Shock, condemnation, and anger trailed the attack launched on Nigeria’s elite military academy on Tuesday by some daredevil bandits terrorising Kaduna State and environs. The military university, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, came under attack in the early hours of Tuesday. Two officers were reported killed and another in the rank of a Major, abducted.
Those killed are Lieutenant Commander Wulah and Flight Lieutenant Okoronkwo while Major Datong is still missing.
Ironically, the military university is just a few metres from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka where 39 students were abducted by terrorists on March 11, 2021.
Sketchy details of how the bandits gained entry into the premises of the premier military institution have begun to emerge even as unconfirmed reports circulating on different online platforms alleged that the kidnappers had made a ransom demand of N200 million to release the abducted officer.
Another officer was said to have sustained injuries from gunshots and was receiving medical attention at the institution’s health centre, which occupies a vast land in Afaka, along the road to the Kaduna International Airport.
THISDAY has, however, learnt that personnel in charge of the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) mounted at the NDA actually slept off while on duty, which allowed the terrorists to gain access to the living quarters of the officers. .
Reacting to the development, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), which condemned the attack, however, said it was embarrassing that “the factory, where all Nigerian military officers are produced has been invaded and desecrated.”
On their part, the Northern elders have alleged a failure of Nigeria’s intelligence network following Tuesday’s attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, Kaduna, by bandits and therefore called for the immediate sack of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno.
Similarly, the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has expressed sadness over the attack on the NDA and sympathised with members of families of the victims of the invasion.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces had immediately launched a manhunt for the killers of two military officers and kidnappers of one other officer in a daring attack on the NDA by bandits.
Sources said the bandits, who were in very large number stormed the military institution at about 1am on Tuesday, wearing military camouflage, manoeuvred their way into the Academy and proceeded to the officers quarters.
In a statement yesterday confirming the incident, spokesman of the Academy, Major Bashir Jajira, said the security architecture of the institution was compromised, saying two officers were killed while one was abducted by the bandits.
Jajira said the Academy, in collaboration with the 1Division Nigerian Army and Air Training Command both in Kaduna, as well as other security agencies in the state, had commenced a manhunt for the gunmen with a view to tracking them and rescuing the abducted officer.
The statement titled, “Security breach of Nigerian Defence Academy architecture”, read: 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. During the unfortunate incident, we lost two personnel and one was abducted.
“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.
“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 sources have hinted that the reason the NDA was caught unawares was because the personnel in charge of the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) mounted at the NDA slept off while on duty and were unable to alert others to the presence of the gunmen.
“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,” a source said.
But the ACF, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, said it was sad that ordinary street bandits would invade a military institution of such high national and international repute, outwit the security system in the academy, kill officers and take one away to an unknown destination.
“The ACF, first and foremost commemorates with the families of those, who lost their lives during todays (Tuesday) attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy. These gallant men have payed 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,” Yawe said, adding that the latest security breach was another embarrassment to the forum.
According to him, “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.
“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.
“The NDA is a proud reminder of the achievements of our fathers,” he said, wondering if the present generation of northerners would seat and watch as the legacies were 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 on reverse gear?” the forum asked.
The Northern Elders, while demanding the sack of Monguno, lamented that the development was an indication that no Nigerian was safe again in the country.
The group, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), also sought an in-depth review of the entire security architecture of the country, stressing that the entire security chiefs must be blamed.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Zana Goni, the group said it was time for the president to do away with Monguno following the worsening insecurity in the country.
“The the deteriorating security situation is a sign that Monguno, who manages the nation’s security, is not on top of his game”, the statement stated, criticising stakeholders in the region for their alleged “long silence in the face of unbearable criminal acts by armed herdsmen and insecurity across the country ‘thereby giving a bad image of the region.
“We find it once more expedient to comment on the worsening security situation in the country, especially, the latest attack on a military formation, the Nigerian Defence Academy, which is the institution, where future military leaders are trained.
“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.
“Without mincing words, we wish to attribute this ugly development to intelligence failure and gaps in the capacity of our armed forces. We wish to strongly say here that the attack is a slap on the Nigeria intelligence community and the armed forces.
“The retention of the National Security Adviser, General Babagana Monguno, at the time the president listened to the voice of reason and replaced service chiefs, may contribute to the continuously deteriorating security situation in the country.
“As Northern elders, we have found it very important to call on President Buhari to remove the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd), whose office and responsibilities are critical to the achievement of comprehensive security all over the country but hasn’t used the high esteem of his office in any productive ways since his appointment as NSA.
“The reason for this call is not farfetched. We believe that Major-Gen Monguno was part of the gross failure associated with the tenure of the former security chiefs and his continued presence in office will make the success Buhari intended to achieve with the changes very difficult, if not completely impossible.”
El-Rufai, in a statement by his Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, was briefed on the incident and prayed for the reposed of the souls of those killed.
Aruwan said, the state government “received with sadness the report of the unfortunate security breach at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna in the early hours of Tuesday 24th August 2021. The security breach at the Academy led to the death of two personnel and abduction of one officer.
“Being the host of the Academy and a partner in several spheres of national security and development, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has been briefed of the development, and on behalf of the Government and People of Kaduna State, has prayed for the repose of the souls of the personnel who lost their lives.”
He said the governor conveyed his heartfelt empathy to the Academy, and the immediate families of the personnel, and also extended deep concern to the family of the abducted officer.
“The Government of Kaduna State extends its unreserved solidarity to the Armed Forces of Nigeria and all security agencies, who are making immense sacrifices on different fronts,” the statement stated.
The statement also appealed to the citizens of the state to volunteer useful information to the military and security agencies in the campaign against banditry and kidnapping in the state and beyond.
“On its part, the Kaduna State government will continue to take actions considered imperative in the campaign against bandits throughout the state,” Aruwan said.
However, the Defence Headquarters, said yesterday that troops were in hot pursuit of the fleeing terrorists.
As the military pursued the bandits, Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, said the armed forces were committed to containing mounting security challenges confronting the nation even as he disagreed with the position of the Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari, to the effect that citizens should resort to self defence.
He said government was committed to the protection of lives and property and called for support of the citizenry in tackling the security crisis.
According to him, while the bandits presented the challenge of guerilla warfare by their hit and run tactics, government was committed to its containment policy with regards to security challenges facing the nation.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), which alleged that the attackers sneaked into the officers quarters of NDA and started shooting sporadically, however, reiterated that manhunt for the criminals was in top gear.
“The gallant troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), in joint operations are in hot pursuit of armed bandits that attacked the officers quarters of the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), in Kaduna early hours of 24 August 2021.
“All efforts have been intensified by troops, who are currently combing the entire locations in search and rescue mission for the adducted officers. The commandant NDA as well as the HQ 1Div with the support of NAF are presently in a coordinated joint operations to search and rescue the abducted officer and arrest the perpetrators.
“The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) wishes to use this medium to condole with the families of the deceased officers. He thanked troops for their quick response. The CDS also wishes to assure the NDA communities of their safety as security has been beefed up while operations are on going in the general area. Further details will be released later.”
In a related development, Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Yusuf Ibrahim Zailani, has expressed shock over the attack on the NDA by bandits on Tuesday and described the invasion, killing and abduction as an assault on Nigeria’s territorial integrity, which must be treated with all seriousness.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani, the Speaker decried the onslaught on NDA and called for an investigation 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,” he said, urging the NDA not to let the attack demoralise them.
“I sincerely commiserate with families of those, who lost their lives. I am pleased that the NDA authorities have given assurances that the assailants are being trailed and would be apprehended,” he added.
John Shiklam in Kaduna and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja