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Nigerian Army redeploys GOCs, other top officers

On 15 February, the Nigerian Army redeployed 29 Major Generals including General Officers Commanding (GOCs) divisions, along with 42 brigadier generals.

A statement signed by the Chief of Staff, Directorate of Army Public Relations, Colonel Usman Abdul said the GOC 1 Division, Kaduna, Major General Joseph Shoboiki, moves to Defence Headquarters as Director of Policy while former Director of Training at the Army Headquarters, Major General Garba Ayodele Wahab now takes over as GOC 1 Division.

Major General J. O. Nwaogbo, until recently commander of the military Joint Task Force in Borno State, is now GOC 3 Division, Jos while Major General Sunday O. Idoko moved from the 82 Division, Enugu as GOC to become Chief of Logistics (COLOG) Army Headquarters. Major General O.O. Oshinowo, Head of the Special Task Force (STF), Jos, is now GOC 82 Division.

The Commander, Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery (NACA), Major General Emmanuel Etim Bassey, has been appointed Chief of Administration at Army Headquarters while Major General M.B. Ibrahim, formerly of Defence Headquarters now commands the Special Task Force (STF) Jos.

Major General A.T. Jibrin and Major General U. Buzugbe have been confirmed as Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) and Military Secretary (Army) respectively.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Major General Raphael Ishaku Isa, is now the Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army while Major General J.S. Zaruwa is the new Commander of the Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre (NAPKC) in Jaji. Major General A.S. Agha-Okoro of the Department of Army Training and Operations (DATOPS) at the Army Headquarters is now the Director, Legal Services (DLS).

Others appointments include Commander 3 Brigade, Brigadier General I. I. Abbah; Commander 31 Brigade, Brigadier General Ilouga; and Commander 21 Brigade, Brigadier General R.O. Bamigboye.

Brigadier General C. O. Okoro, of 81 Division is now Sector Commander/Nigerian Contingent Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), while Brigadier General M. A. Koleoso becomes Sector Commander/Nigerian Contingent Commander for the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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Suicide bomb attacks on military establishments foiled in Kaduna, Kaduna State

On 7 February, suicide bombers targeted two military bases as another bomb detonated at a busy overpass near a motor park in Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State.

According to a statement by the spokesman of the 1 Mechanised Division headquarters, Lt. Col. Abubakar Edun, two attackers driving bomb-laden cars (a Sienna Toyota space bus and a Honda Accord) struck at the headquarters of the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army at about noon.

Refusing to stop, they overran the security post and the lawn leading to the headquarters complex. A soldier opened fire on the Toyota car, causing the car to swerve and explode at a car park. But the Honda car did not explode.

Edun said: “The Honda Accord which did not explode was loaded with ten numbers of 20 litres of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), four numbers of 30litres loaded with IEDs and two numbers of large peak milk containers also loaded with IEDs”. He said the bomber in the Toyota Sienna died in the attack and that the Army recorded no casualty.

In his own account of the incident, the Nigerian Army Headquarters spokesman Maj-Gen Raphael Isa told newsmen in Abuja that a suicide bomber dressed in a military uniform attempted to drive a car bomb into the 1 Mechanized Division headquarters. Soldiers guarding the gate opened fire on the man, who died from gunshot wounds.

“The soldiers repelled the attack and were able to stop what will have been a suicide bombing. However, after firing (at) the suicide bomber who tried to force his way, the bomb exploded and shattered the glasses that adorn the frontage of the headquarters. The suicide bomber was the only casualty,” Isa, who is the director of Army public relations, said.

Soon after the attack at the 1 Division headquarters, two other blasts went off near the Air Force base and at the Kawo flyover.

On the incident at the Air Force base, Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Yusuf Anas said some attackers tried but failed to get through the gate. They then threw an explosive about 500 meters from the outer fence of the base.

Anas said: “They used all these locally made bombs. They used fertilizer and some things to generate some serious detonation”.

At the Kawo flyover, the explosion occurred directly opposite the Kawo Motor park, which is the largest in the city. The popular Kawo weekly market which holds only on Tuesdays was in its peak trading hours, bustling with traders and buyers at the time the bomb exploded. Sources said many people were injured while running for their dear lives.

