April 1, 2022

After train attack, Army repels invasion of Abuja by terrorists

Kubwa Disaster


…Terrorists from Niger State advance on Gurara, near Abuja

…Army dismisses viral video claiming troops abandoned their colleague in Gurara operation

…Kaduna govt says Abuja-Kaduna highway not barricaded by bandits

…123 passengers in train attack reunite with families; 18 families yet to see loved ones – NRC

…We’ve received 108 calls from people seeking the whereabouts of family members – Kaduna SEMA

…Security agencies have failed Nigerians-Reps

…Bombard forest to kill terrorists, el-Rufai insists

By Kingsley Omonobi, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Dirisu Yakubu & Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

Barely a week after terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna train, which left at least eight passengers dead, 41 injured and scores kidnapped, troops of Guards Brigade, Nigerian Army yesterday repelled an attack by scores of armed terrorists, who invaded an Abuja community, Gurara, bordering Niger State and the FCT.

The invasion came as the Nigerian Army also yesterday described as diversionary a viral video, which claimed that troops abandoned their colleague during an operation against terrorists, explaining that the soldier who shot the video to escape getting involved in the fight against the terrorists out of cowardice, had since returned to his unit.

This is even as Kaduna State Government dismissed claims that bandits barricaded Abuja-Kaduna highway yesterday, with a view to attacking travellers.

These came on a day the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, told Vanguard that so far, 123 passengers, who managed to escape the train attack,  have returned to their various homes after receiving medical attention, adding, however, that 18 families were yet to see their loved ones.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives said yesterday that security agencies in the country have failed Nigerians, considering the heightened level of insecurity in the country.

On the attempted invasion of the FCT, investigations by Vanguard showed that the terrorists were on their way from Niger State when they ran into an ambush by troops deployed from Zuma Barracks base located at Suleija.

It was learned that during a massive gunfight, several of the bandits met their Waterloo, while the Army also recorded some casualties.

A top military source, who confirmed the encounter at Gurara on grounds of anonymity, said troops overpowered the terrorists, adding that an investigation was ongoing to ascertain the number of terrorists killed.

The source noted that the ambush tactics of the Army really dealt a great blow to the terrorists, many of whom ran back into the bush in disarray.

According to the source, troops are currently tracing the route of the terrorists to ascertain where they came from and recover weapons abandoned after the encounter.

Army dismisses viral video claiming troops abandoned their colleague

The Army also yesterday dismissed a viral video making the rounds on social media, which gave the impression that troops abandoned their colleague during Wednesday’s Gurara offensive against terrorists, stressing that the soldier in question was not abandoned to be taken by the terrorists but had since returned to his unit.

A statement by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said: “Contrary to the claims and impression created by the soldier in the video footage, preliminary investigations have revealed that the video footage was a deliberate attempt to shield himself from being accused of cowardice, having abandoned his colleagues during an ongoing clearance operation in Gurara, Niger State.

“It could be recalled that troops of the NA, recently carried out a clearance operation in Gurara Local Government Area of Niger State.

“Disappointingly, during an encounter, the said soldier abandoned his colleagues and absconded in an outright display of cowardice and possible sabotage, which negate the precepts of the military profession.

“Sensing the gravity of his action and its consequences, the soldier surreptitiously uploaded the video online in a calculated attempt to whip up public sentiment and cover up his act of cowardice.

“The soldier’s action amounts to a betrayal of the esprit de corps and that is synonymous with a military unit and fighting formation, particularly during operations.

“The soldier’s conduct is, therefore, an aberration and against the ethics and core values of the military profession. The video footage is thus, in all intent, and purpose a misrepresentation of what actually transpired between the soldier and his colleagues.

“The soldier has rejoined his unit   and further investigations are currently ongoing to unravel the reasons behind his unprofessional conduct.”

No bandits’ barricade on Kaduna-Abuja road – KDSG

Also yesterday, Samuel Aruwan, Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in   Kaduna State dismissed the rumour making the rounds that bandits barricaded the Kaduna- Abuja expressway.

In his clarification of what actually transpired, Aruwan said:  “A few hours ago (yesterday) some panic was spread on social media over bandits barricading the Kaduna-Abuja Road and kidnapping citizens plying the route.

