Terrorists on the rampage across the country have attacked 16 military bases in the last 18 months, fuelling concerns that the military was overstretched and needed to restrategise to deal with the criminals, protect its personnel and tackle the security challenges.
Findings by Sunday PUNCH revealed that while some of the attacks led to the killing of soldiers, some were repelled and insurgents killed. It was also gathered that within the last couple of months, about 800 soldiers have been killed in different parts of the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, described as unacceptable the volume of attacks on Nigerians, blaming some foreign elements for fuelling the country’s security situation.
Speaking in Abuja at the graduation of Course 30 of the National Defence College, where he was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the President said, “Government is deeply concerned about activities of bandits and criminals who have reared their ugly heads in some parts of the country. This is because the number of violent unprovoked attacks on citizens appears to be on the increase. This is unacceptable.
“Accordingly, we have given strong directive to the military and other security agencies to deal decisively with terrorists, bandits and other enemies of the country. We have also adopted bilateral and multilateral arrangements to tackle the trans-border and maritime crimes because we recognise that some of our security challenges are imported into Nigeria by foreign elements.
“I want to assure all Nigerians that the government is doing all it can to eliminate or apprehend the criminals or bandits, wherever they are.”
Attacks on facilities
Meanwhile, the compilation done by Sunday PUNCH showed that the attacks on the military bases took place in the North. In 2022, there were six major attacks on military bases, witnessed in Borno, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba and Niger states. These were independent of other attacks on the military, including ambushes, attacks on their convoys and the most recent attack on soldiers was at the Zuma Rock checkpoint on July 28. A soldier was killed in the attack.
On some of the attacks on military bases, terrorists attacked a military base in Sarkin Pawa Town in the Munya Local Government Area of Niger State on July 18, 2022. Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, said troops were able to repel the attack, noting that there were no casualties on the side of the soldiers.
On May 10, terrorists suspected to be members of the Islamic State West African Province launched an attack on the perimeter of the 6th Brigade military base in Jalingo, Taraba State. They were said to have thrown an explosive device into the base around 8:44pm. No casualty was recorded.
Also, on April 4, suspected Ansaru terrorists attacked a military base at Polewire on the Kaduna-Birnin Road in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, during which about 11 soldiers were feared killed, while 19 soldiers were reportedly injured by the terrorists. The terrorists, who used Rocket-Propelled Grenade, also killed three members of a vigilance group and injured two.
In a similar vein, it was reported that ISWAP fighters attacked the multinational military base in Doron Baga, Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State on March 19. They were however repelled by soldiers attached to the Operation Hadin Kai, killing some of the terrorists. Reports said the terrorists came with five gun trucks and grenades but were eventually decimated by the soldiers after about a two-hour gun battle.
Also, reports on January 21 noted that terrorists stormed the military base located within Government Day Secondary School, Shinfada, in the Jibia Local Government of Katsina State. A soldier and a member of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were reportedly killed. Spokesperson for the NSCDC, Muhammed Abdara, confirmed the development to journalists.
In 2021, reports said there were attacks on at least 11 military bases in the North. Some of the attacks were foiled by soldiers.
In January 2021, Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters attacked the New Marte Base in Borno State. The military disclosed to journalists that the terrorists were repelled through the collaborative efforts of the Operation Lafiya Dole, and the Nigeria Airforce.
In February, a few kilometres from Dikwa Town in Borno State, Boko Haram terrorists attacked the military’s super camp in the area. Reports indicated that the attack was meant to gain access to the United Nations base and control of the town, but they were repelled by soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole and other military formations. The number of casualties was not disclosed by the military.
Spokesperson for the Army, Mohammed Yerima, a Brigadier General, said in a statement that terrorists stormed the town with gun trucks and motorcycles but were repelled by the soldiers.
In April 2021, the army confirmed that a military base in Mainok, Borno State, was also attacked by ISWAP terrorists. The terrorists ambushed a military convoy escorting weapons to the military base in Mainok.
They later attacked the base and reportedly killed several soldiers, including their commander; a lieutenant colonel. They were reported to have seized two Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in the attack before overrunning the base and burning military vehicles. But Yerima said in a statement that the attack was a multi-directional attack and that it claimed one officer and six soldiers while six others “sustained varying degrees of injuries”.
In May 2021, suspected members of Boko Haram attacked a base in Ajiri Village, Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State. It was reported that the terrorists dislodged the soldiers of their weapons at the time of the attack. Mafa was a safe place for resettled internally displaced persons who were displaced due to previous terror attacks.
Meanwhile, the terrorists also attacked the Nigeria Defence Academy, Afaka Campus in Kaduna in August 2021. They killed two officers while one Major Christopher Datung was kidnapped, while another officer was hospitalised.
On September 12, terrorists also attacked the Forward Operating Base, Mutumji, Dansadau LGA, Zamfara State, killing at least 12 security operatives. Nine Airmen, two policemen and one soldier were reported as casualties of the clash between the soldiers and the terrorists.
On September 26, suspected bandits killed some members of a joint patrol team when they attacked ‘Burkusuma camp,’ a joint military base in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State. The attack which occurred in the early hours of the day was confirmed by villagers who escaped to the state capital. The state Commissioner for Carriers and Security Matters, Garba Moyi who also confirmed the attack on the military base, however, said that he was not sure of the number of casualties. However, three NSCDC personnel were confirmed to be among the casualties. It was reported that terrorists overran the camp, burning the patrol vehicles and stealing food items.
The PUNCH also reported that ISWAP terrorists attacked the United Nations base in Rann, in the same month. They attacked the strategic base which is located near the border between Nigeria and Cameroon to gain control of the border town. A UN security source disclosed that a soldier and a local volunteer with a foreign aid agency were killed. While the military confirmed the attack on the base, it said troops restored calm without being dislodged from their camp.
On November 8, 2021, suspected ISWAP fighters attacked a military base in Tamsukawu, a village in Kiaga Local Government Area of Borno State. The Commander, Sector 3 of Civilian Joint Task Force, Modu Fannami, told journalists that the few soldiers at the base engaged the attackers in a heavy gun battle but did not disclose the number of casualties on both sides.
In November 2021, a brigadier general was killed by ISWAP fighters when they attacked a military base in Askira in the Uba LGA of Borno State in the same month. Three other soldiers were reportedly killed at Bulgama, a few kilometres from Askira town.
In December, members of ISWAP stormed the military base in Rann, in the Kala Balge LGA of Borno State. Six soldiers were reportedly killed while about 20 terrorists died in a battle to overrun the base.
There are concerns over the spate of attacks on military institutions and soldiers in different parts of the country.
750 soldiers killed
Meanwhile, about 750 soldiers lost their lives between the third quarter of 2020 and July 2022. Sunday PUNCH reported in April 2022 that no fewer than 714 soldiers were killed as of April. Findings however showed that about 35 soldiers were killed between May and July, 2022, a development some retired generals and security experts described as unacceptable.
For example, six soldiers of the 93 battalion, Takun, were killed on May 10 when suspected terrorists ambushed a convoy carrying the commanding officer of the Battalion while on his way to Jalingo, the Taraba State capital.
Also, 20 military personnel were killed by terrorists during an attack on a mining firm located in Ajata-Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State on June 30, 2022.
The criminals on July 22 attacked some officials of the 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade, killing eight soldiers, including a captain and a lieutenant.
It was also reported that an attack on army checkpoint at Zuma Rock on July 28 left one soldier dead while two others sustained injuries as a result of the gun battle that ensued.