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NAF:Fighting Bandits With Ariel Surveillance, Airstrikes

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People in the Northwest have been held hostage by activities of bandits, but respite seems to come their way with the launching of Operation WUTAN DAJI, which has taken the battle to bandits enclaves TARKAA DAVID writes.

The activities of bandits in the North West and North Central have rendered many homeless while others have lost their lives and means of livelihood. Hundreds of persons have become refugees in their own states while others live in constant fear of attacks.

The President and Commanderin-Chief of the Armed Forces, apparently worried by the situation, gave marching orders to the military to deploy its might to the affected areas to quell the menace. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has, however, taken the battle to the bandits’ camps with the deployment of air assets that provide aerial surveillance, close air support to ground troops, and bombardments of identified bandits’ locations.

These aircraft, however, require supporting facilities to perform optimally. In this regard, the NAF has commenced construction of an Apron, Hangar and Aircraft Shelters at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua International Airport Katsina, which serves as the headquarters of the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI. This follows the recent massive deployment of air assets and ground support equipment to reinforce Internal Security Operations against armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and other criminal elements in the North West and North Central parts of the Country.

The director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement, said that the aircraft shelters would ensure that aircraft deployed for operations in the North West Theatre, with their delicate onboard avionics and electrical instruments, are not unduly exposed to the harsh effects of weather. He added that the hangar would provide a more conducive environment for the conduct of maintenance activities, thereby reducing the need to fly aircraft outside of the operational area for the conduct of repair works.

Speaking after inspecting the project site, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that the facilities being emplaced would enhance the NAF’s operations in dealing with armed bandits and other criminal elements in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and surrounding states. He said that the construction work would be executed through ‘direct labour’ by NAF engineers from the Directorate of Services, noting that some of the materials, including the frames for the aircraft shelters, had been relocated using NAF C-130H aircraft from another NAF unit, where they were not being used.

Air Marshal Abubakar added that the new facilities would also form part of the infrastructure for the NAF Central Flying School, once fully activated. While expressing gratitude to the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, for allocating the land for use by the NAF, Abubakar also thanked the Emirs of Katsina and Daura as well as the good people of Katsina State for their support to the Service, especially in the provision of useful information.

He emphasized that the fight against banditry was a collective responsibility that required the cooperation of all well-meaning Nigerians. The CAS has been in Katsina since 20 June 2020, to oversee the progress of the new subsidiary air interdiction Operation, codenamed WUTAN DAJI. Speaking on his assessment of the conduct of Operation WUTAN DAJI, Air Marshal Abubakar expressed satisfaction with the progress so far made. He said “With 10 surveillance and attack aircraft deployed, we have flown over 100 hours in about 60 sorties since the Operation began 3 days ago. In all, we have conducted 13 air interdiction missions that have taken out 10 armed bandits locations with scores of the bandits killed and some of their leaders neutralized. We are already getting positive feedback on the tremendous results of the airstrikes. You will get more details soon”.

The CAS added that the Operation HADARIN DAJI Air Component had also continued to provide close air support for the Land Component’s clearance operations within the Theatre; emphasizing that the overall objective was to employ all means available to deal decisively with the armed bandits so that they have no breathing space and can no longer terrorize innocent citizens. The Air Component of Opera

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