Later in the day, the militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks. A man claiming to be the sect’s spokesman, reportedly told journalists by telephone in Maiduguri that: “Government and security agencies have turned against us and betrayed the truce we offered. That is why we attacked Kaduna. And henceforth, we will always attack any town or city where our members are exposed or arrested”.

Suspected gun runner and terrorism supporter paraded by Army in Kaduna, son declared wanted

Map of Nigeria showing Kaduna State

On 16 January, Army authorities presented Alhaji Nuhu Mohammed Marafa to newsmen, alleging that he had been involved in gun running and in supporting a terrorist group in Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State. Also accused was one of his sons, Musa Nuhu Mohammed. Another son, Yusuf Nuhu Mohammed, was declared wanted for allegedly shooting at security personnel and then fleeing with his weapon.

Alhaji Marafa is a former chairman of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association in Kaduna State.

Addressing a press conference, the Assistant Director of Public Relations, 1 Mechanised Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Lt Col Abubakar Edun, on behalf of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Maj Gen Joseph Shoboiki, said the principal suspect was arrested after a search was conducted on his compound.

Narrating the circumstances of the arrest, Col Edun said Marafa’s activities, bordering on issues of national security, had attracted the attention of the Nigerian Army. Those activities, he said, specifically had to do with gun running and suspected association and support of a terrorist group. After intensive surveillance, troops from the Kaduna-based 1 Division, on the night of 13/14 January, were sent to search his compound, located at Trikania area, opposite IBBI, in Kaduna.

The army spokesman said: “Before troops could gain entrance into the house, there was a gunshot fired at soldiers from the compound. It was later revealed that the shot was fired allegedly by Yusuf Nuhu Mohammed, the son of Alhaji Nuhu Mohammed Marafa. Yusuf escaped with the weapon by scaling the fence of the compound”.

He further disclosed that when the troops finally gained entrance into compound, several weapons and other incriminating items were discovered.

The items found included, “nine number of 9 MM ammunition, five number of 6MM ammunition, 7.62 mm (special) ammunition, 11 number of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, 17 barrel gun cartridges”.

“Others include one pump-action gun, two double-edged special axes, three machetes, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) bomb in a Mirinda bottle which, if ignited, can cause serious collateral damage to lives and property”.

“Also recovered were two metal bows, three long wooden clubs, one black army belt, one camouflage belt, two dog tags belonging to the Nigerian Army D2004/1/55/1899 S Adamu and US Army 84637857 Rambo RH and Nigerian Army camouflage trousers”.

“Other items recovered include two mobile phones, 10 pairs of vehicle number plates and three single vehicle number plates, one whistle, one passport of Alhaji Nuhu Mohammed Marafa and his son, Mohammed Yusuf Nuhu, GSM SIM packs, among others”.

It was on the basis of these discoveries that Alhaji Marafa and one of his sons, Musa, were arrested. The Army spokesman added that Marafa’s other son, Yusuf, who shot at the troops during the search operation, “is hereby declared wanted”.

The Army appealed to law-abiding citizens to assist law enforcement agencies with information that could facilitate arrest of the wanted man. They said investigations were still ongoing and that the suspects will eventually be handed over to the appropriate authorities for further action.

However, Alhaji Marafa’s lawyers who also addressed the press after he was paraded by the military, said their client was a law-abiding citizen. Barrister Sani Katu, who spoke on behalf of the three-man legal team said: “The gun was legally acquired alonside the bullets. The plate numbers are also his property”. Other residents said a lot more explanation may be needed, regarding the other items that were recovered from Alhaji Marafa’s residence.

Army promotes 25 to Major General, 43 to Brigadier General

On 9 November, the Nigerian Army Council announced the promotion of 25 officers to the rank of major-general (two stars) and 43 others to brigadier-general (one star).

The elevations followed the recommendation of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika, and the approval of the Army Council, at its meeting held at the Ministry of Defence and chaired by the minister, Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed.