“The buzz in circulation is false and was presented by a group of social media enthusiasts who celebrate negative news.

“The preliminary operational feedback showed bandits fleeing military onslaught, attempted to pass through a narrow corridor around Kasarami general area of Kaduna-Abuja road.

“The troops, on receiving this intelligence, hurriedly moved to the location and engaged them in the adjoining forest.

“Kaduna State Government will update members of the general public when more detailed feedback is received.”

“Kaduna State Government does not deny the existence of security challenges, and continues to work assiduously with relevant military and security agencies.’’

123 train passengers back home, 17 families yet to see loved ones

As Nigerians continue to condemn Monday’s bombing of the AK-9 train along the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, said yesterday efforts are being made to reach out to families who lost loved ones or have their wards wounded or still missing.

Managing Director of the corporation, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, told Vanguard exclusively that so far, a total of 123 passengers who boarded the ill-fated train have returned to their various homes after receiving medical attention.

Okhiria also said the corporation would continue to reach out to affected families, given the shock the tragedy brought on them in particular and Nigerians in general.

“What happened is regrettable. So, far, a total of 123 persons who were on the train have reunited with their families. They are in good and stable condition.

“In the course of reaching out to those affected, 17 families told us that they have not seen their loved ones. You know we did say that 26 persons are being treated in the hospitals. Wherever they are, efforts are being made to get them out,” he said

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The NRC boss again reiterated his earlier position that of the 398 passengers who bought tickets, 362 eventually boarded the train which took off from Idu, Abuja, but was attacked before it could get to its final destination at Rigasa in Kaduna.

970 passengers’ claim false- NRC

The NRC boss, who insisted that the corporation will not release the passenger manifest until families of those who died in the attack were condoled with,  dismissed claims that there were 970 passengers aboard the train at the time of the attack.

According to him, the train couldn’t have been carrying 970 passengers when it has a capacity of 840.

He said: “The Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, deeply commiserates with all the passengers on board the NRC AK9 train of  March 28, 2022, their relatives and friends, the government and people of Kaduna State and the Federal Capital Territory as well as the entire nation.

‘’In particular, we regret the death of eight of our passengers and security personnel attached to the train service as well as the injury suffered by scores of our passengers, not to mention the trauma caused them and crew by the armed attack.

“We also earnestly pray for the speedy recovery of the injured passengers, while praying God grants the families of the bereaved fortitude to bear the loss.

“Our attention has, however, been drawn to the misleading and insensitive information circulating on social media with respect to the number of passengers on the train.

“The Abuja-Kaduna service is run on a fully automated e-ticket system with entry and exit turnstiles that validate every passenger onboard our trains. Ticket checkers also validate the tickets of every passenger via electronic validators linked to the central system to verify the integrity of our manifest.

“398 passengers purchased tickets to travel on the NRC AK-9 service, and 362 passengers actually boarded the AK9 service.

“The entire seat capacity of the train in question is 840; therefore, the figure of 970 being circulated can not be correct.

The AK9 service is the last service out of Abuja on a Monday evening and is usually at less than half capacity.

“Passengers on board the AK9 service on Monday have confirmed that the train was certainly not run at full capacity.’’

Not unaware of the worry caused by the non-release of the manifest, the NRC boss said the corporation “is continuing its efforts to reach out to passengers using the comprehensive manifest in order to obtain valid information about their present condition.”

We’ve received 108 calls from people seeking the whereabouts of their family members – Kaduna SEMA

Also speaking yesterday on the train attack, Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, said efforts were being made to determine those missing as a result of the attack.

Executive Secretary of the agency, Muhammed Mukaddas, also said there were concerted efforts to identify those missing.

“As I did mention earlier on, we have received up to 108 calls from people calling to know the whereabouts of their family members.

“We have been able to cross-match only nine of the names provided by the callers with what is validated on the manifest. So, we are still in the process of trying to determine who is missing from the data that we have. “

Mukaddas also rued the impact of fake news, insisting “the official data we have received from the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, that has been validated is 390 and 360”.

Security agencies have failed Nigerians — Reps

Meanwhile, in a unanimous resolution yesterday, the House of Representatives at the plenary declared that security agencies have failed Nigerians.

The House said it is outraged by the endless killings and kidnapping incidences that had characterised the country, declaring that nowhere was safe for anybody in Nigeria.

