A Nigeria military officer, Major Christopher Datong who was abducted on Tuesday, 24th August, at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Afaka in Kaduna, has been found dead.
According to reports, his body was found on Tuesday evening, hours after he was captured by bandits and abductors demanding N200m in ransom.
The Bandits on Tuesday had launched an offensive attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy in Kaduna, around 1am, killing two officers and abducting one other officer. The bandits who came in a vehicle were said to have passed through the security gate into the academy, disguised in military uniforms, after which they proceeded to the officers’ quarters.
On arrival, they began shooting sporadically and in the process, killed two officers (a Major and a Squadron Leader), and later on, took another Major away through the nearby bush inside the academy.
The Nigerian Defence Academy is located few metres away from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization Afaka, in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, where 39 students were abducted by bandits in March.
Also, according to reports, personnel monitoring the closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) were reportedly asleep when bandits attacked the premises on Tuesday.
Sources who spoke with TheCable had said the bandits sneaked in through a part of the facility that had no fence.
Another source said “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.”
An eye witness account within the barracks stated that security had been beefed up within and around the barracks to stop the bandits from escaping with the officers.
“It was a terrible experience, the bandits took advantage of the time when most people had gone to bed to attack the barracks.”
“Right now, the whole barracks is under lock and key and security has been beefed up so that the bandits would not leave the barracks… it is believed that they are still within,” the source said.
One of the officers who was injured in the attack is currently being treated at a hospital within the barracks.
The source said there are, however, fears that the bandits may decide to kill the officers in a bid to escape.
Confirming the incident, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) confirmed that, two personnel were killed when bandits attacked the barracks on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
A statement by the Academy Public Relations Officer, Major Bashir Jajira, said an officer was abducted by the bandits.
He 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. 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 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.”
Although a counter report had it that 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,” an NDA source lamented to newsmen.
“They searched everywhere in the bush but couldn’t find them. They had fled away with their motorbikes.”
Major Christopher Datong who was from Pankshin in Plateau state, was born 4 January, 1978.
One of the photographs circulating in the social media showed the officer with his pregnant wife.
According to Foundation of Investigative Journalism report, the bandits subsequently contacted the defence academy to initiate negotiation on the payment of ransom before they release Major Christopher Datong.
“They have called to ask for N200million to free the Major,” the source also said.
“The attack was ridiculous. They came, teased us and left. Even the helicopter hovering in the bush could not track them.”
The security breach of the Nigerian Defence Academy triggered shock across the nation , with people wondering if any one is really safe if bandits could operate so freely inside an elite military institution.
Speaker of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Alhaji Yusuf Zailani, has described the invasion as an assault on the country’s territorial integrity
Zailani, who stated this in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ibrahim Danfulani, in Kaduna, on Tuesday, said that the incident must be treated with all seriousness and thoroughly investigated.
The speaker described NDA as the premier training citadel for members of Nigeria’s armed forces and pride to the country and Africa.
He said the attack on such an institution was 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,” Zailani said.
While commending security personnel for making efforts to decimate bandits and insurgents nationwide, he said that they should not let the NDA incident demoralize them.
“I sincerely commiserate with the families of those who lost their lives.
“I am, however, pleased that the NDA authorities have given assurance that the assailants are being trailed and that they will be apprehended,” the speaker added.
Also, the pan-Northern socio-political organizstion, Arewa Consultative Forum expressed shock over bandits’ raid on the Nigerian Defence Academy where two officers were killed and one other kidnapped on Tuesday.
The ACF lamented that the incident was a slap and embarrassment to the entire nation, lamenting that the institution bequeathed to the country by the founding fathers of the North, had been handed over to “bandits.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe in a terse statement, noted that the invasion was an indication that the Nigeria’s national security system was running on a reverse gear.
The statement read, “The ACF first & foremost commemorates 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 q 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.
“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 seat 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 Air Force 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?”
Moreso, many Nigerians have argued that if bandits can successfully carry out their operations in a place like the NDA with the tight security provided, then the security of ordinary citizens cannot be guaranteed.
They further urged President Muhammadu Buhari led government to label bandits as terrorists and tackle the menace of insecurity so the security situation in the country does not disintegrate into what is obtainable in Afghanistan today.
Below are some of the comments from SR:
Okechukwu Obasi commented: “The unthinkable is unfolding before our eyes, the military does not know who to turn to; the citizens do not know who to run to…things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold.”
Oluyemi Gideon said, “Now the battle is taken to the doorstep of the defenders. This is how Boko Haram started theirs too. Let see if our gallant military officers will be offensive for the first time in tackling security threats.”
Another user, Ige Oyebade blamed the federal government for its refusal to address the matter.
He wrote, “The government allowed this situation to continue unchecked because they believed that it would not affect their own family until the government sees them as terrorists instead of labelling them as bandits. The bandits are coming to the seat of power very soon.”
Jonathan Udemba said, “The evil we condoned yesterday on the basis of tribal, ethnic and religious sentiment has come to kill us today. Where are the praise singers? Where is body language? Imagine terrorists attacking a military university?”
Merlin Neearo said, “Life under this Buhari administration is like living in hell. Everything has become so expensive except the value we place on human lives. What a president!”
Ann Chiagolum said, “A real slap on the face of Nigeria Military, where is all their intelligence?”
Lungya Ige wrote, “The nerve of these people! How did they gain access to the barracks? The soldiers are sleeping during a war! Sad!”
Austin Wareyai said, “The president can no longer speak in the language they understand. The remaining is for the Bandits to capture the Aso villa. If it can happen in Afghanistan, it can also happen in a corrupt and compromise Nigeria.”
Austin Emy stated, “Till now, bandits are not declared by Buhari’s APC government as terrorists. There was once a country indeed! The same style as the Taliban’s. What a shame of a country. If NDA can be attacked by bandits, what else is left?”
As at the time of filing this report, the defense headquarters are yet to make any official announcement concerning the development but condolence messages are been sent to his family.