Those elevated from brigadier-general to major-general include the Director of Military Intelligence, Brig-Gen A. T. Jibrin; Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen R. I. D. Isa; Director of Operations at Army HQ, Brig-Gen G. A. Wahab; Defence Adviser in New York, Brig-Gen G. Audu and the commander of OP JUBILEE (the anti-kidnapping task force in Abia State), Brig-Gen S.U. Audu.

Others are Brig-Gen K. C. Osuji, Brig-Gen F. S. Owonibi, Brig-Gen  Agha-Okoro, Brig-Gen. D. D. Kitchner, Brig-Gen B.T. Oginni, Brig-Gen E.R. Chioba, Brig-Gen J. M. Ogidi, Brig-Gen S.U. Labaran, Brig-Gen A. A. Martins, Brig-Gen A. Chukwu, Brig-Gen M. Idris, Brig-Gen L. N. K. Banjiran and Brig-Gen E. F. Abejirin.

Also lifted to two star-general are Brig-Gen T. O. Umar, Brig-Gen H. G. Aminu, Brig-Gen I. Sani, Brig-Gen A. G. Ewansiha-Oloni and Brig-Gen P. K. Ikumonein.

A statement announcing the promotions was signed by Col. Usman Abdul of the Directorate of Army Public Relations.

Soldiers, gunmen clash in Biu, Borno State: At least 3 killed and 7 wounded

On 2 September, clashes between unknown gunmen and soldiers, left several persons killed or wounded in Biu, a town about 200km south-west of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

Details of the clash are still sketchy and reports of casualty figures vary significantly. However, trouble reportedly started on Friday evening when some gunmen shot and killed a soldier at the Tashar Gandu area of the town. The soldiers thereafter conducted an operation in pursuit of the killers.

The spokesman of the military Joint Task Force, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, confirmed that three persons were killed, all civilians, and others wounded. Among those killed was Mallam Kankaki Shani, driver of the Deputy Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly (Hon. Danlami Kubo) who was hit by a stray bullet on his way to Gombe State International Airport, where he was to pick up his boss returning from this year’s lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

The army spokesman said the gunmen were not members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, which had been responsible for much of the violence in the region in recent months. He said they were “armed miscreants” from the area, who attacked soldiers with “no justifiable cause”.

However, Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), offered a somewhat different account of the incident. He told the news agency, AFP, that: “Soldiers trooped out of the barracks into town last night and shot residents indiscriminately and set shops on fire, following the shooting of their colleague by unknown gunmen, resulting in at least two deaths with several people injured”. He reportedly added that: “The town has been sealed. No one is let in or out”. He said the casualty figure could be much higher.

Residents also said more people may have been killed in the shootings.  One source reported at least seven people killed, over 10 seriously injured, two churches – Living Faith Church and Wisdom Chapel – burnt down, along with several shops. They also reported the streets deserted, except for military vehicles patrolling the town.

However, by Saturday evening, the Army spokesman reported that the situation had been brought under control, and advised law-abiding citizens to go about their normal businesses. He said security agencies are working round the clock to restore law and order fully in the town.

This is the second clash between armed men and soldiers in Biu in under one month. An earlier clash had occurred on 10 August, after security operatives arrested five teachers in an Islamic school, on suspicion that they were members of Boko Haram.

Protesting the arrests, about 150 of their students and other local youth went on rampage, burning a government building and a Catholic church and also attacking security personnel in the area. As soldiers dispersed them, one woman was killed, while another was wounded. Military investigators later reported that the bullet that killed the woman was not among the kinds used by the Nigerian Army. Defence Minister Bello Halliru subsequently ordered an inquiry into the incident, but the outcome is not yet known.

[This is an updated version of our first report on the incident].

Two soldiers among Mikel Obi’s father’s kidnappers, says Police

Soldiers maintaining peace in Jos

On 23 August, the Plateau State Police Command confirmed that the eight persons arrested so far, in connection with the abduction of Pa Michael Obi, father of football star, Mikel, included two serving soldiers and two women.

The Commissioner of Police in Plateau State, Mr. Dipo Ayeni, identified the two soldiers as Sgt Victor Essien  with service number 96NA/43/11213 and Private Jaduwa Thloma with number 03NA/54/5527.