The resolution of the House came on the heels of a motion under a matter of urgent public importance presented by Balarabe Shehu representing Giwa/Birinin Gwari federal constituency of Kaduna State (APC).

It would be recalled that the deputy speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase had on Wednesday, lambasted the service chiefs and other heads of security agencies for ignoring invitations sent to them to meet with the leadership of the House on the recent Kaduna airport and train attacks.

In the motion, Shehu gave chilling and graphic accounts of insurgency attacks in communities within his constituency, saying over 150 people had been murdered in cold blood by bandits who operated freely without any resistance.

He said: “The entire communities in Giwa Local Government Area and the entire communities of Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State have been ravaged by the series of recent attacks by armed bandits who indulge in killings, kidnapping, raping, robbery and destruction of properties

“Between March 24th -28, 2022, these armed bandits unleashed terror on those communities. Over 117 people have been killed and some corpses are yet to be recovered, more than 136 people were abducted and over 10,463 people have been displaced from their homes.

“Over 250 houses were burnt, countless number of cows, goats and other livestock were stolen. Several properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, including vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, grinding machines and many other household belongings”.

The motion sent shivers down the spines of lawmakers who took turns to decry the unfortunate situation in the country.

In his remarks, House leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano State), noted institutional failures across the security architecture, saying that Nigerians should be allowed to bear guns to protect themselves.

He said: “Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in the capacity of the Majority Leader who, of course, is the ambassador of government on this floor. You can see how this chamber is thrown into disquiet, how this movement has made every one of us emotional.

“When you have a government in place, the major responsibility of that government, especially a democratic one elected by the people, is to ensure the safety of lives and property of the innocent citizens.

“Mr Speaker, when things like this continue on a daily basis, those of us who are representatives of the government will become speechless. We have become speechless here to defend the actions of the government.

“This is an elected government under a popular democracy but we continue hearing day in, day out, killings, massacres, armed robberies all over; left, right and centre.

“This is a report from just one local government, out of 774. The case of  Giwa Local Government is not just a new case, he is only giving us the most recent. Giwa has been engulfed by bandits, killings in the last two, three years.

“Giwa is a state in Kaduna where you have the representation of the Nigerian military and other security agencies, why should this thing continue to happen? I think government and officials of the government have to be alive to their responsibility.

“I believe our relevant committees are following up in terms of implementation of funding through our budget, their oversight processes. Why should things continue this way? We are here for the Nigerian people and we must speak for Nigerian people. We cannot sit here and fold our arms when people who elected us are being killed by the day.

“With all sense of responsibility, I think Nigerians should this moment be allowed to also take arms. Nigerians must be allowed to take up arms in defence of their innocent souls, defend their hard-earned properties because it is like a monumental failure, if the agencies of security have failed, then Nigerians should be allowed to bear arms.

‘Anti-terror war being unduly prolonged’

Also contributing to the motion, Ahmadu Usman Jaha, representing the Chibok federal constituency of Borno State on the platform of APC, accused the security agencies of deliberately prolonging the war.

According to him, security agents are profiting from the war.

“In 2021, we budgeted N460 billion for the Nigerian Army alone. Only N29 billion was for capital expenditure, the remaining was for recurrent expenditure. In 2022, we budgeted N571 billion for the Nigerian Army alone, only N37 billion is capital expenditure, the remaining was a recurrent expenditure.

“Mr Speaker, the truth of the matter is security in Nigeria has become a cash cow, a business. I am not willing to go without saying my own.  It’s just like a medical doctor putting professionalism aside. You presented a patient, as a patient relative, you say okay, every month, I’ll give you N100 million until the patient recovers or otherwise.

‘’The doctor will make sure that the patient does not die and will continue to ensure he does not recover because he will keep collecting the money. It is a simple analysis every person can understand.

“Mr Speaker, it is a business. They (military) don’t want it to end.’’

Similarly, Nasiru Ali Ahmed, representing Nasarawa constituency, Kano State (APC), expressed surprise that “a ragtag army of bandits” could hold well-trained Nigerians armed forces to a battle these long years.

He called for the sack or resignation of the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno.

“Mr Speaker, I start by sympathizing with all those who lost their lives, were kidnapped or were injured in this horrible and tragic incident that happened in Kaduna.

