President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said Tuesday’s attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, had provided grounds for more urgent measures to rid the country of “vermin” and emancipate the polity. Buhari stated this in a release by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
The president declared that rather than demoralise the country’s Armed Forces, the attack would strengthen their determination to make a decisive end to criminality in Nigeria. He urged his critics to desist from politicising the terrible act.
The Defence Headquarters has ordered an intensive probe of the audacious invasion of the strategic military training institution. But it denied stories making the rounds that officers in charge of the Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) at the academy slept on duty while the criminals conducted the assault.
But Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, called on the federal government to muster the political will to deal decisively with bandits, criminals, and kidnappers, regardless of their ethnic group, religion, or status. Okowa spoke yesterday in Lagos while delivering a keynote address at the 2021 Ripples Nigeria Dialogue, with the theme, “Rebuilding Trust in a Divided Nigeria: Advancing the Conversation,” organised by the Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism.
That was as more groups continued to condemn the development, which they said had grave implications for the country’s fight against terror.
Buhari, in the release, said the attack, which resulted in loss of lives and the kidnap of an officer, “came at a time that the military had put insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other types of criminals on the retreat.”
According to him, “The heinous action would accelerate the total uprooting of evil in the polity, which members of the Armed Forces are solidly resolved to accomplish in the shortest possible time.”
While commiserating with the families, who lost loved ones in the attack, and praying God to comfort them, the president “vowed that the deceased would not die in vain, as the degenerate act would have consequences that will eventually clean the country of vermin, and emancipate the polity from deliberate, targeted and contrived atrocious acts.”
Buhari thanked Nigerians, who valued and appreciated the efforts of the military to root out criminality from the whole country. But he urged those playing hateful politics with the base assault on the military academy to desist from such. The president said rather than resort to recriminations, “this is the time for all patriots and people of goodwill to support and encourage those who are in the vanguard of the battle against wickedness in the land.”
The Defence Headquarters, which said search and rescue operation for the missing personnel was on-going, directed the management of the military institution to constitute a board of inquiry to look into the incident.
A statement signed by the Director, Defence Information (DDI), Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, said the board, whose membership was ordered by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, was not disclosed, but it would ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the security breach.
The board, according to Sawyerr, was also expected to sanction personnel found culpable and make recommendations to prevent a future occurrence.
The statement said, “Let me use this opportunity to reiterate that the NDA authorities, acting on the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff, has constituted a board of enquiry to ascertain the remote and immediate cause(s) of the breach of security with a view to sanction any personnel found culpable and also prevent future occurrence.
“Let me also assure that we shall continue to update the general public as events unfold as we are all aware the search and rescue of the abducted officer is still on. Troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria will continue with its operations to ensure all those involved in the dastardly act are brought to justice.”
Denying reports that personnel on duty at the CCTV monitoring room were asleep, when the bandits attacked the officers’ residential quarters, the statement explained, “The Nigerian Armed Forces wishes to state categorically that the allegation is untrue and hence challenge the publication to publish forthwith a verifiable proof of personnel sleeping during the incident.
“It is, therefore, imperative to caution the publication to guard against being used as a propaganda tool by enemies of our dear country.
“It should not consciously or unconsciously collaborate with these unscrupulous elements to spread unverified stories on the unfortunate event that occurred at NDA Kaduna while tarnishing the good image and reputation of personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in the eyes of the civil populace.”
Defence Headquarters noted that the Nigerian Armed Forces was a professional force consisting of highly trained personnel, who were dedicated to their duties of protecting lives and property of all Nigerians.
As the attack on the elite military university continued to elicit shock and anger from Nigerians, the Delta State governor called on the federal government to summon the political will to deal decisively with armed criminality in the country, regardless of the ethnicity, religion or status of the culprits.
He lamented that the war on terror was being seriously undermined by the payment of ransom to criminal elements, saying there is need for the deployment of modern security architecture anchored on technology to win the war against insurgency.
Okowa explained that the herdsmen/farmers conflict was fast becoming the greatest threat to the country’s unity and economic wellbeing, adding that the nomadic Muslim Fulani pastoralists and Christian farmers of various ethnicities have continued to clash resulting in loss of lives as well as economic crops and cattle.
He stated, “This threat to our country’s stability and unity needs to be addressed urgently by our federation. It is my opinion that ranching and cattle colonies with support by the federal government are a way out of this challenge.
“The federal government must urgently tackle this challenge to reduce the level of insecurity and ensure food security. Criminal herdsmen must be dealt with within our laws and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) need to be resettled in their homes.”
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives also decried the escalating acts of terrorism and banditry across the country, particularly, the invasion of the NDA. In a statement by its leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the caucus lamented that hardly a day passed without the country being jolted by reports of gruesome killings, abductions, arson, and mindless plundering by terrorists and bandits, who now freely operated on highways, schools, and communities.
