New Telegraph

Another General Wasted

While Maj. Gen. Richard Duru continues to be marked as missing since September 2023, another retired officer, Brig. Gen. Harold Udokwere, was gruesomely murdered on June 22, in his Sunshine Estate home, Lokogoma in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A country facing security challenges should be worried that while officers die in the course of duty in the troubled North-East, the fatality rate outside the war theatre is on the increase. Generals are killed in the South-West, shot in the North-Central, bludgeon in the South-West and abducted in the North-East.

In or out of service, a general does not emerge overnight. It takes a lot of training and investment to produce one. A situation where all the efforts put in the emergence of such a high ranking security chief end within seconds, should call for concern. Udokwere’s death is disturbing because reports said he was stabbed to death by criminals who jumped over his fence into his compound.

The killers have since been arrested by the police who swung into action immediately. They have been identified as young men who hung around the bushes close to the estate. A retired general is entitled to at least a pistol. Some retired generals have orderlies attached to them permanently.

How four criminals armed with knives were able to overpower an officer who had a pistol should be of interest to the police during their investigations. Udokwere, a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Regular Course (RC) 15 and with Army Number N/5575 also had neighbours with security background.

Ordinarily, such an estate with retired military personnel should be well known to anyone who lived around or frequented the area. The background of the killers must be properly investigated. It would take well trained commandos to jump into a man’s compound, armed with only knives, dodge the victim’s bullets, get rid of him and escape from an estate, without almost a trace.

Udokwere would not be the first to be killed at home. In December 2016, Brig. Gen. Anthony Okeyim, Commandant of Command Secondary School, Ibadan, was murdered right inside his house located on the premises of the college. It remains a puzzle that soldiers attached to the school were taken unawares. Brig. Gen. Audu James also died inside a military

We are worried that these assassinations have continued with no end in sight. When generals are eliminated so easily, everyone should be worried

facility, the Nigerian Armed Forces Rehabilitation Centre, Oshodi, Lagos, in November 2022. He was crushed to death by Corporal Abayomi Ebun. The soldier was said to have been drunk. The roads are also not safe. In July 2021, Maj. Gen. Hassan Ahmed was assassinated on the Abuja-Lokoja Highway.

He was a serving officer. The North Central Geopolitical Region is infested with bandits and terrorists belonging to various groups. Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alex Badeh was also shot outside the FCT, on December 18, 2018 along the Abuja-Keffi Road while coming back from his farm. The four-star general had escorts attached to him.

How anyone could beat that arrangement showed that the perpetrators were not ill equipped. Badeh hailed from Adamawa State which was highly threatened by Boko Haram even when he was a Service Chief. His death could be explained from that angle. What the terrorists could not achieve when he was in office, they did when the former Air Chief left office.

Maj. Gen. Idris Alkali had suffered the same fate earlier, in September 2018. He was driving to his farm in Bauchi when tragedy struck. Somewhere in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, the officer and his car disappeared. It took powerful intelligence to discover the vehicle in a gulley and his remains in a shallow grave.

The story of Gen. Duru is still unfolding and unfortunately, dramatically. The Imo State Police Command has not come out with the current state of events. After parading some suspects purportedly of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) extraction, for confessing to his murder, there was a volte face.

Since that back and forth in May 2024, nothing has been heard of the suspects and the abducted general. He remains missing even after police announced that one of the suspects was caught in Lagos while trying to change the number plate of Duru’s vehicle.

This is a country where a former Chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Rear Admiral Babatunde Elegbede, was shot dead in 1994. More than 70 bullets were used to do the dirty job around a popular petrol station at the Gbagada end of the Oshodi/Oworonshoki Expressway, Lagos.

We are worried that these assassinations have continued with no end in sight. When generals are eliminated so easily, everyone should be worried. Government, therefore, must wake up to its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizens.

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