“Mr Speaker, I said it before in this chamber.  Since 2015 when this government came to power, how many service chiefs have we had? How many IGPs have we had? Some have come and gone but only one person has not been changed up till today, and that is the National Security Adviser, NSA.

‘’What is the job of the National Security Adviser? Do we have a National Security Adviser?  All the agencies that have been mentioned, from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, DSS, all of these agencies are accountable to National Security Adviser.

‘Security challenges now nationwide’

On his part, Haruna Mshelia from Borno State (APC), said the security challenges were not restricted to a certain region but had gone nationwide.

“Mr Speaker, you know, when something has happened for a long time, people tend to forget. I concurred with all the previous speakers, particularly our leader who spoke very well but I want to remind the House that in Borno State, it’s still simmering.

“In fact, there is a local government called Guzamalah, up till now, there is not a single soul living there and in my constituency which is the southern part, recently, three communities were attacked, one in Igbohi ward called Kilangala where they attacked and destroyed properties.

‘’Another one is in Gudi where my youth leader of APC was killed, and then in Geraha in Gida ward where they displaced people and destroyed their properties. These are problems all over Nigeria but let us not forget the initial epicentre of insurgency which is the North-East.

‘’So, I was thinking I was going to amend but is like we should make it all over the country because there is nowhere that is safe and something needs to be done drastically,” he said.

Ruling on the motion, the Deputy Speaker who presided over the plenary, called for a special prayer for the country and adjourned the House in honour of the victims of various attacks.

“I want to beg that this is a very serious issue and we appreciate every emotion expressed today. It is a collective expression of all the members. It is my utmost opinion that a lot needs to be done to ensure we eradicate these people (bandits/terrorists).

‘’I can give a little report about what is happening in my constituency. I can tell you there is no single day we don’t lose a life, and one will begin to wonder, even when there is an intelligence report, what happens? Collaboration is very low.

“In the honour of those lives lost in various incidences, we need to offer a special prayer today (yesterday) and then we adjourn the House to Tuesday”, he said.

Wase had earlier called on the relevant security committees of the House, especially the National Security and Intelligence Committee,  to submit the report of all investigations, including the missing arms probe.

Bombard forest to kill terrorists, el-Rufai insists

Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State insisted yesterday that the military should bombard the forests to kill terrorists who take cover there.

According to him, no good man lives in the forest.

The governor, who reiterated the call at a stakeholders’ meeting in Giwa, Kaduna State, where terrorists had been invading communities in the last few days, with many killed or kidnapped, said:  “We have been pressing for the past two years for the military from the air and the ground to bomb these forests, while soldiers on the ground kill all those that escape the bomb.

“I do not believe that there is an innocent person in the forest.  It is my intention to see Mr President reiterate this and also ask that a military theatre command headquarters be established for the Northwest geo-political zone,” he said.

El-Rufai said the magnitude of the present security challenges in the Northwest was much more than what was witnessed in the Northeast.

He said farming had become impossible, while lives were being lost to incessant attacks by terrorists.

“It is time for the Nigeria Air Force and Nigerian Army to bomb the terrorists out of existence.

With the declaration by the Federal High Court that these bandits are terrorists, there is a need for security agencies to take extreme actions to terminate these bandits,” El-Rufa’i stressed.

He commiserated with the people of Giwa Local Government Area of the state over the five days of persistent attacks by terrorists, assuring that the state government had taken measures to reclaim all ungoverned spaces.

The governor cautioned vigilance groups across the state against taking laws into their hands, saying their actions had exacerbated the security challenges in some areas.

El-Rufa’i also apologised for the inability of the government to fully protect everyone but said it was important for vigilance group members to support the government and be law-abiding.

‘’We do not have enough soldiers to post in every village, but we have asked for more deployment of security personnel and recruitment of more in all affected local government areas,” he said.

In his contribution, the District Head of Fatika, Malam Nuhu Umar, advised the government to use technology to track the terrorists and eliminate them.

He urged the government to provide material and financial assistance to communities in the areas where terrorists had made farming impossible.

The representative of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Yushau Abdulkarim, expressed support for the government in whatever action it planned to take to tackle security challenges.

He said the majority of herders were also victims of attacks by the terrorists, who rustled their herds.

Vanguard News Nigeria