- No one is invincible, but an Army General should not be so easily killed as Ahmed was
There are questions that demand answers following the killing of Maj.-Gen. Hassan Ahmed, a former Provost Marshall of the Nigerian Army and Director, Veteran Affairs of the army. His vehicle was “attacked by gunmen while transiting along Lokoja-Abuja road” on July 15, army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement.
Significantly, it has been noted that no serving general had previously been killed in such a manner in the country. Two retired generals were reported killed in gun attacks last year as they travelled by road, but Ahmed’s killing was a different tragedy. A former army spokesman, Brig.-Gen. S.K. Usman (retd), was quoted as saying in reaction to the incident, “It is not just the Nigerian Army; this is somebody that was a Major-General in the Nigerian Army, a serving one. So, it is not just about the Nigerian Army or the Armed Forces, but it is about the nation.” In reality, the killing says a lot about the army, the armed forces as well as the nation.
It is unclear why the senior army officer had travelled without guards. He was with his driver and a relative, reports said. In the context of the country’s security crisis, travelling without protectors made him more vulnerable. Armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom have escalated to the point that many are afraid to travel by road. In the circumstances, an unprotected general on the road reflected a poor security arrangement for a top army officer.
It is noteworthy that the House of Representatives in April asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security, and also asked the Federal Government to recruit more personnel into the military and the police, observing that the current capacity “falls far short of the required number to effectively secure the country.”
There is a need for clarity about what happened on the highway as the general was on his way to Abuja. It seems Ahmed was killed in an ambush. Yet-to-be-identified gunmen emerged from the bush and opened fire on his vehicle. He was not in uniform, but the vehicle had an army number plate. The driver was said to have pretended to be dead. The Nigerian Army was said to have clarified that Ahmed’s sister, Safina, was kidnapped.
Was it a kidnap operation that turned tragically violent? Were the attackers kidnappers? Have they contacted anyone to demand a ransom for the kidnapee? Why did they kill Ahmed? Did they know who he was? Was it an assassination? The killing raises questions not only about the general’s vulnerability and insecurity in the country, but also about the identities of the assailants and their motive, as well as the condition of the kidnapped woman.
The army authorities need to review the security arrangements for senior officers, particularly in view of the country’s intensifying security challenges. Generals are not invincible, but they should not fall so easily as in Ahmed’s case. There was no exchange of gunfire when the incident occurred, which would have happened if he had guards. The assailants had it easy, and got away.
His killers should not be allowed to get away with murder. They should be found and brought to justice. Also, Ahmed’s kidnapped sister should be rescued to prevent a double tragedy.
The country’s security crisis, which is fuelled by kidnapping, banditry and terrorism, calls for extra vigilance. This was lamentably lacking in this case. The gunmen’s deadly attack on the general further exposed the vulnerability of the general citizenry in the face of rising insecurity.
Ahmed’s killing calls for more security consciousness among those who have security roles and also among the general public facing increasing insecurity.