Recalling the Abagana Ambush in the Nigerian Civil War


A Turning Point in the Nigerian Civil War

On March 31, 1968, the Abagana Ambush unfolded as a pivotal event in the Nigerian Civil War, representing a strategic triumph for Biafran guerrilla troops under Major Jonathan Uchendu.

This ambush, which targeted the Nigerian 2nd Division, led to a devastating blow against the Nigerian forces and temporarily halted their advance into Biafran territory.

The background of the ambush traces back to the escalating conflict between Nigeria and the breakaway state of Biafra. In October 1967, the Nigerian 2nd Division bombarded Onitsha, leading to a series of clashes and skirmishes in the region. The Biafran forces, under Major Joseph Achuzie and Col. Assam Nsudoh, retaliated fiercely, capturing and killing many Nigerian soldiers. Despite these setbacks, the Nigerian forces continued their attempts to capture strategic locations in Biafra.

By December 1967, the Nigerian 2nd Division, supported by the 6th Battalion, crossed the Niger River and captured Onitsha. With their eyes set on linking up with the 1st Division at Enugu, the Nigerian forces began moving towards Enugu in March 1968. It was during this march that they fell into the trap set by Major Uchendu and his men.

The ambush took place in the town of Abagana, where a convoy of 106 vehicles, carrying 6,000 Nigerian soldiers and armor, was transporting supplies from Onitsha to Enugu. The Biafran soldiers launched homemade Ogbunigwe rocket missiles at a tanker truck carrying gasoline, causing a massive explosion that destroyed many armored vehicles and killed a large number of Nigerian troops. Following the rocket attack, the Biafran soldiers opened fire on the convoy with small arms, inflicting further casualties.

The aftermath of the ambush was significant. It boosted the morale of the Biafran soldiers and civilians, giving them hope in the face of the Nigerian advance. It also temporarily halted the Nigerian offensive, forcing them to reconsider their strategy. Additionally, the ambush led to the relief of General Murtala Muhammed of his command, marking a turning point in the leadership of the Nigerian forces.

Finally, the Abagana Ambush stands out as a decisive moment in the Nigerian Civil War, showcasing the effectiveness of guerrilla tactics employed by the Biafran forces. It serves as a reminder of the complexities and brutalities of war, as well as the resilience and determination of those involved in the conflict.

Posted in:


Leave a Reply