who are making immense sacrifices on different fronts.”
THE Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has equally expressed shock over the attack. ACF said the invasion and desecration of the factory where all Nigerian military officers are produced is an indication that the national security system is running on reverse gear.
ACF’s National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said the founding fathers of Northern Nigeria who brought NDA to Kaduna, did not bring it for the present generation to hand it over to bandits.
“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.
“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. 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.
“Is that how our present generation of northerners will sit and watch as these legacies are destroyed? Are we waiting for the bandits to attack Aso Rock Villa, where the seat of power is before this government takes banditry and insurgency as a serious matter?
“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 on reverse gear?”
Also, Northern elders have attributed Tuesday attack to failure of Nigeria’s intelligence network, and demanded immediate sack of the NSA, Monguno.
The group under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), in the statement by its national coordinator, Zana Goni, sought for an in-depth review of the entire security architecture, as the entire security chiefs must bear the blame of the attack.
Noting that their position was based on patriotism to the country, the elders insisted that it was time for the President to do away with Monguno, following the worsening insecurity in the country.
“The fact that a fortified military institution could be so easily invaded by armed militias without resistance has left us with the conclusion that no part of this country and no citizen, no matter his or her status, is safe again. The attack is a slap on the Nigerian intelligence community and the armed forces.”
THE Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) described the invasion as shameful and a very frightening development. National Secretary of YCE, Dr Kunle Olajide, said the development further showed that nowhere is safe in the country anymore.
“I believe that it is a special message the bandits are sending to Nigerians that we should be prepared. They have attacked the base of Nigeria’s strength. The security agencies must brace up. This is to say the least very frightening and the Federal Government must sit up to protect not only the military establishments, but the country as a whole. Something urgent needs to be done to rejig our security architecture.”
REACTING, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the decision by some state governments to evacuate their citizens from violence and terror-ridden states, including Plateau, further confirmed that Nigerians have lost faith in the capacity of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to secure the nation.
The party lamented that the insecurity situation has so deteriorated under President Buhari and APC’s watch that bandits now have the temerity to attack military formations, including the NDA.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP lamented that “bandits and terrorists are now freely ravaging our communities in Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Benue, Zamfara, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, Yobe, Imo and other states, including Mr. President’s home state, Katsina, where the governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has now asked victims of terror attacks to defend themselves.
“It is distressing that having lost hope in the capacity and commitment of the President to protect their citizens, state governments are now sending vehicles to the University of Jos (UNIJOS), to evacuate their citizens.”
According to the party, “it is even more disheartening that while our nation is under turmoil and while hundreds of helpless Nigerians, including innocent students, are languishing in kidnappers’ den, President Buhari and APC leaders are more interested in their lavish funfair with state-owned resources and facilities.”
The party charged Nigerians to hold the APC directly responsible for the escalated acts of terrorism in the country “as history will continue to mark the administration for its mass failure in governance and for plunging our nation into the worst form of hardship and suffering ever.”