Abagana Ambush

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Abagana Ambush
Part of Nigerian Civil War
Date March 31, 1968
Location Abagana
Result Biafran victory
 Nigeria  Biafra
Commanders and leaders
Murtala Muhammad Joseph Achuzie
200 unknown
Casualties and losses
150 none

The Abagana Ambush (March 31, 1968) was a military ambush by Biafran guerrilla troops led by Maj. Joseph Achuzie. Out of the estimated 200 men who were there 150 were killed and only about 50 survived including Gen. Murtala Muhammad.


On October 4, 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 an 6th Battalion crossed the Niger River at Idah and began making their way towards Onitsha. In January 1968 the Nigerians managed to capture numerous towns and cities along the way and managed to get within 20km of Onitsha before being halted by Maj. Achuzie. For 3 months the Biafrans held off the Nigerians at Onitsha before they became overrun and were forced to retreat to Nnewi on March 24.


On March 31, 1968 a 96 car Nigerian supply convoy was transporting recently captured Biafran supplies from Onitsha to Enugu. When the convoy reached the town of Abagana they were attacked by a small troop of Biafran soldiers led by Maj. Joseph Achuzie. A homemade Ogbunigwe mine was launched by the Biafrans at a tanker truck carrying gasoline which caused an enormous explosion that tossed armored cars like tin cans. After seeing the destruction that they inflicted the Biafrans fled back to Nnewi, leaving the Nigerians confused and disoriented. Against all odds Gen. Murtala Mohammed survived the attack along with 50 other Nigerian soldiers.


The successful ambush at Abagana gave both Biafran soldiers and civilians hope in the war as well as halting the Nigerian advance into Biafran territory. In June 1968, now fed up with reprimands from the Nigerian Army HQ in Lagos, Gen. Mohammed took an extended leave from the army and took a vacation to the United Kingdom.