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Brig-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru taking over from Maj-Gen Shehu Yusuf as GOC of 82 Division, Enugu in August 2015

“Tribal war” at 82 Division: 3 soldiers feared dead

Tuesday, April 6, 2016 exposed the divide among the ethnic groups that make up Nigeria, when men of the Nigerian Army reportedly opened fire on each other, with at least three soldiers feared dead.

It was gathered, in an unconfirmed report, that the cause of the shooting and killing was as a result of perceived ill-treatment of soldiers of Igbo origin concerning frontline postings.

According to our sources, the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu, was given a mandate to shortlist about 54 soldiers to take part in combating the Niger Delta militants uprising, a duty which the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Brigadier-General Ibrahim Attahiru assigned to two commanders, one from the northern and another from the south-western parts of the country respectively.

As the story goes, those commanders short-listed all 54 Igbo soldiers, a situation which was said not to go down well with the affected men. One of the enlisted soldiers, saddened by the list, questioned the process used to enlist only Igbo soldiers on what was seen as a mission of death. The commander allegedly took offence and demanded to know what gave the soldier the nerve to question him, not to talk of conceiving to disobey a military order.

The said commander, in a display of anger, was said to have pulled out his gun and shot the young soldier in the head, killing him instantly. Another soldier, said to also be among those who were enlisted, immediately pulled his own gun and shot the commander, killing him too, and then directed the gun on the second commander.

The scenario became like a war zone, and soldiers reportedly embarked on a Mexican stand-off, while civilians took to their heels for dear life. There would have been a bloodbath at 82 Division but for the timely intervention of the GOC, who managed to calm frayed nerves. It was unclear what happened later to the soldier who shot one of the commanders, but it is likely that he was apprehended and detained by Military Police personnel.

At the time the original report broke, there was no movement into and out of the barracks.

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