Major Christopher Datong, a Nigerian Army officer, has regained his freedom after 25 days in the captivity of bandits who invaded the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna State, according to SaharaReporters.
The Nigerian military in a release on Saturday morning claimed that security forces rescued Datong, although military sources said the rescue was not without payment of ransom to the dare-devil bandits.
The bandits had invaded the military training institution on August 24, 2021, killing two officers, and injuring one other while Datong was abducted.
A statement issued at about 12:15am on Saturday by the spokesman of the 1 Division, Nigerian Army Kaduna, Col. Ezindu Idimah, said the Division, in conjunction with the Air Task Force, the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies conducted the operation which led to the rescue of the officer who was held captive for 25 days.
The statement added that Datong sustained a minor injury during the operation and was treated at a medical facility before he was handed over to the authorities of the NDA “for further action.”
The statement titled ‘Troops rescued Major CL Datong’ read: “Following the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs for 1 Division Nigerian Army in conjunction with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and all security agencies to conduct decisive operations to rescue Major C. L. Datong, who was abducted at Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Permanent Site on 24 August 2021 and find the perpetrators dead or alive, the Division in conjunction with the Air Task Force, Department of State Services and other security agencies, immediately swung into action by conducting operations in the Afaka general area to find and rescue the officer.
“The operations were being conducted based on several leads received from various sources regarding the abductors and likely locations the officer was being held.
“The operations which have been sustained since the abduction of the officer proved quite successful and led to the destruction of several identified bandits’ camps in the Afaka-Birnin Gwari general area and neutralisation of scores of bandits particularly, in the late hours of today, 17 September, 2021, the troops arrived at a camp suspected to be the location where Maj C. L. Datong was being held.
“At the camp, the troops exchanged fire with the bandits and overwhelmed them with superior fire. In the process, the gallant troops were able to rescue the abducted officer.
“However, the officer sustained a minor injury but has been treated in a medical facility and handed over to NDA for further action.
“The Division wishes to commend the efforts of the NAF, DSS, Nigerian Police and patriotic Nigerians for their invaluable support which contributed to the success of this operation.
“Our operations will continue until we capture or neutralise the assailants that killed two (2) officers in the NDA on 24 August 2021.”
SaharaReporters had reported on August 25 that the bandits initially demanded N200million for the abducted military officer.
It had also been learnt that some of Datong’s colleagues and friends in the Nigerian Army secretly raised a ransom for his release, although the military authorities had been silent on possibility of negotiations or ransoms.