Gunmen suspected to be bandits have invaded the military barracks of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, and carted away a herd of cattle in the early hours of Thursday.
The incident happened around 2:00 am as the gunmen arrived at the barracks and started shooting sporadically in the air to cause panic in the Army community.
Though the exact number of the cattle stolen could not be determined, an eyewitness told SaharaReporters on Thursday evening that the cows would not be less than a hundred in number based on previous experience.
According to the source who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, the cattle were owned by Army officers.
He, therefore, expressed shock that the barracks could be so porous for bandits to attack without any form of resistance.
The source told SaharaReporters the first time it happened was last year and that about 400 cows were taken away by the bandits in what he described as a bloodless attack on the barracks.
He, however, said some of the animals found their way back to their ranch.
The Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji in Kaduna State is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the army, air force, and navy.
“Around 2:00 am on Thursday, gunmen invaded where cattle are kept at Jaji barracks in Kaduna here. Those cattle are owned by some military officers. So, they are kept at the Mammy market, inside the barracks at Jaji here. I cannot tell you the number of cows taken by these bandits but before the operation, they were shooting sporadically in the air.
“Even the people outside the barracks heard the gunshots. And this was not the first time. The first time it happened was last year. That one happened close to the Firing Range. They went there and took away all the cattle. About 400 cows were taken away. Some of them (cows) managed to come back to their ranch,” the source said.
When asked if the bandits came with a truck or any vehicle to convey the cattle, the eyewitness said they did not drive any truck.
He said they took the cattle away on foot.
The source expressed concern that the barracks always accommodate Army officers from other African and Asian countries who take some courses at the college, adding that it would be an embarrassment should a foreigner be abducted on Nigerian soil.
He also lamented that both the military personnel and civilians living in the barracks and the areas surrounding the military base are no longer safe.
He said there have been several attacks launched by bandits on the communities.
“They didn’t come with any vehicle. They would just come on foot and push the cattle away. This is telling us that one day, even, the Army officers in the barracks can be kidnapped. And the barracks are one of the most strategic barracks in the country.
“In the barracks there, there are houses that even foreign Army officers that are taking courses live in. The Jaji barracks are among the largest in the country and if this kind of thing is happening there, that means we are not safe anymore.
“There was a time even military officers from African and Asian countries came for courses there. Majors and Captains do come there from different countries. Every graduation, you will notice that about 17 African countries participate. It means that even foreign officers can be abducted. And if this happens, it is a slap on the face of the country.
“I don’t know if the military authorities are doing anything to see how they can tackle the issue. What I want you to know is that even the immediate areas surrounding the barracks are being attacked daily, and nothing is done. Outside the cantonment, barely a kilometre away is not safe,” he said.