Addressing newsmen in Jos, the Police chief said the soldiers were originally of 2 Battalion, but currently on temporary posting to Plateau State, as members of the Special Task Force (STF) known as Operation Safe Haven. The STF was deployed to maintain security in Plateau State, following the surge of ethno-religious violence between various communities in the state.

The Police chief also disclosed that two of the suspects were women. He identified them as Hajiya Awa Abubakar and Nkechi Osai.

The other suspects were four men identified as Ifeanyi Hyacinth, Ndubuisi Friday, Basil Chukwuma and Sule Ibrahim. Ibrahim is a national of the Republic of Niger.

The police paraded the six civilian suspects before newsmen, but said the soldiers were in the custody of the military police. There had been no reaction yet, from the Army headquarters in Abuja or the STF headquarters in Jos.

Army general faces court martial over escape of Boko Haram suspects

On 16 August, a senior army officer, Brig Gen Muraina Raji, was arraigned before a Special Court Martial, over his alleged complicity in the escape of two detainees suspected to be members of the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the two detainees, arrested over an onslaught on Bauchi by the group last year, escaped from detention at the 33 Artillery Brigade, Bauchi, where Gen Raji served as Commander.

Inaugurating the six-member Special Court Martial, in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Armoured Division, Maj Gen Sunday Idoko, said Raji was indicted for  complicity by a military investigation report. The GOC implored the court to ensure that no effort was spared towards achieving justice for the accused, the Nigerian Army  and the country, adding  that fairness and impartiality should be upheld in the proceedings and the dispensation of justice.

However, Raji who was arraigned before the court martial objected to the composition of the military court. In particular, he argued against the inclusion of Brig Gen Agbo Robinson, as the “Waiting Member”. He said Robinson took over command of 33 Brigade after him and that “in the circumstances of the case, it will be prejudicial for him to be on the panel. Besides, all those appointed to testify against me are from his Command”.

Raji also objected to the membership of Lt. Col Bernard Okorie as the Judge Advocate, for the reason that Okorie had participated in filing the case against him. He said: “His position will make it difficult for him to do his job as freely as he should”.

Colonel Francis Ogbeyi (rtd) and his wife killed in Kaduna

On 31 July, a retired Army officer, Colonel Francis Aba Ogbeyi, and his younger wife, Stella, were both murdered by unknown persons at their home in the Sabon-Tasha area of Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State.

Ogbeyi, who had been in private legal practice since leaving the Army, was reportedly shot in the face, while his wife was said to have been cut with a machete.

The circumstances in which they were killed are not clear. Colonel Ogbeyi’s senior wife was away to a Sunday morning church service when the incident happened. No one seemed to have noticed when the killers came in, struck and left.

Reports said the attention of other family members living in separate apartments, was drawn to the main apartment where Ogbeyi and Stella lived, only when the smell of burning food started coming from the apartment. Thinking someone must have left a pot on the cooker unattended for too long, one of the Colonel’s sons went over to alert whoever was cooking, to take the pot off the fire.

On getting to the apartment, he found the door firmly locked. After repeated knocks brought no response, he climbed into the two-bedroom flat. He found his father and wife had been gruesomely killed, and he raised alarm.

Policemen from the Sabon-Tasha Divisional Police Station later took the corpses to the mortuary at St. Gerald Hospital. Reports say the assailants apparently took away a laptop and three mobile phones belonging to the victims, as well as the key to their house.

Police authorities confirmed the incident and said they had commenced investigations. They said only the investigations will determine whether the killing was an assassination, an armed robbery or both.

[THIS REPORT MAY BE UPDATED LATER TODAY].

Victory over lawlessness: Edo Dep Gov’s wife ordered to pay N12 million damages to Army officer

ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE Governor of Edo State

On 25 July, a Federal High Court in Benin City, ordered Mrs Endurance Odubu, wife Edo State Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu, to pay N12 million as damages to an army officer, Captain Stephen Olorunduyilemi, who was brutally assaulted by her security personnel early in 2010.

