President Muhammadu Buhari has authorised the commencement of a major military operation to flush out bandits and kidnappers from Katsina State.
The presidential directive came troops killed 16 bandits and other criminals in Niger, Benue and Rivers States.
Buhari’s fresh directive to the military was contained in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
He said that a major proactive operation by special forces, which details, are being kept secret, is now in progress to replace the reactive strikes against insurgent camps.
To give a full effect to the exercise, a planning team is already in the state selecting targets and making preparations for the execution of the “unprecedented” operation.
The chief of defence staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, who has been mentioned in official statements on the oncoming exercise, briefed the president on the plan he intends to kick off shortly.
Buhari who expressed sadness over the recent attacks in the state extended his condolences to the families of those killed and prayed for the recovery of the injured.
Meanwhile, to end bandits’ consistent attacks in Rafi local government area of Niger State, troops have killed nine of the criminals during an exchange of gunfire while three others were lynched at the weekend in the area.
The nine were first killed in an exchange of fire with the police and local vigilante group as they attacked three villages in the area while three of the bandits were lynched by the villagers while trying to escape. LEADERSHIP gathered that the incident occurred in Karaya Mahanga and Bakachi villages about 2 am as they invaded the areas, rustled cows and abducted mostly women and children.
It was gathered those abducted were freed and 150 cows and 100 sheep rustled were recovered as a villager lost his life in the course of the exchange of fire with the bandits allegedly used sophisticated weapons such as AK 47.
The police spokesman, Wasiu Abiodun, said that the bandits engaged the police and local vigilantes in a gun battle at Makujeri village less than four kilometres from Kagara, the headquarters of Rafi local government area of Niger State.
He said that the DPO of Kagara mobilised men of “Operation Puff Adder” with some local vigilantes to engage the bandits who have been terrorising people of Rafi and environs for a long time.
According to him, nine bandits were killed while three others who ran towards Mekujeri village were intercepted lynched and burnt beyond recognition by mob.
The chairman of Rafi local government area, Alhaji Ismaila Modibo, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview and advised his people not to panic.
Similarly, the chief of staff to Niger State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, also visited the area and assured them of the commitment of the state government to rid the state of all forms of criminal elements.
Also, troops of “Operation Whirl Stroke” neutralised two gang members of the most wanted criminal in Benue State, Gana, and arrested seven Bassa militias in Nasarawa State while acting on human intelligence.
The coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj-Gen. John Enenche, said that the raid was conducted by a combined team of “Operation Whirl Stroke” Special Forces’ troops of Sector 2 deployed in Gbise and Zaki Biam in Benue State and Sector 4 from Taraba State.
He said that the troops on 16th May, 2020 raided the hideout of the wanted notorious criminal named Gana in Mtan village in Utenge council ward of Katsina-Ala local government area of Benue State and killed two of the gang members and recovered weapons.
He said that following further exploitation, it was revealed that Gana narrowly escaped death with gunshot wounds while the following items were recovered; one locally fabricated machine gun, six locally made rifles, two locally fabricated cartridge guns, one dane gun, two revolver pistols, two Cartridge pistols, 27 rounds of 9mm ammunition, two Motorcycles, one Camouflage shirt, one generator set, one bag of gun powder and assorted charms.
He said that Gana’s personal belongings, other items and thatched houses were also destroyed in the process.
In another development, troops of Sector 3 deployed in Ondori in Doma local government area of Nasarawa State acting on credible intelligence that a group of Bassa militiamen was planning to attack some Tiv villages over land disputes raided their camp located at Kpelebewa village in Rukubi area.
The troops apprehended seven members of the Bassa militiamen dressed in red shirts in the camp and recovered one locally fabricated machine gun, six locally fabricated rifles, two locally fabricated cartridge guns, one dane gun, two revolver pistols, two cartridge firing pistols, 57 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, 29 rounds of 9mm ammunition, and 22 cartridges of ammunition.
Other items included one dagger, poisoned bows and arrows, desert camouflage head gears and pouch, six handsets phones and some charms.
He said that the suspects are undergoing interrogation and would be handed over to the Nigeria Police.
The coordinator commended the troops and called on the general public to continue to provide the armed forces with credible information to facilitate its operations in the country.
Similarly, troops of 146 Battalion deployed in Bonny Island on 12th May, 2020, raided and destroyed an identified pirates/militants’ hideout in Arugbanama community in Bonny local government areas of Rivers State.
Enenche said that two of the militants were killed during the gun battle that ensued between the militants/pirates and troops.
The troops recovered one AK 47 rifle, one pump action rifle, one pistol, seven AK 47 rifle magazines, one pistol magazine, one round of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 102 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, three rounds of 9mm ball ammunition, one live cartridge, one camouflage uniform, one head gear, one speed boat and four 85 Horse Power engines.
He added that in the early hours of 12th of May, 2020, troops of 3 Battalion (Rear) while on routine patrol arrested a suspected criminal named Stephen Eboje along Warri-Sapele Road in Uvwie local government area of Delta State and recovered one AK 47 rifle from the suspect.
The coordinator commended the gallant troops for their resilience, courage and dedication to the noble cause of “defending our fatherland” against the criminal elements.
350 Terrorists Killed, 500 Wounded In One Month – Report
Also yesterday, a report revealed that 350 Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were killed and over 500 wounded by the military in the last one month.
According to the Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies (IPCTS) report, Nigerian troops have earned plaudits in their final clearance operation and unsurprisingly, though, this comes since the chief of army staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, relocated to the North East zone
IPCTS made the revelation in a well-documented report after a thorough research into the military’s activities in the North East.
Led by the COAS himself, the troops of “Operation Lafiya Dole”, the report said, had continually carried out massive onslaught on the fleeing terrorists, which had left hundreds dead and the factional leader, Abubakar Shekau, on the brink of submission.
In the report signed by IPCTS’ executive director, Dr. Samson Bello, the institute revealed that the introduction of additional counter-terrorism methods as well as a boost in military’s hardware had given the troops an edge.
The institute also observed that the presence of the COAS had served as a source of motivation to the troops, with his orchestration of top-notch operational strategies neutralising the threats posed by the Boko Haram/ISWAP group.
With the troops on the cusp of victory, IPCTS, however, urged that the tempo be sustained as the jihadists might eventually surrender as the odds were well against them.
IPCTS is a think-tank that coordinates intellectual activities for the promotion of global peace and prevention of terrorism across the globe.
It said: ’’The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies identified that the Nigerian military had been actively involved in rescue operations across the North East involving the rescue of women and children as well as older people that have been held hostage and used as human shields by the Boko Haram group.
“A critical survey revealed that between 2018, 2019, and 2020, the Nigerian military rescued a total of 12,500 people from the captivity of Boko Haram in parts of Yobe and Borno State. From the figure, 80 per cent were women and children, and 20 per cent were aged people that needed urgent medical attention.
“It was also observed that the Nigerian military rescue operations were carried out in a fashion that has resulted in minimal casualties. The Nigerian military also had a medical team that attended to those rescued from captivity before they are released to their various families.
“’The Institute for Peace and Counter-Terrorism Studies after extensive scrutiny of the issues in the war against the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists concludes that the operational strategies of the Nigerian military have proven to be effective in neutralising the threats posed by the Boko Haram/ISWAP group.
“We wish to state that if this tempo is sustained, the Boko Haram/ISWAP might eventually surrender as the odds are against them,’’ Bello said.
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