NDA, father differ over cadet officer’s death during training
Authorities of Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) has denied allegation by a member of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Danladi Kwasu, that military officers in the academy deliberately drowned his 19-year old son, Elshadai Kwasu, in a 100 metre-deep lake during a training session A source in the Academy, while reacting to the accusation, said Elshadai died out of share disobedience of instructions during the military exercise which was conducted for over 600 NDA cadets.
Also, Kwasu, a retired Wing Commander, representing Zangon Kataf in the House of Assembly alleged that about 20 cadets have died during military exercises since inception of the institution due to negligence, and the NDA authorities have done nothing to change the situation.
The lawmaker, who addressed a press conference in Kaduna, alleged that “no services of professional divers were employed to save the life of my son when he was drowning, rather a big hook was used on his mouth like a fish to bring him out dead”.
The military source who pleaded anonymity, however, said no any other cadet has died in Kingimi Dam as alleged by the deceased’s father. He argued that “NDA is an institution established to train men and women to fight”, pointing out that in the course of the training of the cadets, there may be causality.
According to him, “The rope that was tied to officer cadet Kwasu was for his safety, unfortunately, when he got into the water, he held on to the rope and removed the rope, even his course mates were telling him not to, but he did and that lead to his death.” “As he was going down into the water, all instructors, cadets and others were shouting remove your hands from the rope…but did not, that was how the rope pull off him and he went into the water.
All efforts were made to save his life but unfortunately he died”. “There are systematic ways of training here in NDA, and that particular training where we lost the cadet is part of the confidence training and cadets do not use lifejackets because if they do, the aim is defeated. It is after that step that they use life jackets when they are in the boat cross the river”.
The source further said: “Over 100 of his course mates had made that jump into the river and came out alive before it got to his turn. If there were no safety measures, I am sure we would have had more casualties. We have conductors, and they were present when the thing happened, it is not fishermen, that is ‘Sarkin Ruwa’ as they are called, that retrieved the body, but they supported our conductors.
“NDA has a law guiding it that if a certain percentage of casualties is exceeded, a board of enquiry will be set up because in any institution, the responsibility for safety lies on the instructors and the students,” he said. On the allegation that over 20 cadets have died in the institution, he said “we have not had a case of anybody dying in that river, that is the first time.
People have drowned in NDA, but not in that place, the people he quoted there are entirely different. Some died in Port Hacourt inside a naval boat , one died in a river, he went there himself and they met him sitting inside the water dead.” On the video the father claimed NDA refused to release to him, he said “we had a team from Army headquarters who came to observe our training and did video recording of the training that day, they were not there the next day when Officer Cadet Kwasu took his diver, so there is no video.”
“Why would anyone want to kill Kwasu’s son, I did not even know it was his son. NDA has double checks to make sure that accidents are reduced to the barest minimum,” the source said.