The ruling followed a suit No. FHC/B/CS/226/2010, filed by the officer’s counsel, Clement Dike, stating as follows:

  • On 11 January 2010, Captain Stephen Olorunduyilemi of the 4th Brigade, Nigerian Army in Benin City, accompanied by his wife and children, was returning from a church service along Sapele Road, Benin City, when the lead vehicle of Mrs. Odubu’s motorcade sped past him.
  • The army officer said he veered off to the left lane to allow the motorcade pass but, to his surprise, one of Mrs Odubu’s six vehicles blocked his Honda Civic car. In an instant, heavily armed men jumped out of a vehicle, and forcibly dragged him out from his car. One of them attempted shooting him right before his family, but later relented, after he had let off two shots into the air.
  • Olorunduyilemi was wrestled to the ground, administered strokes from horse whips, then bundled to the deputy governor’s private residence in his blood-soaked clothes. On getting there, he was further assaulted while his plea that he was a serving army officer fell on deaf ears.
  • The incident would have turned uglier, but for the intervention of the Commander, 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army.

In the suit, the officer asked the court to declare that his fundamental human rights as a free citizen of Nigeria were violated. He demanded N502 million as damages. He also demanded an unreserved apology, which he wanted published in five national dailies and three electronic channels.

Delivering judgment on the suit, Justice Adamu Hobon explained that sirens were meant to be used by fire fighters responding to emergencies, and to clear the road for top government officials. He said the wife of a deputy governor was not a top government functionary but a private person, and that she was therefore not entitled to the use of siren and heavy security guard (emphasis ours).

Hobon added that the fact that Mrs Odubu did not arraign the officer before any court since the incident occurred in January 2010, meant he did not commit any offence known to Nigerian laws.

Describing the action of Mrs Odubu’s guards as “unlawful, unconstitutional and barbaric”, Justice Hobon awarded the Army officer N10 million for general damages arising from infringement on his fundamental human rights and his illegal detention. The judge also awarded him N2 million as special damages for his medical bills and for the damage that was done to his car. He ordered Mrs Odubu to tender an apology to the officer in three electronic media and two national dailies.

Reacting to the judgement, the officer’s counsel, Dike, said the damages awarded were not enough. He said: “The judgment is not bad, except in the area of awarding damages. We are not satisfied with it. We will take our reply up at the appeal”.

However, some other lawyers and civil rights observers have hailed the judgement as a victory for the rule of law, over executive lawlessness and illegality.

University girls forced into lesbian sex video in Enugu: 20 cultists arrested

Maj Gen SARKIN YAKI BELLO, GOC 82 Division

On 15 July, 20 young men who had allegedly forced some female university students in their captivity to perform lesbian acts, which they then recorded for possible public distribution or blackmail, were paraded at the headquarters of 82 Division, Nigerian Army, in Enugu, Enugu State.

The arrested men are suspected to be members of violent student cults at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) in Enugu; their unfortunate female victims are also believed to be students of the same institution.

How the suspected cultists were arrested

Briefing newsmen on the arrests and the case, the Assistant Director of Public Relations of the 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Lt Col Sagir Musa, said on 4 July, sporadic gunshots at ESUT drew the attention of a military patrol team, which moved to the institution and arrested one Franklin Anikwe, who was found with 5 rounds of ammunition.

Sagir said following that arrest, the General Officer Commanding the Division, Maj Gen Sarkin Yakin Bello, directed that the arrested Anikwe and the entire shooting incident be thoroughly investigated. He said preliminary investigations by the Division’s intelligence group led to the arrest of 19 other members of various student cult groups, in their hideouts in the Agbani area of the city, between 8 and 12 July. The raids also yielded 4 locally-made pistols, 10 AA cartridges and 10 telephone handsets, which the suspected cultists could not account for.

How the video of forced lesbian acts was uncovered

Col Sagir said it was during the raid that security personnel stumbled on the video recording of scenes, in which some female students were performing illicit lesbian sex. He said the tape showed that the poor girls were in captivity and had been forced, brutally, to perform the acts. He described the discovery as “nasty’ and “terrible”, saying the arrested cultists, who may also have been kidnappers, would be turned over to police for further investigation and prosecution.

[See also on this website: INSIGHT: Forced lesbian sex on campus: A new crime in schools already endangered].

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