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NDA invasion, police station breaches… major attacks on security formations in 2021

NDA invasion, police station breaches… major attacks on security formations in 2021
December 23
09:27 2021

From the south to the north, security formations were not spared in the series of attacks that claimed lives and properties across the country in 2021.

While attacks on security posts are not a new experience in Nigeria, 2021 took a different turn in terms of the scale of violence, leading to calls by stakeholders for urgent interventions on improving security.

Findings by TheCable showed that across at least 30 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), there were attacks against officers and security facilities in the country.

From a never-before-2021 invasion of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), to attacks on prisons in Kogi, Plateau, Oyo and Imo, as well as razing of police stations, the year hit a major note on the need to strengthen security formations.

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Below are some of the major attacks recorded.

THE NDA INVASION

For the first time since its creation, the NDA, located in Kaduna, came under attack by suspected bandits on August 21. The news came as a shock as it was unexpected that the NDA, being the major military training ground in Nigeria, could come under such an attack that appeared too coordinated to be random. 

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“They came in, silently, through the part of the academy where we have barbed wire and is not properly fenced. Unfortunately, there were no soldiers on guard duty at that end. So, the bandits sneaked in, through to where the officers were and got three of them,” a source had told TheCable. 

The source also said “it was when they shot one of the officers that everybody woke up, and before we knew it, they had made their way outside and fled”.

“The attack is a big slap on our face. How could we have allowed that? They already knew there was no guard on duty and came in through that axis,” the source added.

Christopher Datong, a major with the NDA, was abducted during the attack. He was, however, rescued by troops after about a month in captivity. 

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As expected, the attack was trailed by criticism and concerns, with many accusing the federal government of incompetency. 

But Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, said the attack might be a ploy to embarrass the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

OVER 1,500 INMATES ESCAPE FROM IMO PRISON

In an operation that lasted for about three hours on April 5, hundreds of inmates were freed as gunmen attacked the federal prison and police command headquarters in Owerri, Imo state.

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“Armed men suspected to be members of IPOB/ESN, in their numbers, invaded Owerri prison using dynamites and other heavy explosives, gained entrance and released some inmates,” a source had said.

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) later revealed that 1,844 inmates escaped following the attack. 

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Describing the attack as an act of terrorism, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed security and intelligence agencies to fully mobilise and “go after the terrorists, apprehend them and get them punished under the full weight of the law”. 

DSS OPERATIONAL BASE SET ABLAZE IN ANAMBRA

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In yet another shocking attack, gunmen set ablaze an operational base of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Nnewi, Anambra state. 

The gunmen were said to have invaded the area in a sports utility vehicle (SUV), and in a video of the incident, they were seen parading the building and later driving away from the scene.

The attack came a few weeks to the November 6 governorship election in the state.

GUNMEN ATTACK POLICE STATIONS IN OVER 10 STATES

While security threats increased, police stations and officers soon became targets of attacks. 

On April 21, gunmen attacked Adani divisional police station in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu state. The gunmen reportedly invaded the division at about 2:30 am, killing some officers and burning the station.

In May, two police stations and a checkpoint were set ablaze by gunmen in Rivers state. Seven police officers were also killed in the attack. 

Also, in May, the Izombe police station in Oguta LGA of Imo state was burnt by suspected hoodlums.

The attack came less than 24 hours after gunmen razed a police station, magistrate and high courts, and vandalised a community health centre in Atta, Njaba LGA of the state. About four police officers lost their lives in the attack. 

Although the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been accused of being behind most of the attacks in the south-east, the proscribed group continues to deny the allegation.

In October, the federal government had said 164 police stations have come under attack within the south-east region.

Meanwhile, attacks on police officers were also recorded in Lagos, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Osun, Niger, Kaduna, among others.

OVER 500 INMATES AT LARGE AFTER OYO PRISON INVASION

In October, gunmen attacked the correctional facility in Abolongo, Oyo state, freeing several inmates.

A source at the facility told TheCable that the gunmen arrived at the centre around 10pm, using hand grenades to gain access into the prison. Warders, the source said, were caught unawares.

“The correctional centre in Abolongo, Oyo town, was attacked. Right now, the controller is there with other senior officers. They are assessing the situation, looking at the damage done to the facility,” Lanre Anjorin, the correctional centre spokesperson, later said. 

A total of 575 inmates were reported to have escaped following the attack.

Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, however, later said 446 inmates of the Abolongo medium custodial centre were rearrested.

Meanwhile, as of November, Aregbesola said a total of 3,906 inmates who escaped from different custodial centres — including during breaches that occurred in 2020 — are still at large.

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