The Abagana Ambush (March 31, 1968) was an ambush by Biafran guerrilla troops led by Major Jonathan Uchendu that wiped out the Nigerian 2 Division. Of the 6,000 Nigerian troops ambushed, only a very small number survived, this included the 2nd Division’s commander, General Murtala Muhammad.
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 Nigerians didn’t pursue retreating Biafran soldiers and instead opted to LOOT and BURN the Onitsha market to the ground. The Biafran 11th and 18th Battalions under Maj. 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 capturing 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 armored cars.
On the 31st of March 1968, a convoy consisting of 106 vehicles belonging to the Nigerian 2nd Division transporting 6,000 soldiers as well as armourey 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 rocket missiles were launched by the Biafrans 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 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
In panic, soldiers who already crossed over into Biafran line ran in different directions in total confusion. Biafran soldiers attacked. They radioed the regular troops and they joined in the attack. When Uchendu learnt that Muritala Mohammed was with the Convoy and somewhere in NAWFIA, he set off hurriedly to capture him but was late as Murtala Mohammed escaped Anambra State with a Helicopter!
-Pharm Ike Klinsmann Ohamadike