The lawmakers demanded immediate action by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to check the ugly trend. They called for forensic investigation into the circumstances that enabled the invasion of the NDA and subsequent killing and abduction of officers.
The caucus also called for investigation into the concerns raised by some groups, including the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), about the handling of insurgents by the authorities.
However, the lawmakers urged troops involved in the fight against terror not to be deterred but to remain firm in their commitment, promising to intensify legislative action that would support genuine effort towards restoring peace in the country.
The statement read in part, “The Minority Caucus notes the heightened attacks on military formations and mindless killings and maiming of innocent Nigerians by bandits and terrorists in various parts of the country, despite the assurances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
“The situation has become extremely horrifying in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Benue, Borno, Niger and other states across our nation, where killers and kidnappers are now having a field day raiding communities and killing our compatriots.
“On yesterday night, 35 Nigerians were reportedly massacred in Yelwan Zangam in Jos, Plateau State, barely a week after innocent travellers were ambushed and brutally murdered in the state.
“Our caucus is distressed that every day, families are deprived of their breadwinners, scores of children are orphaned, wives are turned to widows, husbands turned to widowers, parents are made to bury their children hacked down in their prime, with others languishing in their captors’ dens and family source of livelihood destroyed.”
Similarly, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, condemned the attack on the NDA, describing it as an affront on Nigeria’s security, which is highly unacceptable. Ojukwu, who expressed shock and disappointment in his reaction to the attack, said in Abuja that the NDA was a pride of the country, where people from other parts of the world came to train.
The NHRC executive secretary stated, “The invasion of the institution with high international repute, where very intelligent military officers are produced is most unfortunate, unexpected and condemnable.”
Ojukwu said the attack on the military institution was bad in itself, and worst of all, officers were killed and abducted. He said, “This is the worst form of human rights violation of our time.
“Military officers, like other security personnel, are entitled to carry out their duties in relative safety and security. They are fathers and mothers of their families, who are entitled to go to work and come back alive.”
He called on the military to leave no stone unturned in its efforts to rescue the abducted officer and fish out the abductors to face the wrath of the law, saying, “This will discourage further attacks on other national critical assets and infrastructure.”
Ojukwu commiserated with the families of the gallant men of the Nigerian military, Lieutenant Wulah and Flight Lieutenant Okoronkwo, saying they paid the supreme price in the service of their fatherland and their sacrifice would not go in vain.
Condemning the attack, too, the youth wing of the highest Igbo sociocultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Wordwide, described the assault as an affront.
National Youth Leader of Ohanaeze Youth Wing, Damian Okafor, who stated this on Wednesday, while briefing journalists in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, noted that the group was solidly behind the position of the southern governors that open grazing be banned across southern Nigeria. Okafor said the attack was an affront on Nigeria’s security architecture, stressing that open grazing has triggered conflicts between host communities and migrant herders, resulting in several deaths in states across the country.
He stated, “Igbo youths condemn in its entirety the invasion of NDA, Afaka, where two army officers were shot dead and another abducted. Igbo Youths World Wide calls on the federal government to commence immediate investigation with a view to exposing the perpetrators of this heinous crime against the Nigeria Army and (they should) be made to face the wrath of the law.
“The Igbo youths stand by the unanimous decision of the 17 southern governors made known to the general public through a communiqué on May 11, 2021, resolving to ban open grazing of cattle in their states. We don’t want to lose more innocent lives in Igbo Land. Enough of this carnage!
“Whoever that is subscribing for opening grazing in Igbo Land should know that our 17 southern governors are not stupid to have defended their people through that resolve. That person should know that he/she is the core enemy of Igbo Land and shall be treated as such.”
On its part, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said the invasion of the NDA indicated apparent loss of control, explaining that it is a key indicator of a failed state under the present administration. The group, in a statement issued Wednesday by its spokesperson, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said the attack signified a dangerous loss of control of the nation’s territory by the government.
It said while effective governments provided core guarantees to citizens in the three inter-related realms of security, economics, and politics, the current administration in Nigeria had assumed the reputation of the most insensitive in the country’s history, with the level of waste and impunity exhibited at the recent wedding of the president’s son in Kano.
The northern group lamented that the polity had disintegrated to a point, where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer functioned properly.
CNG stated, “This apparent loss of control by the government has given rise to widespread corruption allegations, and escalating criminality, rampant intervention of non-state actors with the attendant sharp economic decline, proliferation of refugee settlements and the involuntary movement of populations, which are key indicators of state failure.
“The effect of the apparent erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions on such serious matters as national security, despite the more than N5 trillion said to have been invested and another N1 billion put in the purchase of arms, has invariably raised serious questions of credibility and probity against the administration.”