May 20 2020 | Radio Biafra
The Abagana Ambush took effect on March 31, 1968. It was an ambush led and carried out by Biafran guerrilla troops. The Abagana ambush was led by Major Jonathan Uchendu that wiped out the Nigerian 2 Division.
Of the 6,000 Nigerian troops ambushed, only a very small number of the Nigerian Federal troops survived this tormentous hit from the Biafran gallant soldiers stationed in Abagana for surveillance, the 2nd Divisions of the Nigerian Federal troops commanded and Commander in Chief – General Murtala Muhammad was also involved in this hit.
On the 4th of October 1967, the Nigerian 2nd Division began bombarding Onitsha and continued the assault for eight days, before a 10-boat armada crossed the Niger River into the city. The occupying Nigerian Federal troops didn’t consider to pursue the retreating Biafran soldiers, instead the Nigerian government Federal troops opted to loot and burn the Onitsha market to the ground. The Biafran 11th and 18th Battalions under Major Joseph Achuzie and Col. Assam Nsudoh formed a pincer and attacked Onitsha from two directions, capturing and killing most Nigerian soldiers.
In December 1967 the Nigerian 2nd Division and the 6th Battalion crossed the Niger River at Idah and began making their way towards Onitsha, finally the Nigerian government Federal troops captured the city after several attempts. The Nigerian Forces now intended to link up the 1st Division at Enugu with the 2nd Division at Onitsha. To this end the Nigerian 2nd Division moves out towards Enugu, in a long convoy supported by armoured cars, on the 31st day of March 1968.
On the 31st day of March 1968, a convoy consisting of 106 vehicles belonging to the Nigerian 2nd Division transporting 6,000 soldiers, as well as armoured cars from Onitsha to Enugu was ambushed and decimated in the town of Abagana by a small unit of Biafran soldiers led by Major Jonathan Uchendu. Homemade Ogbunigwe (Mass Killer), rocket missiles were launched by the Biafran soldiers at a tanker truck carrying gasoline which caused an enormous explosion destroying many of the convoy’s armoured vehicles and killing a large number of Nigerian Federal troops. 350 tons of Nigerian Army equipment were destroyed or captured by the Biafran troops.
After the rocket attack the Biafran soldiers opened fire on the convoy with small arms fire killing many more Nigerian Federal soldiers. The successful ambush at Abagana gave both Biafran soldiers and civilians hope in the war as well as temporarily halting the Nigerian Federal troops advancement into Biafran territory.
General Murtala Mohammed was relieved of his command and never commanded a division again. He was recalled. In his own words, Uchendu said the sight of the convoy almost paralyzed his troops. His boys were so anxious to start firing, more out of panic than anything else. He asked them to remain calm until he gave the command. He allowed many of the Nigerian 2nd Division convoy pass through. His boys were shocked why he would allow them go through into Biafran held zone.
They were nervous, suspicious, yet they trusted his military gallantry and so awaited to know his strategy. He said they concluded that the war was over, but as brave soldiers, they must fight to the last! As he was guiding the soldier (I think a Sergeant) with the rocket launcher on what to do to the invading convoy and when best to strike, the soldier nervously and accidentally pressed the trigger, letting go the rocket! Luckily, he hit a target – a fuel Tanker!
The Tanker exploded and threw its contents onto a nearby Armour carrier setting everything ablaze. The multiple explosion commenced! In panic, soldiers who already crossed over into Biafran line ran in different directions in total confusion. Biafran soldiers attacked immediately. They radioed the regular troops and they joined in the attack. When Uchendu learnt that Murtala Mohammed was with the Convoy and somewhere in Nnewi, he set off hurriedly to capture him but was late as Murtala was sighted taking off with a Helicopter.
The braveness of these gallant men and the success of this ambush shall forever remain evergreen in our hearts. The ingenuity of the BIAFRAN blood was again made manifest in a time it seems all hope was lost. We can do better, oh! BIAFRAN Youths. On the day set apart for Heroes and Heroines remembrance, this Men shall be remembered. Come 30th of May 2020 is the date.
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media